Sausage and Potato Soup

This is the epitome of a seasonal dish, and a real “pantry-buster”.  A traditional homestead would have veggies in the root cellar such as potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, etc. and cured and smoked meats such as ham and sausage.  So this dish is easy to put together.  Even if you don’t have some or all of the items, because they are seasonal, they are generally less expensive at the grocery.

wpid-img_20150204_094255815.jpgThe ingredients for this dish are simple, adjust amounts for how large a batch you’d like to make. Use potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, garlic and your favorite sausage. Peas and/or corn are good additions, as well. Use whatever you have. You may notice by now potatoes, garlic, etc., are looking a bit wilty. This is a sign it is time to use them up! These veggies are fine to use as long as they retain their fresh normal smell. Cut open your potatoes to be sure there are no spots in the middle.  Peel all the vegetables and cut into fairly uniform sized pieces.


I like to cook this soup in stages. First, I like to cook the sausages, uncut. “Fry” them in the pot with just a touch of oil. This lets them develop their flavor to the fullest, the skins sealing in all the juices.  Once the sausage is sizzling and weeping, add the cut veggies and gently pour in just enough water to cover.  Or you can use any stock you may have saved.


Cover and gently simmer the soup for at least an hour, until the vegetables sink, indicating they are fully cooked.  At this point, pull the sausages and slice them into bite-sized pieces. Return them to the pot, add a couple cups more liquid and return to simmer.


Now you can decide if you want to make this soup creamy or brothy.  Either way, it’s time to add the rue.  Rue is the secret to thickening sauces and soups without lumps.  Rue is simply a paste formed from a mixture of lot liquid and flour.  Pull about a cup of HOT liquid from the soup into a smaller bowl or measuring cup. Stir in about 1/4 c flour, more depending on how big your batch of soup is.  Thoroughly combine the liquid and flour to form a thick paste. Then re-introduce the rue to the soup, stirring constantly until the rue disappears into the soup.  To reach full thickening potential, the soup must now be brought to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent burning.  It need only boil shortly to activate the rue.  Then let it back off and reduce to simmer. The soup should now fill about half your pot and be about twice as thick as you expect the finished product.  If it is not thick enough, repeat the process of pulling liquid and combining with flour, measuring by Tablespoons, until the desired thickness is reached.

From here, if a creamy soup is desired, it is time to add milk, cream or a mixture of the two.  If a brothy soup is desired, add more water or stock, filling the pot.  Simmer another hour, stirring occasionally, to marry all the flavors, and then the soup is ready to serve.

Follow these guidelines and be inspired by whatever you have in your pantry or root cellar to create a wonderful soup or stew to ward off the Winter chill.

To learn more about the energy-free tradition of root cellaring, I recommend this book, Root Cellaring by Nancy and Mike Bubel.



Parsnips, a Mid-Winter Break

        Right now in Upstate New York we are enjoying what is know as the January Thaw, a fairly predictable period of time in Winter (anywhere from early January to late February) when temperatures rise above normal for a few days, allowing some of the snow to melt off, a few of the insects to come buzzing about again, and perhaps even a bear or two wanders out of hibernation and stretches its legs.  Invariably it may bring gardeners out-of-doors, to stroll and smell the beds put to sleep for the season, likely even find a tool or two that was consumed by weeds back in September.  Bulbs of garlic and tulips that have heaved out of the ground are poked back in, and perennial beds that were neglected are hastily mulched, fingers crossed in hopes that they will again be forgiving and grow on in the Spring, despite our ill-care.

By this time in the Seasonal diet, items from the root cellar like carrots, beets and turnips, potatoes and squashes have become the staple dinner fare, with dried beans, onions, garlic and canned veggies from the pantry rounding out the variety.  It’s hearty, comforting and nourishing food, perfect to carry one through the cold season.  But, oh, would not something fresh from the garden be such a treat?

