Posts Tagged ‘Australian garlic’

Our friends Ian and Diana Ditchfield are small scale garlic growers based in the NSW Central Tablelands.  Their crops are grown chemical free, and lovingly tended by hand.

This year they’ve grown Australian White Garlic ($25/kg or $15/500g)…

…Australian Red Garlic ($25/kg or $15/500g), my new favourite…

The cloves have a gorgeous reddish tinge...

…and Purple Stripe Garlic ($30/kg or $18/500g).

If you’re based in Australia and would like to purchase from the Ditchfields, please drop them an email at anarelfarm(at)gmail.com.  Due to quarantine restrictions, they’re unable to ship to South Australia, Tasmania or Western Australia, and their minimum order is 500g, although they’re happy to sell in mixed lots (postage will be extra).

I’ve bought a kilo of each variety!  As I do every year, I’ve broken two-thirds of the bulbs up and frozen the cloves for use over the next 12 months.  With all the recent concerns about imported garlic, it’s nice to know that we’ll have a plentiful supply for the upcoming year!

Garlic cloves, separated but unpeeled, vacuum-sealed ready for freezing.

. . . . .

Addendum: Here’s a photo of last year’s frozen garlic, which I’ve pulled out to use up now that the new season crop has arrived.  It’s been in our stand-alone freezer for a full year, and is still perfect for cooking!

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As we’re awash with new garlic, I thought it was prudent to use up the remains of my frozen stash from last year!

When we buy our new season garlic each year from Di and Ian, we keep some of it aside for immediate consumption and break the rest into cloves which we vacuum seal and freeze in a thick plastic bag.  After a full year in our stand-alone freezer, our cloves were still in great condition…

Freezing changes the texture of the cloves – they become translucent and softer.   Peeling is much easier, and we don’t really discern a noticeable difference in flavour or aroma, although we do always cook our frozen garlic.

I made a caramelised garlic filling using a Dan Lepard recipe which I posted about almost exactly one year ago. The recipe specifies boiling the unpeeled cloves, but as our defrosted garlic was already quite soft, I simply immersed them briefly in a bowl of boiling water and then removed the papery skins.  You can see from the photo below that the defrosted cloves are a different  colour and texture to fresh – they’re no longer crunchy, but rather have a soft, almost gelatinous quality to them.

The blanched cloves were browned briefly in olive oil, before a mixture of water, balsamic vinegar, caster sugar, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary were added (quantities are here)…

The thick caramel was allowed to cool slightly before being incorporated into a batch of white sourdough.  I simply flattened out the dough, spread over the mixture, and folded the sides over to enclose it.

The end result was delicious – sweet, but not overly so – and very garlicky!

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I have a great story about Pete’s cousin, MJ (who is going to shoot me when she reads this).

When their grandmother passed away a few years ago, city girl MJ generously offered to help sort through Grandma’s old country house before it was sold.  While rummaging through a pile of clothes stacked on top of a closet, she pulled out what she thought was an old fur coat, only to find her hand grasping a large dead rat.

After screaming and running out of the house, she stood on the grass, trying to catch her breath, when a toy rubber snake caught her eye.  Then it moved.  More screaming ensued, which ended with her curled up in the foetal position on a bed, demanding to be taken home to the city.

Now, I have to confess, I’m about as comfortable in a rural setting as MJ is.  So whilst I was very excited at the prospect of spending the day with our old friends Diana and Ian on their small property near the Blue Mountains, I was a little perturbed by Di’s remark that they might be shearing sheep that day, and that we’d all be put to work.

The perturbation subsided as soon as we arrived.  Di and Ian’s property is so relaxing, and so incredibly welcoming, that our few hours there felt like a week’s holiday.

And we were indeed put to work, as were our friends Christina and Steve who joined us for lunch, although it didn’t involve shearing, much to Small Man’s disappointment.  However, we did move the sheep…

Aren’t they beautiful?

The lambs needed to be sorted from the ewes and weighed, and it was Big Boy’s job to push them off the weighing platform.  I asked him what it felt like, and he said it was “like trying to move a furry sofa that pushes back”.

As I’ve mentioned before, Di and Ian are small scale garlic growers – and whilst their garlic isn’t certified organic (a very expensive process here), it is grown organically and all tended and weeded by hand, a laborious process that necessitates the unpaid slave labour of their three handsome sons.

The garlic was harvested in late November, and has been drying and curing ever since. I thought you might like to see some photos of the process.

It’s hard to get an idea of scale, but these large Russian bulbs are the size of  my fist…

The purple striped garlic are a new crop for Di and Ian…

Different varieties were hanging from the rafters..

