SLOWLY DOES IT: Owen Stewart has started value-adding his garlic crop by slow roasting it for 40 days to make Korean inspired Black Garlic.
SLOWLY DOES IT: Owen Stewart has started value-adding his garlic crop by slow roasting it for 40 days to make Korean inspired Black Garlic. Michael Nolan

How a slow roast boosts margins on a garlic crop

OWEN Stewart roasts his garlic for 40 days in a bid to add value to, his produce and it's proving to be popular in the foodie scene.

The Brooklands farmer started growing a patch of garlic for himself and he would give the excess away.

"We only grow about a quarter of an acre and were focused more on quality, not quantity,” Mr Stewart.

"It's more just about growing good garlic and the main thing with growing anything is to just get the soil right.”

Mr Stewart sells mostly through the market circuit.

You can find him at his regular stall at the Nanango Markets and at markets in northern Brisbane and at the Sunshine Coast.

"It started as a hobby that got out of control, I started growing for myself and I grew a bit more than I needed so I gave it away, then it was a bit more and a bit more,” Mr Stewart said.

"One thing lead to another and the next thing I've got three tonnes of it.

"That near killed me so I've dropped it back and grow about a tonne and half per year.

"I keep about a third of that for seed for the next year.”

While common down south it's rare to find Queensland-grown garlic.

Mr Stewart puts this down to the hot climate in most of the state as garlic likes to stay cool.

"The South Burnett gets those frost in winters, it likes the frost which give garlic a softness and sweetness,” Mr Stewart said.

One advantage northern growers have over their southern counterparts is Queensland's consistent day/night cycle.

"Garlic likes to be daylight neutral, it needs just as much day time as you have night,” Mr Stewart said.

"The further south you go it becomes daylight negative.”

The severity of this sensitivity depends on the variety, which limits growing options.

It's taken Mr Stewart years to build a crop profile that is climatised to Brooklands and now that his happy with the product he's starting to branch out.

"It's taken a fair while to get this crop to somewhere where it's a consistent

size.”

Part of this expansion involves some value adding.

Mr Stewart takes his garlic and slow roasts it for 40 days in an incubator oven.

This caramelises the garlic and turns it black in a method that was developed in Korea as a way to preserve the vegetable.

The flavour can best be described as a mix of molasses, balsamic vinegar and truffles.

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