Enter the Parsnip, planted first thing in the Spring, and best harvested during the mid-Winter thaw!  Days like these are perfect to go out and lift the mulch, looking for the tiny tell-tale bright green shoots that indicate treasure lies below.  Parsnips have traditionally offered fresh fare to liven up mundane Winter tables for generations.

Fresh-dug Parsnips.

Fresh-dug Parsnips. source: Two Chances Veg Plot Blog

Parsnips were very well-known in our culinary history, having fallen out of fashion as of late, yet now enjoying a resurgence in popularity.  Parsnips look like blond carrots, with their flavor being best described as a cross between a coconut and a carrot, creamy, earthy and sweet.  Unlike carrots, parsnips need to be peeled and are generally eaten cooked, not raw.  Parsnips show two phenotypes, long and slim, and shorter and chunky.  The core of the thicker parsnips can be a bit woody and bitter, I find it best to core the larger ones.

Parsnips are in the carrot family, and thus biennial, meaning they grow leaves the first growing season, then will send up a seed stalk if allowed to grow a second season.  Parsnip stalks are upwards of 5 feet in height, and have flowers and seeds that look much like Dill.  Parsnip seed head and seeds Source: wikipedia

Parsnip seeds like to be planted first thing in the Spring, as soon as the ground can be worked.  Better yet, prepare the ground ahead in the Fall.  Parsnip seeds should be surface-sown, thus they like the wet days of April to keep them moist.  If it happens to be a dry Spring, keep the seedbed dampened until they sprout.  Parsnips grow much like carrots:  They fare just a little better against weed competition, but not much, so keep them weeded and watered regularly over the growing season.  Thinning the seedlings will result in better yields.  One reason Parsnips may not be for every garden is they are a space commitment the entire season and beyond.  However having fresh harvest in Winter and early Spring can more than make up for the space given.

Source: Benedict Vanheems     Parsnips can be harvested at the end of the growing season in the Fall, but they are so much better if left to build some bulk and sugar content through some cold weather.  Mulching the parsnips will protect them from mice or other predators, and makes it easier to dig them out.   Once that warm spell in mid Winter hits, run out and lift the mulch and use a broad fork to carefully extract the delicious roots.  Parsnips can also be left in the garden to harvest in the Spring, but be sure to get out early and pull the before the leaves actively start growing again.  Once they bolt, they should be lifted and composted or left to go to seed for your garden next year.

Do take care not to over trample the garden bed, for soil compacted while wet can take time to recover.  To cut down on soil compaction (and muddy boots), lay some boards, cardboard or even newspaper on the ground where you are working.  No help for the mud on the parsnips, though. :/

Wash peel and core your parsnips, and they are ready to cook.  They can be prepared any way you enjoy carrots: parboiled, steamed, mashed, glazed, baked or even roasted.

They are excellent with butter, cream, parsley, nutmeg, ginger, cheeses, even caraway.

One of my favorite recipes with parsnips is that of Cheddar Parsnip Soup, from Sundays at Moosewood:

1 med onion, chopped                          3 med potatoes, peeled and cubed (~1 1/2lbs)

1 tsp salt                                                  3 cups water

2 Tbs vegetable oil                                1/4 tsp ground fennel seeds

2-3 tsp caraway seeds                          3 cups med sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

5 medium parsnips,                             3 cups milk

peeled and cubed ( about 1lb)         chopped fresh Parsley or sprig of Dill


I a 3qt saucepan sautee onion with the salt in the oil on low heat until the onions are translucent, about 10 mins.  Mix int he caraway seeds and parsnips.  Stir and simmer gently about 5 mins.

Add the potatoes and water.  Bring the soup to a boil.  Moderately simmer for about 10-15 mins, until potatoes are tender.  Remove soup from heat.

Stir in fennel and cheese.  When cheese is melted, pour in milk.  Cool soup 10-15 mins.  In blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches.  Gently reheat, careful not to boil. Serve hot with garnish or parsley, dill or grated cheese.


This soup is so good!

So, if you’ve planted parsnips, get out and pick them.  If not, they are in season at the store or at farmers market, get ahold of some a give them a try.  Then plan to add them to your garden this coming season.  You will be so glad you did!