..and drying on airing shelves, before being cleaned up for sale…

We bought two kilos of garlic to add to our homegrown crop.  Compared to our baby bulbs, Di and Ian’s are large and perfectly formed.  Their Australian white garlic will sell for $30/kg this year, and the purple stripe variety for $35/kg.   If you’re in NSW and are interested in purchasing some, please email Diana – djditchfield(at)hotmail.com.

(Edit: My apologies for the earlier misinformation, but Di’s just let me know that they can only post to NSW, not the whole of Australia.  I believe there are quite convoluted quarantine rules about shipping garlic interstate).

Most of the garlic we bought were Australian whites, with their lightly blushing bulbs and pungent, creamy pink cloves (there’s a kilo of garlic in the photo above)…

The beautiful purple stripe garlic is quite different, but equally as delicious.  To my palate, these are a bit sweeter, both in aroma and flavour…

Christina and I have bought our annual supplies, which we’ll be breaking into unpeeled cloves and freezing. Doing so will ensure that we can cook with locally grown garlic all year, without having to buy imported bulbs sprayed with toxic methyl bromide (a mandatory Australian government requirement).

After lunch, we spent time wandering around Di and Ian’s fabulous vegetable garden.  I was particularly impressed with their sage – we’ve only ever grown the ordinary gray-green type, but Diana has both variegated and reddish purple varieties growing as well.

In preparation for next year’s garlic, they’ve planted a legume crop to improve the soil.  The bonus are these deliciously sweet peas – we harvested around the edges and picked nearly two kilos to bring home!

A perfectly wonderful day, spent with great friends.  Maybe country life isn’t that scary after all!

. . . . .

Ian and Diana Ditchfield
contact: djditchfield(at)hotmail.com

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As I’ve mentioned previously, our friends Ian and Diana  Ditchfield grow their own garlic, and we stock up every year when they harvest their crop.

The three kilos Di dropped off today are absolutely gorgeous – aromatic and almost luminescent in their freshness. And whilst the garlic isn’t certified organic (certification is an expensive process), Di and Ian started their crops with organic stock, and have fastidiously kept them chemical-free.

If you’re in NSW and would like to order some, you can contact Diana via email – djditchfield(at)hotmail.com.  They’re charging $30/kg this year, or $20/500g, which I think is a bargain for such tenderly nurtured produce.

In terms of storage – we freeze most of our garlic, broken into unpeeled cloves.  It loses its crunch in the process, but we haven’t noticed a difference in taste or cooking quality – the added advantage being that freezing makes the cloves much easier to peel and mince.

If you don’t want to freeze it, the garlic will keep for quite a while in a cool, airy spot.  This batch was so fresh that I’ve braided some of the bulbs together to hang in the kitchen (great instructions online here)!

Next step…Dan Lepard’s roasted garlic bread recipe!

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Pete and I hit the markets recently the Spice Girl. We had a great time, despite the fact that I’d lost my voice (though Pete might say he had a great time because of that).

SG recently wrote about how she and I are “food twins”, which amused Pete enormously.  He commented that the Spice Girl and I were products of convergent evolution – two people from completely unrelated backgrounds who had serendipitously developed similar tastes and interests.  This was brought home when we passed a vegetable stand selling young Australian garlic.  It’s so rare to find local garlic at the markets that I immediately picked up four of the seven bunches on the table, then wandered off to look at other produce.  When I came back five minutes later, SG was buying the remaining three bunches…

Once home, I broke up most of the garlic into cloves and froze them for later use.  Did you know that garlic freezes brilliantly?  Separate the bulbs into cloves but don’t peel them, and freeze them in an airtight bag.   The defrosted garlic lacks the crisp texture of fresh, but the skins slip off easily, there is minimal loss of flavour and aroma, and it’s a breeze to mince them for cooking.  Since we’ve started doing this, we haven’t thrown away a single clove of mouldy garlic.

The green stems on the garlic were still quite tender and I was keen to try Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for garlic scape pesto.  I started by removing the outer layer of the stems and washing them to remove any residual dirt.


Then I simply popped them into my mini food processor with some flaked almonds, grated parmesan, olive oil and a little salt, and whizzed them until combined.  Because mine were the stems rather than the young scapes (flower shoots) Dorie used, the mix was drier and I needed to add a little hot water to loosen it up.

The pesto has a delicious garlic bite and will make a wonderful addition to soups and pasta.  I froze half in a ziplock bag and stashed the rest in the fridge with a piece of cling film pressed on the surface, to prevent oxidization.

As always, I’m happiest when I get to use something that would normally be discarded. Waste not, want not!


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