Accidentally Cooking

Documenting my mistakes in the garden, kitchen and pantry


Leave a comment

Garlic Barter

It’s no secret that I’ve been making lots and lots of Jam. Taking stock last week, depending on how you count, I have about 70 jars of jam (jelly, syrup and fruit butters) in the pantry, most of which are 8oz. The goal has always been to use these jars as inexpensive, heart-felt, homemade gifts for holidays and as party favors and things like that. All the jars I can keep out of my gaping maw, anyway. Of course there’s another use for this trove of homemade treasure: bartering [1].

A colleague from work maintains a pretty large garden compared to my little plot, and he has had a substantial garlic harvest. I mentioned that I was going to buy some garlic heads to plant this fall and he suggested something even better: Trade some of his home-grown garlic for some of my homemade jams.

In exchange for three 8oz jars, I got two cloves each of the following garlic varieties:

…for a total of 10 heads. A similar amount from a farm or garlic supplier would have cost me 20$ or more, plus shipping. He has so much to spare (and the amortized per-head cost comes down so far due to multiplication) that the trade makes good sense all around.

Assuming at least 6-8 suitable cloves per head (more or less), and assuming they all do well in my little plot, I could end up with around 60-80 heads of garlic next year. That’s more than enough for us to use in 2014, to replant for 2015, and pass along a few heads to the next interested gardener thereafter.

These heads are all from the “Porcelain” and “Rocambole”  garlic families, both of which are hard-neck and winter hardy. I live right about on the cusp of where winter-hardy garlics are a requirement. The garlic I grew last year came from sprouted leftovers of supermarket garlic, unnamed softneck (probably “artichoke”) varieties from California and China. There are a few other garlic types I would really like to try my hand at eventually (Asiatics, Turbans and Creoles), but this is a very good start for 2014.

Notes

  1. I have to double-check the relevant laws and regulations, but I don’t think I can legally sell my homemade products in PA. Not without some sort of licensing, inspection and lab testing. Considering the size batches I typically work with, it would cost me more in terms of money and effort to get approved for commercial sales than I would probably earn in profit from the whole enterprise. For now, if you want my stuff you have to offer something else home-made in return (and promise not to sue me if you get sick from eating it, which definitely won’t happen).