Egg Season Repost

If you shop for your foods locally, you may have already noticed that eggs, like many other items, have a season, a time of greatest abundance.  And like other seasonal items, one is challenged to find ways to preserve the abundance for the times of scarcity.  This has been an age-old question, with some interesting solutions.

For our farm, eggs are abundant at this time of the year, early spring and summer.  Often the heat of August can cause the chickens to stop laying their eggs and go through the molting process, when they naturally drop all their feathers and grow a new set.  Obviously, the warmest weather is the best time for this, so that is when they do it.  But again, this means no eggs! (But hours of amusement watching naked chicken butts running around!)

So the trick is to somehow stash the eggs up while they are plentiful.  Storing eggs has limits, because a whole egg does not freeze well.  A thawed egg is still edible, one can no longer distinguish between the white and yolk, and they no longer froth if needed.  If you enjoy your eggs scrambled, they can be beaten and frozen raw, or cooked scrambled and then frozen.

Eggs can be hard-boiled and pickled, if you enjoy the unique taste.  Simply save the brine from store-bought or homemade pickles and drop in your own eggs.  Let them sit in the brine at least two weeks for best flavor.  Pickled eggs should be stored in a very cool, dark place, such as the refrigerator or proper pantry (below 40 degrees, F).

One of our favorite ways to store up extra eggs is to make homemade pasta.  European-style pasta is traditionally made from eggs, flour and salt.  Pasta can be thus dried or frozen and will keep for a while.  Make lots of batches of pasta while the eggs are abundant, and enjoy throughout the year.

      My pasta recipe is simply:

8 cups of flour

6 eggs

2 tsp salt

water, if needed to moisten

We mix ours with the dough hook, but a paddle will work fine.  It needs at least a couple of minutes of mixing to get the gluten strands going.  The dough should not be sticky when finished.  It can be rolled out by hand or put through a pasta roller.  Keep layers of pasta separated with floured wax or parchment paper, or they will re-combine.

Issac loves to cook and has his own pasta maker.

Fettuccine ready for the pot.

Homemade fresh pasta is boiled for a shorter time than dried.  Fresh pasta is done in under 5 minutes.  When it is finished it will float.  It is such a treat, much more filling than the pasta from the store.

Another old-time method for storing whole eggs is to bathe them in a substance called “water-glass”.  This is sodium silicate, and is used 1/3 cup to 1 qt of boiled, cooled water.  Eggs must be unwashed (but wiped clean) and un-fertile.  Eggs can be stored immersed in the water-glass solution for up to three months under 40 degrees F.   I have personally never done this, but have heard my elders talk of doing it with good results.

And of course, the best way to keep fresh abundant eggs from going to waste is to indulge is rich dishes and deserts that use many of them, such as mousse, sabayon, bread pudding, homemade pudding, Quiche, Carbonara, etc!

Please share your favorite recipes and methods of keeping extra eggs.  I would love to hear them.

A couple of good books with information about storing eggs and other foods:

Putting Food By, by Ruth Hertzberg, Beatrice Vaughan and Janet Greene

The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest, by Carol Costenbader

As American As Applesauce

At Summer’s end, one of my favorite activities to do to welcome in the next season is collect apples from the trees around the farm and make applesauce.  This is a warm, memory-making tradition for children.

Apple trees dot the Upstate New York landscape

Apple trees dot the Upstate New York landscape

Here in New York, many of the country hillsides are covered with apple trees of various old-fashioned varieties, some whose names have been forgotten.  There are an array of colors and sizes, blending in with the Autumn leaves themselves.

"Wild" Apple trees

“Wild” Apple trees

Many of these apples seem undesirable for eating out of hand, planted long ago by farmers intending to make many of them into hard cider and vinegar to store for the winter.  (As a child I was told they were “crab apples”.  I know now this name belongs only to the cherry-sized ornamental apple trees from which one can also, by the way, make sauce).  But a number of the apples are sweet and delicious to eat, even if a little smaller in size than we are used to.   Either way, they can be used to make country-fresh applesauce.

