My Garlic Shortage
Okay, it’s official: I will definitely run out of garlic before the next harvest of that crop in our area (mid-July). I have five heads left. It is no longer available at the farmers markets.
It wouldn’t have helped me to stockpile more from last year because what I have is getting dried-out and chewy and sprouting in the middle. This is a potential culinary crisis for me because a lot of my cooking includes garlic (hey, I’m half Greek). I considered granting myself a retroactive garlic exemption for The 250, but decided that would be against the spirit of the experiment.
Last Saturday the weather was almost spring-like, so I headed to Prospect Park knowing I would find plenty of field garlic (Allium vineale). I’ve had bronchitis for the past week though, so my stamina for foraging wasn’t good. I dug up one good-sized clump and called it a day.
The thing about field garlic is that it is an ephemeral that dies back to the ground when temps warm up. If I want it to replace the domestic garlic that is running out, I need to stock up by mid-May. The other thing about field garlic is that it is a lot more work than domestic garlic. It doesn’t form heads of large cloves. Instead, there are tiny cloves about the size of your little fingernail scattered throughout a tangled mass of roots.
First, I washed all the dirt and pebbles out of the mass of roots. I saved the tender white parts of the stems along with the cloves because they are also good (think scallions).
Then I ran out of steam and dumped the semi-cleaned mass in a plastic container in the refrigerator until I could get back to them the next day. This afternoon, I peeled off the tan papery husks that were on some of the tiny cloves.
After that I minced and froze them. The total yield was about what you’d get from two medium-sized heads of domestic garlic. Not bad for one clump of field garlic, but a lot of work and clearly not enough to get me through until July. I’ll be digging up more field garlic between now and when it goes dormant in late spring.
Given the option, I’d be using domestic garlic, which has been bred for large cloves and easy harvesting. But I like the fact that I knew a foraging alternative. And hey, it got me out into the park on a nice day and it was free.