Monday, August 20, 2012

4th Annual Garlic Festival


We went to our very first garlic festival this past weekend. It was held in Richmond by The Sharing Farm Society. It was a free event and there were activities for kids as well.

We tried garlic ice cream for the first time, walked and admired the vegetable gardens, played in the hay, and I sat through a canning and preserving food workshop. When we left, I bought garlic and fresh basil. How could I go to a garlic festival and not buy any garlic? That would just feel weird. There was even a wooden sign on the way out that read "did you buy garlic yet?" Lol. I plan to cook pasta this week so the garlic and basil will come in handy :)

I think the best thing about the festival was its location around the garden. Tristan has never seen such a big garden so it was very educational for him to see where things like broccoli, kale, green beans, tomatos and cabbage grew. It's a totally different thing when you can see things you usually eat start growing on the ground. I think he was amused. Pretty much everything was being grown there, some things I couldn't even identify. I noticed quite a few Chinese plants, but then again it was Richmond :)



I enjoyed the 30 minute canning presentation. I have done lots of canning of fruits like jams in the past so I was curious. I was just passing by when they were about to start so I decided to sit on the hay and check it out. I was surprised to learn a few things along the way too :) For instance, in the past we always sterilized our canning jars before using them. It turns out that it was an unnecessary step. Once sterilized, the jars are exposed to the environment and cannot remain sterile before you use them. Heating the filled jars in a boiling water bath will sterilize it for you when canning. Next time I will just use clean jars and save myself a step :) Another tip I got was to remove the rings after the jars are sealed. Water is sometimes locked inside the rings so if you wipe them down and then put them back on, you can avoid rust inside of them later. Cool, eh? Canning high acid foods like fruit is fairly straight forward but low acid foods like pasta sauce and meat require pressure cookers to reach extreme high temperatures to kill bacteria. The canning lady recommends taking a full course on how to do this properly since if done incorrectly, it could be fatal when the food is consumed. It may look fine and still be contaminated.

Our presenter was also advocating for drying food. She has an electric dehydrator and totally loves it. Now I want to get one too! She also spoke about fermenting food with live cultures for things like kimchi. You don't need to immerse these in a boiling water bath because when you make the recipe, you are creating active good cultures that are preserving the food for you. I believe my parents do this with a few things that they make at home. I just never knew that was what was happening.

Lots of garlic for sale.

Seedlings and plants for sale.

My son had fun playing in the hay and I acquired some useful information on preserving food. My husband thought the garlic festival was kind of cool too. I think he liked the garden. I would like to take up gardening one day as well. Maybe when we have more property space outside. I'm sure my son would love to help with that since he loves to dig! :) So it appears that my first garlic festival visit was a hit with the family.

Have you ever been to a garlic festival? What did you think of it?




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