Thursday, June 17, 2010

Today is National Eat Your Vegetables Day

and I didn't even know it until I briefly glanced at the website for! I am too busy farming and selling to lift my head out of the trenches to be up on things like that this year. So NEXT YEAR I'll let you all know that ahead of time. Or better yet, please don't be shy about letting me know what is coming up to know about - haha!

So, tonight my husband and I feel like we have run a 3-day marathon (maybe a shortened Tour de France!) or even hitting the cycle by selling at our 3 local farmers' markets this week (Ypsilanti Downtown, Ann Arbor's Wednesday Market, and the Ann Arbor Westside Market). Whew! We are beat, beat, beat tonight but also exhilarated by the enthusiasm from our local community when learning about garlic scapes and their willingness to try a new food! At each market, we were still selling our scapes way past the official closing time!

Chefs purchased our scapes, as did caterers, bakers, individuals who planned to make Korean pickles, with our last sale today being to an individual who wanted some of each variety (I think we had 18 varieties with us today) who simply wanted to taste each variety in the leisure of his home and then decide which one(s) to buy in bulk if we still have them next week. 

However, the best comments I heard were (1) from a woman who did not even purchase any garlic scapes when she looked at me and said so sincerely, "Thank you for educating me about garlic scapes." (2) Another man told us "Thank you, thank you for telling me about garlic scapes. The farmer over there was not willing to take the time to answer my questions". Those thoughtful comments each brought tears to my eyes, which is what a farmer friend of mine calls "building social capital". (And in all fairness to the "farmer over there", he was probably far more established than we are and thus was likely working as hard as he possibly could to sell his produce to people coming to purchase from him without wanting or needing an "education" about the produce he had available.)

I don't have time or energy tonight to download photos (we just finished supper and it is currently 9:57 PM), but I will work on that as soon as I can.

Here is a copy of the handout we prepared that gives an overview of garlic scapes and the endless  ways to use them (sorry if the formatting is odd due to the "cut and paste" snafus - I don't have the time or energy to correct that tonight):

What are Garlic Scapes and How Should I use Them?

Garlic scapes are the curly tipped, garlickly tasting green “stem or flower-stalk” that grow from
the hardneck garlic varieties. Although the scapes have often been discarded in the US, they are
considered a culinary delicacy in many Asian countries and are increasingly available in the US.
Some Asian markets with well-stocked produce sections will carry fresh garlic scapes in season
(June in the Upper Midwest), but increasingly you may also find them at farmers' markets and
gourmet grocery stores or natural food stores. Frozen garlic scapes (called garlic shoots) are
readily available year-round in the freezer section of most Asian supermarkets (but I'm told are not nearly as tasty as fresh!).

• Taste-wise, garlic scapes are garlicky but with a fresh "green" taste. They can be used in any
dish where one usually uses garlic but would like a garlic flavor with less bite than garlic cloves.

• Garlic scapes work well chopped and added raw to salads, salsas, dips, guacamole, marinades,
pesto, bean dip, salad dressings, mashed potatoes, and a topping for pizza or baked potatoes.

• Scapes are also delightful when cooked into sauces, added to soups, stews, omelettes, frtitatas,
souffles, a stir fry, or mixed into softened butter and used to make toasted garlic bread.

• Cut into 1-inch sections, lightly steam, and you will think you are eating mild garlickly-
flavored green beans.

• Garlic scapes can also be pickled and added to homemade flavored vinegars.

• Toss or brush with olive oil and grill along with some fresh Michigan asparagus (they are in
season together).

• A simple, beautiful, and delicious garlic scape spread or dip can be made by chopping some
scapes and mixing them with mayonnaise, any white bean dip, cream cheese, or yogurt cheese.

• Finally, you can also chop up garlic scapes and store them in the freezer, no blanching required
if they have been harvested when young and tender, ready to use all winter long.

Garlic scapes will keep ~3 weeks when refrigerated loosely in plastic. However, the season is
very short, indeed fleeting (maybe 2 weeks before they either sell out or get too tough to eat), so purchase enough now when they are young, tender, and tasty to freeze, make pesto, or pickles for a reminder of summer all year long!

Dick and Diana Dyer
Your Local Garlic Growers
The Dyer Family Organic Farm, Ann Arbor, MI
“Shaping the future from the ground up!”
Coming Soon -

I will end by telling you that today I really thought we were organized enough to get to the Westside Ann Arbor Market early enough to be set up in a relaxed manner, without frenzy or feeling like we were 'flailing around". Suffice to say (no need to explain further) it did not happen. So I was surprisingly grumpy as I was driving our loaded van to the market much later than I had hoped or planned. However, as soon as we got there and began setting up, a friend I did not expect to see on that side of town happened to walk by and without saying a word, just pitched in and stayed and stayed and stayed to help by doing all these "little necessary things" to get us set up in record time.

Thanks, Jan (you know who you are!). This experience (again) taught me to let the universe unfold with these "small problems". Help will come when needed. (Now - the BP oil spill and the long-term damage it is causing is a different matter, in a different category entirely - sigh.........)

I hope you nab some scapes if they are still in season in your part of the country.  Please let me know how you used them (and what variety you purchased, if you know) and also what you thought about them. :-)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

1 comment:

Kateri said...

I'm glad it went well! I'm saving my last scapes for the pesto. I need to buy a new food processor, and hopefully that will happen today!