Why our house reeks: freezing and pickling garlic

Look at this picture.  Does it send chills up your spine?  It did mine.  All of my precious garlic that I had seeded a year earlier, tended, weeded and carefully harvested, looked like this, last week.  Eighty (I saved four) moldy garlic cloves is almost enough to drive me to despair.  Almost.  I found this web site, with lots of good information on storing garlic and even it’s chemical make-up, and we went to town.  The winds must have been blowing just the right direction that day, because the girls bought into the idea that peeling garlic in an assembly line could be fun.

I was so proud of my monster cloves.

There’s absolutely nothing like gardening to take you down a notch!  Now I know that you need to let your garlic cure long enough so that when you cut the dried tops and root hairs off, your fingers don’t smell of garlic.  Let’s just say I’m going to be fanatical about the curing part next year.  (I must have had beginner’s luck in previous years.)

We peeled and processed garlic for a number of hours; all the while our furniture, walls, and clothes were soaking up the fumes.  A day later I left the house, returned and opened the door then staggered back.  It was like walking into the mouth of someone who eats pesto for a month without brushing their teeth.

We threw most of it into the food processor, with some olive oil, to freeze for later use.

If you try this, make sure to score it with a knife before putting it into the freezer.

So, what started out as a catastrophe, turned out not too badly.  This winter I will be thankful for the little cubes, when all I have to do is open a ziploc bag for my requisite garlic.  And, this morning I may have just secured a trade with my friend Shanon.  She’ll give me some fresh bulbs for some frozen minced garlic.  There’s something special about this time of year, where people exchange and share garden produce like a busy day on Wall Street.

I also tried pickling a few jars.  Now that’s my kind of processing!  I filled the jars with cloves, covered with red wine vinegar, and put them in the fridge.  They’ll be ready in 2 weeks–and last up to a year in the fridge.

pickled garlic

While we furiously stuff the jars, Stan asks, “How exactly are we going to eat these?”

I assure him confidently, “Oh, on everything!”

And now I’m wondering, is that true?  How do you eat pickled garlic?

*Important info:  after all of this happened I talked to a local garlic guru.  She told me if I had just set the bulbs out in the sun, and peeled back the black, fuzzy, layer, they would have been fine…

**********

This past Sunday we decided to take our canoe out for one more paddle.  We went to a lake we had never been on before, hoping to scout it out for a backcountry trip next summer.  The night before we left, we printed off a vague map of the area, from Google, and planned to do some bush whacking to see if we might be able to portage to a few smaller, more remote lakes.  Half-way through the day we docked on the shore of the big lake that we started out on.

We docked here for a break.

Stan and Belén went on a little hike and graciously left Susanna and me with the bear spray (and Susanna’s lungs).  Both she and I were feeling sleepy so we cleared a spot of the underbrush and made a little bed for ourselves in the spruce needles and moss.  It was one of those rare times when you are with one of your children and you are really there–not thinking about what task you need to do next, or replaying a past conversation.  (As I said, a rare time.)  We were flat on our backs, lying on the ground, when Susanna said, “It’s like we’re at a resort.”

“What do you mean by resort?” I asked her, looking at her dirty face, the reeds that almost hid the lake from view, and the decomposing logs strewn around us.

“Like in Mexico, you know, a resort.”

“Mmm…”  I wasn’t quite sure what part of our scenario reminded her of the five-star, all-inclusive property we had stayed at in the Mayan Riviera (to attend my brother’s wedding).  There was no one serving cocktails here, in fact, there was no sign of any humans at all.

We were looking up at this…

… and both of us were very relaxed, so I guess she was right.  It was kind of like a resort.

(Note to self:  remember this before pressing the “accept charges” button for another exotic holiday.)

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