Autumn Bounty

Autumn Bounty

During a good apple year such as this, a great bounty can be collected driving about in search of abandoned trees along country roads, or if you have access to some land and folks happy to let you pick.  It is good to have a truck of some sort, for apples quickly add up in weight and volume.  It’s a great outdoor activity to take children out to pick apples, for they are agile to climb trees to reach the best fruits, and they are fearless in tasting and selecting the best varieties.

Amazing finds!

Amazing finds!

Once you’ve got a nice load of apples collected, or even if you grab some at your local market, you can make applesauce to enjoy now and preserve for use all winter.

Beautiful Fall colors

Beautiful Fall colors

Applesauce is easy to make using your crockpot.  If you have a food mill or grinder to remove skins, no need to peel the apples before cooking.  If you do not, and will mash them by hand or in a food processor, peel the apples first then cook.  Cut the apples free from their cores, either by using an apple-corer, paring into slices and removing the seeds, or just cutting most of the flesh free from the middle.  Fill the crockpot full of apple wedges, add about an inch of water in the bottom, and cover, cooking on low until they are totally soft, about 6hrs.

When the apples are soft, mash them with a grinder or food mill to remove the skins, and sweeten to desired taste.  How much sugar is needed will depend upon how sweet the apples were to start and which sweetener is used, whether sugar, honey or syrup.  It seems better to add the sugar after the apples have cooked, rather than adding it to the raw apples.  The cooking time and temperature of the crockpot will caramelize the sugar, adding a darker color and muting somewhat the sweetening effect.  If using honey or maple syrup, this over-cooking can bring out some of the more “earthy” aspects, which is not always a pleasant experience.  :/

Using my tomato press to grind and separate the skins

Using my tomato press to grind and separate the skins

After mashing to a smooth consistency, return to low heat on the stove to add the sweetener.  Add cinnamon, if desired.  You can also add raisins, nuts, other dried fruit, brandy, whatever the occasion calls for.  This is wonderful enjoyed warm or chilled to enjoy cold.  It’s a great snack for the lunchbox and after school.  Don’t forget this applesauce can be used to bake your favorite breads and muffins, too.

Finished sauce ready to eat

Finished sauce ready to eat

Fresh applesauce can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or it can be canned to use all Winter.  I hot pack the sweetened sauce in quarts and process in a water-bath canner for 10 mins.  Or can some pints for gifts or a healthy addition to the lunchbox..

Remember, anyone can do this, even if apples are gathered at a u-pick, at farmers market or from the grocery.  It is so easy, delicious, and comforting, it is a great way to create family memories for children while begining to build excitement for the newly-arrived Fall season.

Storing Basil and Parsley



Reader Question:

Hi! I was just wondering. Is this the correct time to harvest basil and parsley? Also how do you keep it for use over the winter?  Freeze it?  Thanks for any help.

Red Rubin Basil

Red Rubin Basil

Italian Flat-leaf Parsley

Italian Flat-leaf Parsley










Basil and parsley can be harvested anytime, if you cut them and leave the plant, it will regrow over and over all summer. Both can be dried by hanging upside-down or cutting just leaves and spreading them on a screen to dry in an airy dark place.  A dehydrator also works.  Or they can be chopped in the food processor and mixed with oil to make a pesto, then packed into ice-cube trays and frozen. Popped them out and collect in freezer bags to use all winter.  Just grab a couple cubes and toss in sauces, soups, dips, whatever you’re making.



First batch for the season using Napa cabbage.

I make it by first soaking greens in salted water overnight.  Rinse 3-4 times, then I make a paste of garlic, onion, fresh ginger, salt, sugar, chili flakes and Cayenne flakes and a little sesame oil.  Amounts depend on how big the batch of greens.  I leave in a bowl covered with a cloth and set to ferment, 2 days to 2 weeks depending on the weather.  Adapted from recipe given to me by Old Barn Hollow.

