Garlic. Need we say more?

“Vostani,” a Porcelain variety

This past week I had the intern crew over for a “garlic tasting.”  I talk a lot about how different garlic varieties are good for different uses but it is one thing to hear Farmer Georgie talking and another to taste it yourself.
I roasted, chopped raw and sauteed one example of each class of garlic we have (rocambole, porcelain, marbled purple striped, glazed purple stripe, purple stripe, asiatic, turban, silverskin and artichoke).  We sat around the table and ate a lot a lot of garlic!  (And then we all had a bit of a garlic “buzz.”  I’ve experienced this before when eating a lot of garlic, particularly raw.  Your head feels all tingly and your body quite warm…).
The verdict?  Well, I think the interns were all surprised to find how different the garlic varieties really can taste!  But generally, here is what we determined:
Mildest Raw:  Artichoke
Most Pleasant Raw (spicy and rich but not too hot): Rocambole, Marbled Purple Stripe
Hottest Raw:  Asiatic (hands down.  Yowser!).
Best Sauteed:  Turban, Purple Stripe, Rocambole.
Best Roasted:  Porcelain, Rocambole, Marbled Purple Stripe

“Red Toch”, an Artichoke Variety

Now…. we could get even MORE detailed.  I didn’t offer samples for instance, of EVERY named garlic we grow (we grow over 20 varieties).  For instance, we have 4 kinds of Porcelain garlic.  Which is the best of the best of the roasted?  Georgian Fire, Music, Romanian Red or Vostani?  That will have to be a job for another day, or better yet, come down to the market today and take home a bunch to try and trial yourself!  And let me know what you think.
And yes, we will have the garlic this week at the Coupeville and Bayview farmer’s markets!  And not such food grade garlic (although plenty of that!), but also seed grade garlic as well.  Because, well, it is seed garlic time of year!  (Best time of year to plant garlic is September through November.
What is the difference between seed and food grade garlic you ask?  Well, in garlic at least, size DOES matter!  Seed grade garlic is the “biggest and the best.”  (Although not all seed garlic sellers adher to this rule.  Sadly enough!).  Why?  Because the size of the crop you reap is directly related to the size of the seed you sow.  Start with small seed, you will get a small crop even with great growing techniques (it might be SLIGHTLY bigger than what you planted).  Start with large seed, and with decent growing techniques you should harvest a large crop.   The garlic you see us selling as “seed” represents years and years (some varieties we have been growing for 9 plus years) of continually saving and selecting the best of the best and planting it for next years crop. So every year, we sort out our smaller bulbs and sell those for “eating garlic.”  The larger ones we save for ourselves, or offer for sale to other gardeners like you!

Purple Glazer, a Glazed Purple Stripe

Not only that, our seed garlic is simply THE BEST you can get for Pacific Northwest gardens.  Why?  Because it is grown in the Pacific Northwest.  Garlic acclimates to local conditions, essentially by growing the same varieties over and over on my Pacific Northwest farm I have developed “Pacific Northwest” strains of all the garlic varieties I grow.  These varieties are adapted and ready to go in our wet and mild conditions.  Even garlic grown in Eastern Washington is not as adapted to our conditions – being as Eastern Wash. has a pretty different climate than the Pacific Northwest!
If you would like to learn more about the garlic we offer, check out our website www.willowoodfarm.net and click on the gourmet garlic link.  You can also order online (for shipment if you like) or email me directly with an order we can bring to one of the markets.  Lots of pretty pictures too!
But now, the roosters are crowing and pretty soon the morning will be dawning.  Much to do and veggies to pack up for market!  So here we go with the list of veggies for today….
Coming today to the Bayview and Coupeville farmer’s markets:
From Willowood:
* Food and seed grade garlic (in case you didn’t read above)
* Potatoes!  Red, Purple and two yellows.  Plus baby mixed bags and fingerling bags
* Head Lettuce
* Onions.  Many, many onions!
* Carrots
* Beets
* Shelling Peas
* Sugar Peas
* Heirloom tomatoes (Bayview only)
* Japanese turnips – red and white
* Summer squash (we are awash in it!)
* Yellow and Dragon Langerie beans
* Summer Leeks
* Chard
* Kale
* Basil
From our friends at Prairie Bottom Farm:
* Spinach – red and green
* Cabbage
* Green beans
* Baby Onions
* Herbs
* Flower bunches
And more!
Hope to see you at the market!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey’s Prairie

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