Making a Batch of Vampire Repellant
How’s that for clickbait, eh?
Well, the season is humming along at a fair clip here at Sandhill Lane Farm, and a little while ago we went ahead and trimmed the garlic scapes off of our garlic plants. Why, you ask? Well, there are loads of resources online that’ll answer that question, but I’ll take a stab at it too.
Wait, what is a scape and why did you cut them?
When it comes to hardneck garlic - which is the type we are growing - the normal, natural way the plant reproduces is by flowering out and producing seeds. The stalk that bears this flower is called a scape. The whole concept of the garlic plant “going to seed” is fine and all, but as farmers/gardeners, you don’t typically want this to happen.
You see, when the garlic plant goes to seed - which includes growing the scape, flower, and the seeds themselves - it does so at the cost of the bulb that is underground. And because we agricultural-types usually (and I say usually because there are exceptions) want our bulbs to grow as big as possible, we cut the scapes at the opportune moment before the flower fully develops. The garlic plant then switches its growth from the scape/flower/seeds to the bulb, resulting in some big boy bulbs some weeks later. There are rules of thumb out there for specifically when to trim the scapes, which vary a bit. We wound up waiting until the scapes curled once, forming the letter “P”, before cutting.
Once we cut them all (roughly 250 scapes from 250 plants) we shoved them into the fridge for a while, to give us time to figure out what we're doing with them.
What Comes After C-Hydrator
We also procured a dehydrator, which we are very eager to make ample use of as we grow more of our own food. It's important to us to reduce waste as much as possible, and so having another method (aside from freezing and canning) to preserve our food helps us out a lot in that effort.
The specific appliance we bought is a COSORI Food Dehydrator (model C267-FD), which I picked out specifically because the trays are all dishwasher-friendly, and capacity overall was reasonable (total of 6 trays). It also came highly-reviewed on multiple sites, with people praising the simplicity of the controls as well as how quiet the machine is when its running. But I digress...
To prep the garlic scapes for dehydrating, I grabbed the bin full of scapes from the fridge and cut the scapes into pieces roughly and inch long, and gave them a good rinse in the strainer, allowing them to air dry a bit afterwards.
Once that was done, I took them down to our basement (where we're beginning to set up a bit of a preservation workshop) and began spreading them out on the dehydrator trays.
As I quickly found out, the scape pieces were too small for the regular wire mesh trays, so the "fruit rolls" and "fine mesh" trays that we got along with the machine were the only ones that could be used. And because I'm stingy and didn't buy enough of these special trays to actually fill the dehydrator, there weren't enough trays to accommodate all the scape pieces. Two batches it is, I suppose.
The first batch was loaded into the dehydrator and set to 135 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours. When I returned the next day, I transferred the dried scapes into a mason jar (using one of those funnels specifically designed for canning), and started the second batch.
I must admit, it was quite pleasant having faint wafts of garlic permeating my senses whenever I went downstairs to the basement - but I can see how the same effect might be different for other foods (some may just straight up not smell good, especially while in the dehydrator). Will test that theory and report back.
Approximately 250 scapes fit onto 5 trays (with some overlapping happening - which the dehydrator manual is vehemently against), which would have been one single 24-hour batch, if I had the right trays. But alas...
The End(-Product) is Nigh
After using the absolutely sick funnel one more time, I admired the...slightly more than half a quart of dried scapes that resulted.
I know, I know...it's not a lot. But regardless I'll make decent culinary use of them over the fall and winter, plus scapes are kind of a "bonus" to garlic production anyways.
I decided to put a portion of the dried scapes through a bullet blender to make some garlic scape powder. From what I've read online, the flavour of garlic scape powder is milder and sweeter than that of regular garlic powder - I'm not yet curious enough to do a side-by-side taste test, but if I do I'll update this post.
Annnd here is the actual end-product:
So we're looking at equal amounts of dried scapes, and scape powder - about 1/3 pint each.
That'll do it for this post - stay tuned for more as we get ready for the garlic harvest, which is a process on its own and we'll find a way to do it wrong/different than convention, I'm sure.