The Mystery of Mustard Greens

Thanks to our high tunnel, Mustard Greens are already in season at Sunny Hill Farm.  These hardy, spicy greens have a long season, as they grow in both chilly weather and heat, and they are relatively free from pests and diseases.  They are very easy to grow.  Many people seem unsure, however, about how to eat them.

(We are referring to the greens here.  The condiment “prepared mustard” is made with ground-up seeds from the mustard plant.)

Giant Red Mustard

Mustard greens have a unique spicy, radish-y flavor that diminishes only slightly when cooked.  They come in a few different varieties of shape and color.  We like to grow two types, the broad-leaved ‘Giant Red’ type, and the feathery ‘Ruby Streaks’ variety.  Giant Red is excellent both raw and for cooking, while the fronds of Ruby Streaks add heft and texture to your raw dishes.

Ruby Streaks

Mustard Greens can be enjoyed raw in salads, or sauteed, braised or boiled to cook.

To prepare them, remove the stems and layer whole in your pan or chop.

They can be sauteed in some olive or other oil, salt, garlic, onion, whatever you like for flavor.

To braise: Bring 4 cups water or stock, and 1 tsp salt to boil in a med pan or skillet with lid. Add about 1 lb mustard leaves, turning with tongs until they wilt down enough to fit in the pan.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but not mushy,  about 10 mins.  Drain and serve with butter, vinegar, whatever you like.

For an extra-yummy treat, fry about 6 slices of bacon in the pan before adding the greens and cook down and directed.

Mustard Greens with Chickpeas and Curry (from The Joy Of Cooking, 1997 ed.)

In a large skillet, heat:

2 Tbs melted butter, ghee or veg oil


2 med onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp ground cumin

Cook, stirring over med heat until onions are softened, about 5 mins.

Stir in:

1 lg bunch (about 12 oz) prepared greens

Cook until wilted, about 15 mins.  Stir in:

1 Tbs mild curry powder

1/2 tsp both ground ginger and ground coriander

1/4 tsp ground red pepper

1/4 cup chicken or veggie stock, or water

Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer  and add:

1lb cooked chick peas

14 oz diced tomatoes with juice

1/2 tsp salt

Cook, stirring often, til greens are tender, about 15 mins.

Serve as a side dish, or over rice for dinner for two.

Mustard greens are super healthy.  They are quite high in vitamin A and have a good dose of C as well. And all greens are a terrific source of iron and calcium.

Add some color, zip and a nutritional boost to your meals by adding in some Mustard Greens.  When you fall in love with them, you’ll find them an easy addition to your garden as well! 🙂

The High Tunnel Waketh

High Tunnel on March 17, 2012

The lengthening days have finally awoken the spinach, arugula, lettuces and mustard greens growing in the hoophouse.  Their colors have deepened, their leaf growth rapidly gaining size and yummy crisp flavor.  We have been enjoying these delicacies with our dinners, and our customers have enjoyed finding an unexpected treat for sale at market.

Incorporating these early greens is a great way to spruce up the end of Winter seasonal diet, when starches, pickles and dehydrated herbs make up the bulk of what’s left in the pantry and root cellar. Crisp, fresh greens are a welcome change, and are packed full of nutrients your body needs to begin flushing out the Winter’s accumulation of toxins from your system.  Eating them raw is especially good.

These greens pair well with things you might have left from your Winter store.  Add apples, raisins, nuts, and other dried fruits to a fresh lettuce salad.

Ruby Streaks and Giant Red Mustard

 Mustard greens have a spicy radish-like flavor that goes really well with smoked meat.  Bacon ends, ham hocks, even fatty trimmings from a ham can be lightly braised (cooked in about 2 inches of water at med-low heat for about 10 mins) with a bunch of roughly-chopped mustard greens.  Serve with butter, salt and pepper, and vinegar if you like as a side to a nice ham, pork roast or deep-fried turkey.

