While chatting to Sophie Perkins at Perwin Garlic recently, I was intrigued to learn just how much of the plant is edible. “We even plant those little cloves that are too difficult to peel,” she said. “They come up like chives or spring onions, have a lovely, mild flavour and are beautiful to cook with. In fact, we think they’re so good, we now grow them to sell – we call it green garlic.”
At Perwin, they don’t just sell the bulbs and green garlic, they reduce farm waste even more by harvesting garlic scapes. Before “hardneck” garlic species are ready to pick, they shoot up a snake-like, bendy flower bud. These are known as garlic scapes, and they’re wonderful grilled, sauteed, boiled or roasted. Grow your own, look for them at farmers’ markets or buy online.
If you have an abundance of old garlic bulbs, preserve them for months, if not years, by pickling: pour a 50:50 solution of hot water and vinegar, seasoned generously with salt and sugar, over the top of the peeled cloves and store in the fridge. Or make today’s moreish confit garlic, which has a rich, caramelly but mild flavour and is lovely just as it is, spread on toast, turned through pasta or used instead of, or as well as, fresh garlic.