I've never paid too much attention to garlic. Sure, I love it in my spaghetti and on pizzas and I have heard that one can chase the vampires away, but I learned so much more about garlic by helping on the farm; harvesting, the varieties grown and in Part 2, you can read about my garlic tasting party. All of these experiences have directed my attention to this delightful, tangy and sometimes spicey bulb that adds flavor and body to our plates.
Jenny and John, every year at their Meadowlark farm, offer their CSA members a chance to commune with the farm and help with the garlic harvest. Carl, a loyal CSA member for over 20 years, has been a regular for the harvest for 17 years, but who's counting? I had the wonderful opportunity to get to know Carl, a fellow foodie just a little bit better by sharing a ride with him out to the farm. So, it was on a beautiful July day that we made the trek out to the farm. Garlic harvesting is a little like playing in the dirt combined with pulling weeds, combined with community- long hours in the fields talking about the weather, children, food- anything that crosses our minds. It's quite zen like. And it's fun (when it's not hard work- well, even when it is hard work, i suppose). Our reward is that the Meadowlarks always offer up a cool and refreshing lunch break for all of the helpers.
We assemble at the field and every available body helps during the harvest. Even John and Jenny's dog; Bowser-whose name has been changed to protect the innocent- actually, I've forgotten it. John pulls the tractor shovel blade under the garlic to loosen the soil, while the "garlic pullers" pull the garlic from the ground and shake the dirt free from the bulb.
After all of the garlic is pulled free from the ground and piled into neat little piles, then we head back into the garden to clean the bulbs, cut off the stalk, and neatly pile them into labeled crates.
Meadowlark planted four varieties of garlic this year totaling over 27,000 bulbs in almost an acre of land. Their garlic, cultivated for over 20 years is their specialty. And, I can say that after pulling garlic out of the ground for 3 hours, that the Meadowlark garlic is the largest most beautiful garlic I have ever seen. It really is!
(And if you want to read about my garlic tasting adventure- I'll write about that in Part 2 Chasing the Vampire; Garlic Tasting in Lake Ann in Northern Michigan.)
In this acre field, four varieties of garlic were planted. There was German White, Siberian, Georgian Fire and of course the house favorite Meadowlark.
The lunch picnic capped off a warm morning of work. It's always something that I look forward to; fresh Meadowlark veggies, shade, conversation. Lemonade, can't forget the lemonade.
I took 3 bulbs of each variety home. I wanted to compare them, cook them, taste them and see what I thought of the different varieties. I'll post my garlic tasting in the next post. Stay tuned...