In Season: Garlic

On a recent weekend ‘back home’ visiting my family, we checked out the 8th Annual Susquehanna Valley Garlic Festival near Cooperstown, New York.  Held on the rolling property of Wood Bull Antiques, various local garlic farmers and vendors displayed their bulbs, braids, garlicky creations, and literature.  Garlic is typically harvested in July and hung to dry for several weeks, and reaches its prime in early fall.  By September, garlic festivals abound, and are definitely worth a weekend excursion.

 Armed with a pocketful of spearmint gum, I set out to sample my fair share of garlic.  I tried garlic pesto, garlic biscotti, and garlic-blueberry muffins.   In one tent they were having the event’s first-ever garlic cook-off, and contestants were busy whipping up garlic aioli, garlic mashed potatoes, and garlic jalapeno poppers (all delicious, but the aioli took first prize). 

Next I followed my nose to “Anthony’s Original Garlic Wings” where they were tossing fried chicken wings with a combination of garlic, grated parmesan cheese, and some other secret ingredients.  These were the real deal…and although I went to college near Buffalo, New York and have an affinity for regular Buffalo wings, I must say these were darned good! 

Now that I’d had my fill of garlicky snacks, I began talking to the various farmers about their hints and tips for storing garlic.  This is a topic that I’m often asked about in my Connecticut cooking classes, so I figured it would be worthwhile to hear it from the experts.  All the farmers agreed that a cool, dark, non-humid location (like the pantry) was essential for keeping garlic fresh.   Bill Rowley of Laughing Goat Garlic Farm in Brockport, New York, said that he sells his garlic in brown paper lunch bags because that is the best way to store them.  The paper allows the garlic to “breathe” and keeps the garlic dry.  When moisture is introduced to the garlic, it will begin to sprout, spoiling the flavor.  Bill also warned against common mistakes:  storing garlic in the refrigerator and/or in plastic bags.  This environment is not dry enough for garlic…which, when fresh, will last up to a few months in the correct conditions.

All at once, it became apparent that I had exhausted the window of time that my young kids would tolerate being at a garlic festival, and more pressingly, my breath could kill a dragon.  I had just enough time to snap a few photos before hopping in the car, and immediately cracked open that pack of gum.

For a list of garlic festivals in your area, check out The Garlic Seed Foundation Website.

Sweet Roasted Garlic

Garlic turns wonderfully sweet when roasted, and is a great addition to mashed potatoes, tomato sauce, or even spread on toasted baguette slices for a super-simple hors d’oeurve.

Makes about 2 tablespoons mashed roasted garlic


1 large head garlic, top sliced off horizontally

1 teaspoon olive oil


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place the head of garlic on a square of tin foil.  Drizzle olive oil over cut top and sprinkle with salt. 

Seal the tin foil into a “package” and place in oven to roast for approximately 30 minutes.  Garlic will become softened.

When cooled, gently squeeze the garlic out of the papery skin into a bowl.  Mash with a fork.

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.



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