Arugula has a pleasant nutty-peppery flavor.  It is terrific as a salad alone or as an accent to a rich main dish.  Arugula is classically-prepared by washing the greens and tossing to coat with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  This is an elegant, nutritious salad by itself, or makes a lovely bed for steamed vegetables, poached fish, curry, anything.  Or roughly chop the arugula and spread atop potatoes  the serve with steak or roast beast.  Arugula also makes a fine pesto, and is great on top of pizza.


The spinach is enjoyed raw or lightly steamed and makes an excellent side dish.



Traditional Spinach Salad is made from:

fresh raw spinach

slivered red onion

hard boiled eggs


generous pieces of bacon

To make a hot bacon dressing:  Save the melted fat from cooking the bacon.  While still warm, stir in 2 Tbs brown sugar, 2 Tbs mustard. and 2 Tbs vinegar of choice.

Serve Spinach Salad with Hot bacon Dressing.  Top with salt and pepper.



Greens are an excellent source of iron and an even better source of calcium than milk!  I remember enjoying them as a child, lightly wilted with a splash of vinegar, salt, pepper, and a generous pat of butter.  Or lighten up by tossing with garlic and olive oil instead.  Greens can be added to scrambled eggs, quiche, soups, stews, stir-frys, and pasta dishes.

The forecast is wonderful to keep the greens growing, and we look forward to delighting or customers at out next market with their choice to add to their own menus.

This St. Patrick’s Day, I got my green on!


Planting Garlic

One of the last few tasks in the garden each year is that of planting garlic. You can buy garlic heads to plant at a farmstand or farmers market.  The grocery store is not the best place, as what they have is likely to come from elsewhere, and you want something grown close to your location, so you know it will grow well.  Take your heard and break it apart to reveal several individual cloves.  These are what you will plant.  Look at them closely, the end with the tiny point is the top, the bottom being the roots.  Plant them root down.  They will grow if planted upside-down, but they will not get as big.  (They are interesting to look at, though!)  Plant the largest of your cloves, eat the smaller ones: The larger the love, the larger the finished head of garlic next year.

Cloves ready for planting

Garlic grows best when planted in the fall, anytime after October 1st until the ground is frozen.  Technically, the earlier it is planted, the better as it has more time to root in a little before winter sets in. But really it will usually do well no matter when you get  around to planting it.  Just remember, the later one waits, the colder, wetter and heavier the soil, and generally the less pleasant the task.

Since garlic cloves will be sleeping in the ground all winter, remember they will be subjected to the heaving up of the soil that naturally occurs when the ground it freezing and thawing with the changing weather.  Garlic cloves that are not planted deep enough can actually heave right up out of the soil, and left sitting on top of the ground, they will most likely rot.  There are a few ways of dealing with this, depending on you situation.  When planting garlic, try to get the cloves at least 3 if not 4 inches into  the ground.  A handy way to measure is to use a trowel with measurements on it, or get an old stick and mark in at 4″.

If your soil is less than desirable and you can not get it in that deep, cover your planting when you are finished with some sort of mulch or covering, such as straw, grass clippings, compost, or even newspaper. The garlic will send out green shoots in the spring.  It will grow right up through hay, compost or clippings;  newspaper will have to be lifted off with a rake as soon as the first shoots appear.

Plant the garlic 4-6 inches apart, in rows about 12″ apart for row culture.  Garlic is from the genus Allium, in the same family as onions, chives, shallots and leeks.  All Alliums also respond well to growing in”clumps”, and many growers plant their garlic in this way, close together yet spaced enough so each plant has room to grow, but touching each other when full sized. Alliums also tolerate cold weather well, and are often the first green shoots to come up each spring.

Garlic usually pokes through as early as late March.  It’s always nice to see the first shoots, an affirmation both of Spring being not far off, and of your success in planting the garlic! If you have heavily mulched them, gently pull the covering aside and let Nature take its course.


