Locally Grown Seed Garlic for Idaho Gardeners.
Garlic Goes With Everything
Doesn’t it feel like garlic is in every dish you prepare? It sure does at my house. I use garlic in almost everything. Garlic adds so much flavor to every dinner I prepare. I can’t imagine cooking without it. A few months ago, I stopped using the pre-diced garlic. You know the kind you get at the supermarket with the green or blue lid. Even though it is cheaper and easier to use, the flavor was lacking. I felt like I could taste the plastic jar. The decision to switch to exclusively using fresh garlic was the correct choice.
Growing garlic at home is easy, productive, and satisfying. Not only do you get to know where your staple produce is coming from, but the varieties of garlic you can grow are also mind-opening. This year Zamzows found a new vendor for garlic and introduced three new varieties to choose from!
Certified Seed Garlic Only
You may be wondering, what is the difference? Why can’t I plant the garlic I get from the store? There are a couple of reasons you shouldn’t plant your grocery store garlic. The main reason is disease specific to garlic and other plants in the same family. White-Rot is a disease that has no cure, and once it gets into the soil, it will rarely go away. This creates a potential risk to the farmers of Idaho that rely on these crops for their livelihood. White-rot is the reason the Idaho department of agriculture puts strict restrictions on the source of these crops. What this means for us is, to grow garlic in Idaho, it must be from Idaho. The bottom line is: protect and support your local farmers and “grow” by the rules. Only plant locally raised and certified garlic seed.
Hard Neck Vs. Soft Neck
Seed garlic is broken down into two varieties: softneck and hardneck. Softneck varieties don’t grow a thick flower stalk making braiding easier for storage. They will also store longer but aren’t known for their strong flavor. They will, however, produce more cloves per head. Hardneck varieties will form a thick flower stack that will go all the way through the head. They will not last as long in storage, however they are packed full of flavor. Hardneck varieties won’t produce as many cloves, but they will be easier to peel!
Soft Neck Varieties
Early Italian Purple – is a great place to start if this is your first year growing garlic. It will produce lots of sweet and spicy cloves that can be used in just about anything you want to cook.
Early Italian – is very similar to what you will find in the grocery store. If you like using a lot of garlic this is a great choice. Its mild flavor will go well with just about anything you plan on dishing up
Susanville – will mature earlier than other varieties, making it a perfect addition to your garden for some early harvest. Its mild flavor and body make it very versatile and great for cooking or roasting.
Lorz – is the ideal choice for those of us that enjoy a lot of garlic flavor! It’s easy to peel cloves add tons of flavor, and goes great with potatoes and pasta. A simple garlic white sauce with gnocchi and a poached egg on top, add little parmesan and paprika. Oh, now I’m hungry. I’ll add a recipe below.
Inchelium – is another early harvest garlic that won’t disappoint. Inchelium will produce large bulbs that store well and add a rich garlicky flavor to your dish.
Chesnok – is the only hardneck variety we have this year, but it’s worth checking out. This variety can produce heads weighing up to one pound. This one is full of flavor and is great for cooking, baking, or roasting.
Garlic Bechamel with Gnocchi and Poached Eggs.
1 – package premade gnocchi
2 TBSP – butter
2 TBSP – flour
3-4 – cloves diced garlic
1 cup – whole milk or heavy cream
4 – large eggs
Salt and Pepper
Prepare your gnocchi
If you have the time to make fresh gnocchi you won’t be disappointed. I usually opt for the shelf-stable packs at the supermarket. Season a pot of water with a generous amount of salt and bring to a boil. Add your gnocchi and cook until they begin to float. Remove from heat and drain. Pour the drained gnocchi back into your pot, and drizzle a small amount of olive oil and mix to prevent sticking. Cover to keep warm.
Make your Bechamel
Finely dice three to four cloves of garlic. Or more if you really want to taste it. Warm about a cup of heavy cream or whole milk in the microwave. You’ll need it in just a moment. In a medium saucepan, melt two tablespoons of butter. When the butter begins to froth a bit add your garlic and sauté until fragrant. This should only take about a minute. Then add about two tablespoons of flour to your butter and whisk together. This will form a thick paste or roux. Once incorporated add a small amount of your warmed milk and mix. Add more milk slowly over a few minutes. You don’t want the sauce to cool rapidly. So, add a little at a time. Your bechamel will begin to thin and you can usually add the last ¼ cup of milk all at once. Continue to whisk until it begins to thicken back up. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set on a back burner on low heat, stirring occasionally.
They may seem daunting at first, but they are very easy to make. Just be gentle. There are a few different ways to make them. This is how I make them, and you don’t need any vinegar. Add water to a tallish skillet. Ideally 1.5 to 2 inches. Set the heat to medium and watch for tiny bubbles to form at the bottom of your pan. As the water bubbles, crack an egg on a flat surface, hold the egg just over the warm water and gently finish your crack allowing the egg to gently fall into the water. Reduce the heat slightly so the eggs don’t roll around. Use a slotted spoon or fry spatula to skim off any egg bits that accumulate on top of the water. After a few minutes, the egg whites will lose their opacity and you can gently lift them and test for doneness. You want them to be runny so they should be a little squishy. When the eggs are done, transfer them to a plate and salt and pepper to your preference.
Bring it All Together.
At this point, I like to put a little bit of olive oil in a pan on medium heat. When the oil gets shinny add your gnocchi to the pan and fry for a few minutes. This will warm them back up and give them a little crunch. Spoon your warmed gnocchi to a plate, add an egg and a generous spoonful of your bechamel. Spice with a sprinkle of paprika and add freshly grated parmesan. Some roasted asparagus or broccoli will go well with this dish, and a little of your bechamel won’t hurt them either. Enjoy!