It happens every year; your garlic sprouts and you face somewhere between 1 and 6 months without fresh garlic (unless you buy chemically treated stuff from another country...and I don't) or you can do it like my friend Deb.
Last year I put all my eggs in one basket and relied on our 1,000 garlic cloves planted at the community garden. They grew big and fat and were close to being ready to dig (and making us some money for some jobs we needed to do), when along came more rain than anyone expected and, yes, the garlic patch was flooded and most of the garlic rotted off before we could rescue it.
Ever since, I have had to buy it at the Cygnet market or beg it from friends. Now some of that is starting to sprout because, of course, most people I know had that same rain as did the community garden so most of the local garlic heads split open prematurely, making them likely to sprout early.
This means I am going to have a seriously long stretch without fresh garlic this year (we are planting our community garden garlic on higher ground this time AND I have planted some in my own garden!). Since I have paid for what I do have, I am not going to waste a single clove!
Funny how things come along.... on Tuesday I went to a friend's house for a Chinese cooking lesson and there in her lounge room was a bowl full of bulbs with long, green shoots and looking so beautiful I thought it was a lovely piece of living art. She is Chinese and explained that in China this is what you do with sprouting garlic; you let it sprout and all winter you cut the shoots for your cooking. Soooo simple, soooo sensible; soooo beautiful.
Somehow mine does not look as perfect as hers, and of course the shoots on mine have hardly started growing, compared to hers. I am hopeless at art! But you get the idea. You only have to keep a tiny bit of water in the bowl, for the roots to grow into. The food for the growth is all in the bulb.
It never rains but it pours.... and I happened across a pickled garlic recipe recently too. I loved pickled garlic when I was in France, where it was available everywhere but I had not been able to find a recipe quite like the French one until now. It also is so simple....
Drop all the unpeeled cloves into boiling water for no more than a minute, to loosen the skins. Drain and cool enough to handle, then peel. Heat 1 cup of apple cider vinegar in a pan with a good pinch of saffron and a tablespoon of sugar. Boil for a couple of minutes. Put the garlic cloves into jars with some fennel seeds, peppercorns and a bay leaf. Pour over the hot vinegar to cover the garlic and seal. That's it..... Bon appetit!
So now we can all have garlic all year round, thanks to the Chinese and the French..... Why did it take me 53 years to find this out??