Garlic on May 24th, 2011

The only other thing you need to do with the growing garlic is remove the Scapes. Scapes are the term for the garlic’s flower stem which usually appears in June.  When let to grow, these stems will curve beautifully into a corkscrew pattern a short time before they ultimately straighten up and produce a number of little bulbits.  These bulbits can be planted and will produce garlic heads, but it takes 4 years for them to reach full-size.  (These garlic bulbits are terrific to save a few however, for they make great garlic pills, being live and active, and are far better product than can be bought in the store.)  To remove the scapes, let them grow and curve at least one full circle:  If cut too soon, they will simply regrow, and you also will be missing the chance to do some really great cooking!  Cut the scapes with a knife or scissors.  You can either compost them, or cook with them!

Garlic scapes just beginning to curl

The scapes have a wonderful garlic flavor, slightly milder but not unsatisfying to the garlic-lover’s palate.  They can be used like a scallion, chopped or minced and tossed into cold and hot dishes.  My favorite way to prepare (and preserve) them is to throw them in the food processor with some olive oil, and chop them into a nice paste that look much like a Pesto.  This can be used as is, tossed on pasta or to make garlic bread, salad dressings, etc.  Or if you have a good quantity, you can put this green paste into ice cube trays and freeze.  Once frozen, pop them back out of the trays and into freezer bags to use all winter, or the rest of summer while you wait for the garlic heads to finish. Another wonderful thing to do with scapes is to pickle them.

from Old Barn Hollow Farm
Garlic scapes ready for pickling. Photo by Karen Allen


Pickled Scapes Contributed by (Allen’s Old Barn Hollow Farm)

 1 lb scapes
 1/4 c. canning salt
 2 tsp. mustard seed
 1 tsp. dill seeds
 2 3/4 c. white vinegar
 2 3/4 c water

Pack scapes in hot jars.
Boil the rest of the ingredients for 1 minute.
Pour into jars leaving 1 inch head space. Put on lids and WB for 10 min.
 makes 3-4 pints

Garlic is finished and ready to harvest any time between late -July and mid-August, depending on the variety you’ve panted.  Garlic should not sit in the ground until the tops die back, though this is a popular myth.  By then the garlic underground has split its paper, and is less desirable for cooking and storage.  Burst bulbs are fine for planting, however.  the garlic should be pulled when only the bottom two leaves are obviously dead.  Digging one to check is fine. Properly planted garlic will need to dug to loosen the roots when harvesting, otherwise pulling alone may lead to broken stems and lost garlic.  Just use caution, do not jab the shovel in too close or the head may be severed.  If you do cut up some bulbs during harvest, these will not keep, and thus should be eaten up first.

Once pulled, the garlic can sit on the ground in the garden for a day or two to cure and dry the papers if the weather will be sunny.  Then the garlic should be bunched (or braided) and hung in a dark, airy place to finish curing for a couple weeks.  Garlic is perfectly edible before the curing, but you will notice the papers are not fully developed and it’s a bit more effort to peel it. For fresh garlic, you are not likely to mind.

Once cured, the stems can be cut and the garlic stored in onion bags or baskets in a cool dry place, such as a pantry. (Don’t forget to select you planting stock for the next year! Pull out the biggest heads and/or cloves to plant; this will increase the size of your heads every year.) They need dry conditions to store, the fridge is not the best place.  Garlic will normally store until about New Years, some varieties longer. To keep your garlic supply going longer, there’s a couple things to try.  One is to peel the individual cloves and store them in a jar in the refrigerator.  These should stay crisp for fresh mincing.  You can also put the cloves in the freezer, but when they thaw they will not be crisp.  They are still great for sauces, etc, though. Garlic can also be minced and mixed with oil to refrigerate or freeze.  Garlic is excellent to pickle, as well. A great way to store it for years is to peel and slice the cloves, then dehydrate.  The dehydrated garlic can be thrown whole into sauces or stews, or blended/mortared into garlic powder and used as is.  This works really well, definitely worth the investment in the dehydartor!

Dehydrated Garlic

Share your garlic stories, recipes, your favorite way to store it, and your favorite varieties!  Mine currently are German White, Spanish Roja, and Carpathian. What are you planting?

Homemade Vanilla Extract!

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