Featured Newsletter Article
Garlic Festival Is Worth the Trip (article taken from the Fall 2013 newsletter)
The Hudson Valley Garlic Festival took place on September 28th & 29th. FBGA chartered a bus to the festival that Saturday; it’s a three hour trip (without traffic). The bus was full of our gardeners and friends, with snacks and beverages provided.
At the fair vendors were selling crafts, food and garlic (of course!). You can sample and purchase all kinds of delicious salsas, olives, honey, cheeses, pickles, pestos, hot sauce, garlic jelly, BBQ sauce and dressings. There was plenty of food to snack on and lunch items included an array of garlic knots, garlic fries, garlic ice cream and chocolate covered roasted garlic. It is a real foodie fest! There is a wide array of garlic products that you would never have thought existed, and if you are so inclined, you can purchase garlic soap, garlic lotion and garlic dog biscuits. There are plenty of garlic themed T shirts and hats to purchase. I bought a garlic-shaped cutting board and a kitchen gadget to peel cloves of garlic that is like a four-inch piece of rubber tubing.
Garlic farmers abound and garlic of all different varieties can be bought for consumption or planting, individually or in braids, bags and wreaths. There were organic, heirloom, hard neck and soft neck varieties, including Music, German Red, German White, Spanish Roja, Ukrainian and others. Soft necks tend to last longer in storage, up to a year. When you are selecting garlic bulbs for planting, make sure that they are completely dry, with cloves that are plump and firm, with plenty of papery sheath. Avoid soft, crumbly, spongy or shriveled cloves and bulbs with green shoots. Buy large bulbs to plant. Some farmers also sold shallots.
I was overwhelmed by the number of growers’ booths and ultimately out of sheer exhaustion settled on an organic grower and several others that seemed reasonably priced and had nice bulbs. I bought a variety of garlic to experiment with – I liked the taste of the Music variety. You can sample minced garlic of all varieties and toothpicks are supplied! Breath freshener could be something to pack along with your hats and sun lotion! Musicians and performers were located all around the site. There was a children’s area which included face painting, performers, and a climbing wall. Chefs gave demonstrations and garlic farmers/experts lectured.
When the crowds got large in the heat of the afternoon, I settled into the lecture and demonstration tent to hear Chef Ric Orlando of New World Home Cooking and Bistro Bar in Saugerties and Albany. He gave lots of cooking tips, as well as a great cooking demonstration on chili peppers and garlic (see recipes below). Two garlic farmers associated with the Garlic Seed Foundation (www.garlicseedfoundation.info) spoke who discouraged us from using oil to can our garlic because it will not last long and can be dangerous. Vinegar is the preferred and safer liquid.
They also informed us that the Bloat Nematode is a pest affecting New York State; it can destroy entire crops and spreads easily. They encouraged having your garlic tested by the Cornell Cooperative Extension if you suspect problems. They also emphasized how important it is to rotate your garlic crop (avoid growing it in the same area every year). Most of the garlic in the world is now produced in China, surpassing Gilroy, CA which used to be the garlic capital of the USA, but overplanting and disease put an end to that so I am going to definitely follow up on rotating crops in my garden!
Here in Brooklyn we plant garlic in November. Cut off and use the scapes of the hard neck garlic that come up late in the spring in cooking. They are delicious (very expensive in markets) and cutting will encourage better growth for the bulbs.
All in all, the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival was a great learning experience and lots of fun. Come on the FBGA trip next September!
Ric Orlando’s Chili Garlic Sauce
6 ounces hot red chiles, stemmed and chopped (any combination)
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp distilled white vinegar
Grind in your food processor or blender and store in a jar in the fridge. Use as you would jarred chili garlic paste. It can be used to finish sauces, cerviches marinades soups and right out of the jar.
Ric Orlando’s Szechuan Peanut Sauce
1 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup soy or tamari sauce
3 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp fresh ginger grated
1 1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
3/4 cup water
If you don’t have hoisin sauce, there are plenty of easy recipes on the internet. Delicious recipe for cold noodles, tofu, chicken.