The Cure

04
Aug
2014

Hey all!
It’s been pretty busy around here, and in keeping with Iowa tradition; pretty much no rain.  For what we’ve got going on now at the farm though, no rain is actually kind of a good thing!
WHAT?  I know.  Stick with me here.

So, right now it’s all about the garlic and onions. You can bet that here at Grade A we are 100% vampire-free.
Specifically, we’re curing.  Curing, as in preservation.  We want your garlic and onions to last through the winter.

A couple weeks ago we harvested somewhere around 12,000 head of garlic.  Here’s step one of the garlic harvest for your viewing pleasure:

This week we’re on to the onions.  We know the onion harvest is getting near when the foliage is laying down and looking pretty…well, dead.  Which is all according to plan.  As they mature, they drop their tops and all the energy from the foliage drops down to the bulbs.  This means deliciousness for us!  We give them a few days in the ground like this and when the top portion of the onion starts to firm up, they’re ready to come out of the ground.
If it rains while these guys are finishing up in the field they could rot.  So, we keep a close eye on the forecast and if it looks like rain, we’ll pull them early.  Nothing major is lost by harvesting them a bit early; we’re simply leaving them in the field so they can get as big as possible.  No need to worry though, we started harvesting this week and they’re looking beautiful!10286880_10152213190130025_6585875602182559236_o

Once pulled, the onions (and garlic for that matter), spend two or three weeks in our new curing facility.  We weren’t so fortunate last year and had to be creative, but this year we have a building with plenty of room to hang garlic and lay onions.
Like I said, we currently have 12-15 thousand head of garlic hanging.  That leaves us with around 7,000 onions 15,000 garlic left to be cured.  And after today, the onions are on their way.photo 2 photo 1

The onions we’re working with right now are known as a storage variety.  We’ve got yellows and reds.  We don’t cure the Walla Wallas, as there’s too much sugar in them.

Interesting fact: in Mexico, they often pull the onions and let them lay and cure right there in the field.  Not recommended in our lovely corner of the world due to the chance for rain to come up without much notice.

So why is curing important?  If you want to store them and eat local year-round, they need to be dry.
After the onions camp out on the cool concrete for two to three weeks, we cut the brown, cut the tops, and clean up any straggling roots; then they’re ready for winter storage.  Put them in a bag in a cool, dry location and they’ll be good until late winter/early spring.

Curing has been going on for hundreds and hundreds of years, and it’s a great way to insure that you have some choice, Grade A produce throughout the year!

So now you’re on the up-and-up with the farm.  Hmmm, what else?
A couple teasers for ya; the hens are getting VERY close to laying and we’re really excited!  Look for them at the market real soon.  Also, we’re going to have our second installment of Grade A Chef’s Challenge coming up in the next week or two; we may feature those gorgeous eggs!

Happy August everyone!  Talk to you soon.

Lettucehead