Garlic, garlic, garlic! It seems that everywhere I go now people are talking about garlic. And I mean really, who can blame them?! Garlic is a powerhouse vegetable, with so many great health benefits! It is good for your heart, your circulatory system and adds a great boost for your immune system.
By now you have probably heard about Fifth Gen's garlic products, but just in case you haven't, I'll do a quick recap. My dad and I have teamed up to create something that is both unique and flavourful. In an attempt to find something from the farm that could support me throughout the winter, the idea of smoked garlic was forged. We already had the smokehouse, and when I approached my dad to ask whether or not smoked garlic could be done, his reply was, "I can smoke anything!" It took a few trial batches to get our techniques down pat, and also took some time to get inspected and the food permits, but just a few months later and here we are! We now have three main products: Smoked Garlic, Black Garlic, and Smoked Black Garlic. And we are constantly trying something new!
Once we got the ball rolling on the production side of things, it was then time to plant and plan for next year. In mid-October, roughly 25,000 cloves of garlic went into the ground! As luck would have it, our seeder broke down and it all had to be done by hand. All I have to say about that is that my family is incredible! Without hesitation, all 6 of us (my parents, my boyfriend, my sister and her husband, and myself) were out there in the field making sure the crop was seeded before the snow came. Even my sister's dog, Mo, was there to lend a paw. It was a HUGE job but something that I am quite proud of. This is why I love our farm so much, it's a family affair whether you are directly involved or not. After we finished planting, our neighbour graciously spread straw over the garlic plot, hoping to add enough mulch to protect them from the harsh winter temperatures. Only time will tell, but I am very excited to see the first shoots poke their noses out in the spring!
Moving forward, I want to find a way to both utilize our land and make a profitable business. In order to grow such a large amount of garlic, we are planning to use rotation methods, which will help us keep our garlic chemical free. The rotation will include planting alfalfa, allowing it to fix nitrogen to the soil and giving the deer and bees something to eat for a few years. The ground will then be prepped, and our next crop will be seeded. At the moment we plan to have four plots in rotation, putting small chunks of our land to good use. While a great deal of the crop will be put into these specialty products, I hope to sell garlic seed as well. This year, I have 7 different varieties in the ground, so please remember to check back with me in the fall when you are planning on planting your own!
Learning how to make, market and sell specialty garlic products has been nothing short of an adventure. When I first started Fifth Gen, I gravitated towards a CSA distribution model and hadn't really considered selling at markets. In November of last year, I did my first market and was blown away by how well people responded to my products and my story. Since then, I have become a somewhat regular vendor at the Camrose Campus Market. The atmosphere is so bright and cheery, and the other vendors are all so welcoming! I have always said that food brings people together, and this garlic has brought forth more opportunities than I ever thought possible. Over the past month, I have spent a great deal of time reaching out to and connecting with local restaurants in hopes that they will use our products. Putting myself out there is something that I have always struggled with, but I am so grateful for these unexpected paths!
Since our products are so unique, I am often asked how best to use them. I am always looking for new recipe ideas and I greatly appreciate the feedback from my customers. Here are five ideas to get you started, be creative and have fun while you're cooking!
5 Ways To Use Fifth Gen Garlic:
1. Smoked Black Garlic Steaks
Plain and simple - rub a smoked black garlic clove on your choice of cut, fire up the BBQ and throw it on the grill! Because black garlic naturally has a softer texture, it makes it very easy to spread.
2. Smoked Garlic Mashed Potatoes
4 large potatoes
4 oz (1/2 a block) cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp butter
2 smoked garlic cloves
Peel and cube potatoes. Bring pot to boil and allow to simmer until potatoes are tender. Mash or whip potatoes and add cream cheese and butter. Season with salt and pepper, and press in garlic.
3. Smoked Black Garlic Tomato Sandwich
A new twist on an old classic! There is nothing more satisfying than a toasted tomato sandwich, except perhaps one made with our smoked black garlic!
2 pieces of toast
2 cloves of smoked black garlic
Smear garlic cloves on the toast, then add your tomato. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!
4. Smoked Garlic Cheese Dip
1 bulb of smoked garlic, roasted*
1 8oz block of cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
In order to roast the garlic, cut the tip of the bulb off just so that cloves are exposed. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil. Bake at 400F for approximately 30 minutes, or until the cloves are soft when they are squeezed.
After the garlic is roasted, remove all cloves and place in a bowl. Use a fork to mash together. Meanwhile, combine cheeses (leave a handful of shredded mozzarella for the end) and sour cream and add the garlic to the dairy mixture. Mix well and place in a lightly greased baking dish. Top with the remaining mozzarella cheese and bake covered for 30 minutes. Enjoy with bread, chips or crackers.
*this dip can be catered to your own taste preference. Feel free to use as much or as little garlic as you would like.
5. Black Garlic & Honey Baked Brie
1 wheel of brie cheese
1 bulb of black garlic, peeled
Top brie with black garlic and honey. Bake at 350F for approximately 10 minutes.
You can find any of these garlic products in our online store.
Or, come find me at the next market!