If I was in garlic overdrive in early August, I am jetting through clouds of Allium sativum this final weekend.
Or, to put it bluntly, I reek of garlleek! I’ve spent the weekend feeling like a walking, talking loaf of garlic bread. Chances are, I have smelled like one too.
On Friday, I began making my first (and possibly last) batch of garlic powder.
I began by collecting leftover German White, Spanish Roja, and Music garlic bulbs in the barn. I ended up with a total of 30 bulbs, which I broke into 200 cloves. Although my Houtzdale students swore that peeling the cloves by shaking the coverings loose in two stainless steel bowls was their secret to success—I failed that lesson. Perhaps I just don’t have the upper body strength. A few of the papery skins came off, but I soon realized the shake ‘n bake method wasn’t going to work for me.
So, my Mom and I spent a good hour peeling 200 cloves of garlic. With essential oils gluing the garlic skins to the tips of our fingers—a sticky mess—and play-by-play complaints of the process, I was relieved when the last clove was naked.
The rest was easy. We had a generous four cups of bare cloves that I stuffed into the feeding tube of the Cuisinart, pulse, pulse, and all were sliced. Around 3 p.m. Friday I spread the garlic slices in single layers on the trays of the dehydrator, set the dial to 130 degrees, and plugged in the machine. Then the fragrance began.
The kitchen, the entire house, smelled like gently roasting garlic. Vapors of the “stinking rose” carried into the night. I swore I was getting high. That it was a full moon weekend only added to the buzz.
By Saturday morning, the air seemed to be more of an essence of garlic—or maybe my nostrils were numb. Occasionally I checked the dehydrator, rotated the trays, tested the cloves. The goal was slices that broke with a dry snap, not a sticky bend. Finally at 5:30 Saturday evening, we were in business. I scooped up all of the garlic chips from the dehydrator trays and put them in the blender. I pressed the Liquify button and in 10 seconds or so, I had my first batch of garlic powder.
It looks a lot like cornmeal, so the first thing I did was place a label on the re-used mayo jar. Let me tell you though, when you open the lid and take a whiff, no label is needed. Powerful stuff.
The odd thing is, I now have nearly two cups of homemade garlic powder, and I’ve never even cooked with garlic powder—always used fresh garlic. So this culinary experiment will continue throughout the coming year, one quarter-teaspoon at a time. Laurie Lynch
Garlic Airmail: An envelope from Houtzdale containing a letter from one of my students and a large plastic vial protecting three bulbs of Italian Red garlic arrived at the post office.
I made two mistakes in a previous newsletter—it was David’s grandfather (not father) who made a return visit to Italy in 1947 (not 1942) to see his mother and family again. See what happens when a teacher doesn’t have a pen in hand?
“He found post-war destruction and tough conditions overall,” David wrote of his grandfather’s visit in 1947. His grandfather came from the town of Oriolo Romano, Viterbo Province, in the hills about 25 miles north of Rome. He returned to the States with the garlic of Oriolo Romano.
“The strain of garlic never was really large, and it has weakened in the past nearly 70 years. We still use it and like it a lot!” It is an Italian family heirloom that I will adopt and treasure.
Error of Omission: While I’m confessing, I also want to explain that the image of the Belgian beauty with grapes in Fleur-de-Potluck is actually a photograph I took of a blown glass vase decorated by Fritz Heckert in 1900 and displayed at Het Design Museum in Ghent. Stunning.