Christopher Ranch’s California Garlic Blog

It’s no mystery that fresh garlic is one of the most popular, versatile ingredients ever. What remains relatively unknown, however, are the distinct flavor, quality and health differences associated with varying garlic varieties. Christopher Ranch, a family farm in Gilroy, Calif., grows a California heirloom garlic that is a leader in each category. All Garlic Is Not Created Equal. We’ll show you why.

Archive for corn

GARLITOPIA IS GILROY, GARLIC AND FESTIVAL

Just a couple of weeks ago I was whining about how cold it was. Well, it’s been in the 90’s for a few days and, already, I’ve had enough. I feel for the parts of the U.S. that are undergoing non-stop sweat.  The heat is not my friend (I melt…), but in our neck of the woods right now, it does bring some good things…

•After harvest, our fresh California garlic bulbs love to hang out in their sunny wind-rows (see photo) for about 12 days to get nice and dry and ready for market

•Our sweet corn is getting sweeter by the minute and the ears I had yesterday were crunchy wonderful.

 •Our beautiful bell peppers are in the process of being picked and packed (the pickling up to you!)

So, I’m inclined to welcome the sunshine and the heat because it brings us all good things to eat! Ooof, I did just say that, ya’ll, but it’s so true and tasty. 

One more thing the heat brings… The Gilroy Garlic Festival.  But GGF weather is capricious… misty cool in the mornings and blazing hot in the afternoon – all the better to eat, drink, dance and revel in garlicville! So I’ll enjoy the cool time and drink plenty of water when the sun starts to melt my garlic ice cream.

I’ve been to every Gilroy Garlic Festival, all 32 of them (soon to be 33), and I’ve worked in the Christopher Ranch booth every year. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be absent at this time of year, leaving Gilroy and garlic and 100,000 “visitors” behind to go sit up to my neck in a cool body of water somewhere. But the lure of garlic is like the lure of chocolate. I just can’t get enough, have to have it, and the minute I step onto the festival grounds, no matter how tired or cranky or over it I am, the sight, the smell, and the excitement of it all just grabs me and propels me into the heart of garlitopia. I can’t deny that it’s also the scampi, the calamari and the garlic bread, but the beauty of 100,000 people all on the same page, thinking about garlic, eating garlic, looking at garlic and enjoying the heck out of garlic just makes me feel connected to a very robust and delicious world – if only for that fleeting last weekend in July.

Hope to see you there, July 29-31. GO GARLIC!

MAKE THE DAY A LABOR OF (C)LOVE

I’m trying to get all my ducks in a row (can anybody really do that?) before I leave today so that I can enjoy my 3 days off with a clear mind (whatever that is…) Yours truly will be rockin’ and rollin’ with the Corvairs band on Saturday and Sunday, but if you’re lucky enough to be grillin’ and chillin’ this weekend without worrying about the weather, unexpected guests or unfinished business, you can get down to the really important things: sleeping in, stuffing your face, downing a refreshing gin and tonic or two (preferably in your own backyard if the DD is otherwise occupied) and laughing much.

In a previous blog, I reported that the Ranch is running at full bore with garlic, bell peppers and corn coming in – a local bonanza – and if you haven’t planned your Labor Day menu yet, here’s a tasty recipe using all three. It’s from Bon Appetit on epicurious.com  As usual, there’s not nearly enough garlic so we recommend adding at least 3 cloves* of Christopher Ranch’s California “white gold” and a few stalks of our “green goddess” Green Garlic to really make this dish a labor of (c)love!

