The garlic was ripe and ready to harvest. The leaves were drying and flowers were fading. It was garlic harvest time.
I bundled up the garlic that I had pulled and laid it on on the lawn by the deck chairs. My son, Dylan, wandered out to see what I was up to this time. It was herbs again, of course, but this time it was food-centered herbs. This was an herb a teenaged boy can support. He offered his assistance gallantly.
I sent him to the kitchen for a couple of knives and a bowl. This kid was going to be my garlic peeler. I was going to concentrate on garlic braiding.
I gathered all the soft-necked garlic and, after peeling off the extra leaves, braided 3 clusters. I secured them with ribbons and hung them in the kitchen. Meanwhile, Dylan kept peeling garlic cloves.
I collected the largest hard-necked garlic and trimmed the roots. I nipped off the neck and peeled a few outer layers of garlic skin to give them a clean look. Some of the garlic would be replanted this fall. I like to save a few cloves from the hardiest garlic heads as we enjoy the rest for cooking. Meanwhile, Dylan kept peeling garlic cloves.
I joined Dylan in the deck chairs. He had already peeled a lot of garlic so now it was time for his loving mom to swoop in and steal his thunder. Wait. No. I didn’t mean it that way. I meant it time for his loving mom to lend a hand.
The garlic that Dylan and I had peeled (okay, mostly Dylan) went into a canning jar that we filled with balsamic vinegar. We capped and labeled the jar and put it in the refrigerator to soak. After a few days, Dylan and I could start nibbling on the pickled garlic or tossing it into salads. After the garlic has been enjoyed, the garlic-infused vinegar is available for cooking or dashing on vegetables.
This is why my teenaged boy was willing to sit in the sun with his herbally unstable mother peeling bulb after bulb. Dylan is a good worker. I rely on him to help me with a vast array of projects. He is also very smart. Each garlic clove that he denuded represented a snack or dinner item.
To me, garlic is family-friendly medicine. I think of garlic as an antibiotic, immune stimulant and cholesterol lowering herb. As my son and I sat in the backyard laughing and exchanging stories as we carved the ends off yet another clove, it looked like our sulfuric friend offered more than medicine and food. It offered a chance to connect with my wonderful son. What more can you ask from an herb?