GRILLED SKIRT STEAK AND PEPPER SANDWICHES WITH CORN MAYONNAISE

2/3       cup mayonnaise

1 1/2    tablespoons red wine vinegar

1            tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1            tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1            small garlic clove*, pressed

6           4-inch-long baguette sections or one 1-pound loaf ciabatta, halved horizontally

2            ears of corn, husked

2            small red bell peppers, quartered lengthwise

1            large red onion, cut into 1/3-inch rounds

1 1/4     to 1 1/2 pounds skirt steak, cut crosswise into 6-inch pieces

Olive oil (for brushing)

Prepare barbecue (high heat). Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Set aside. Pull out some of inside of bread, forming thick shells. Brush corn, peppers, onion, cut sides of bread, and steaks with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables until charred and just tender and steaks until charred and cooked to medium-rare, about 15 minutes for corn, 8 to 10 minutes for peppers, and 5 to 8 minutes for onion, turning occasionally, and 3 minutes per side for steaks. Let steaks rest 5 minutes. Grill bread, cut side down, until charred, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Cut corn from cobs; add 1 cup to bowl with mayonnaise mixture and stir to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cut steaks diagonally against the grain into 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick strips. Arrange steak slices, peppers, and onion over bottom halves of bread. Spoon corn mayonnaise over all. Top with bread, pressing slightly to compact. (If using ciabatta, cut into 6 sandwiches.) Serves 6.

GARLIC MAKES YOUR TONGUE SMILE

Why I had writer’s block for a couple of weeks when there’s so much to write about is beyond me. I blame it on residual fatigue from the Gilroy Garlic Festival (nice try, Garlicia) but putting these words on the page has gotten me jump-started… perfect timing for GARLICIA’S TIDBITS:

Christopher Ranch’s garlic harvest is continuing, and the precious cargo is arriving by truckloads at our Gilroy “home ranch” to be graded, packed and shipped out. You can always tell it’s harvest time when the road into the ranch is strewn with the garlic chaff that flies out of the trucks. We’re at the height of our favorite season when it starts snowing garlic skins.

Garlic isn’t the only thing we’re harvesting right now. Sweet corn, yellow and white, is coming in from our fields – and how sweet it is. It’s so tasty, in fact, that you can hold the butter and save the calories! We’re also harvesting our crisp and crunchy red and green bell peppers. Garlic, corn and bells – what a perfect trio of summer flavors.

Speaking of flavor, it was the hot topic at the recent Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Foodservice Conference in Monterey, CA. Our attending sales squad, Amber (L.A. Division), Justin (Gilroy) and Anthony (New Jersey) listened to discussions focusing on flavor, safety, sustainability and consumer education, topics that Christopher Ranch is deeply invested in and has been for many years. Amber reports that PMA President, Bryan Silbermann even opened the session talking about the importance of flavor, but her favorite quote of the day (and mine) came from another attendee, “we need to make our tongues smile.” We couldn’t agree more. Flavor is what our California Grown Heirloom Garlic is all about.

Leaders of the Pack: Anthony, Amber, Justin run PMA 5K, Monterey, CA

In closing PMA news… Kudos to Amber, Justin and Anthony for running the PMA FIT 5K race that kicked off the PMA Conference. Justin and Amber both finished 3rd overall in the men’s and women’s divisions, respectively, and Anthony finished in the top 25. Congrats to all for going the distance! Further kudos to Justin for “making tongues smile” with his Green Garlic Vinaigrette – it was a hit at the conference.

Our Green Garlic packaging has been updated with large lettering to make it easier to find in the produce section. How-to-use info and Justin’s recipe are on the back of the bag. If you don’t see it at your local market, please ask your produce manager about our new Baby!

We’ve also been getting lots of thumbs up for our new Peeled Garlic bags. They’re recyclable, re-sealable and tamper proof. The best part: they contain 100% natural California Grown Christopher Ranch Garlic with no additives or preservatives. FYI: always keep Peeled Garlic constantly refrigerated at cold temps (34º to 38 is best) for longest storage life.

Well, so much for writer’s block. I’ve gone on way too long, but when it comes to garlic, I just can’t say enough.  Now, go out there, pick up some Christopher Ranch California Garlic (Green or otherwise) and make your tongue smile!