Learn how to make Vietnamese pork tenderloin with green garlic syrup

Glenna Wright of Flyinghorse Farm finds she has two kinds of customers: those who purchase from the farmer on a whim and those who plan their week’s menus by a farm’s harvest schedule.

For many of the folks who will wander by the farm’s booth at the seasonal Green Market at Piedmont Park, which opened March 18 for the 2017 season, going to the market is an adventure. They make their purchases from the many vendors, often on a whim.

The farm also has regular customers who live nearby and receive the farm’s weekly newsletter. Those customers plan their menus by what the farm has to offer.

Wright and her husband Doug farm 7 acres in Newborn, 50 miles east of Atlanta in Newton County. They grow blueberries, Hawaiian ginger and turmeric, mushrooms and vegetables.

“We grow our crops in a sustainable manner, using organic methods. This includes how we steward our land and water, choose our seed and physically do the labor ourselves. We start our own plants using organic seed and grow heirloom varieties whenever possible. We believe in preserving the past for our collective future.”

One of their crops is garlic. They’ve been growing soft neck garlic for a few seasons now. This isn’t the variety that grows the green garlic scapes you see at market in the spring. That’s hard neck garlic. The Wrights say soft neck garlic does better in our climate.

They planted garlic cloves in November. Each clove will grow a new plant and ultimately make a new garlic bulb. Planted an inch and a half deep, the cloves quickly begin sprouting. The Wrights harvest some of the young plants as green garlic, consumed from root to leaf tip, and leave some to grow on and form bulbs. Those bulbs, weather depending, should be ready in early June. The farmers know they’re ready when the tops begin to die back.

“Green garlic is mild, delicious and very popular with our customers. It is more mellow than a clove of garlic and can be eaten raw or cooked. It is always in demand. Green garlic is a gourmet delicacy and a happy sign that spring is on the way!”

They grow two varieties: Lorz, an Italian heirloom, and Silver Rose. “It’s a nice small plant, so we can squeeze it in anywhere. We put in maybe a thousand plants this year, some from bulbs we bought and some from bulbs we saved from last year.”

The Wrights began harvesting green garlic in early February, offering it to their weekly newsletter customers. “We sell directly to our local customers in the Newton/Morgan county area via a newsletter. We send out the newsletter on Sundays and our customers reply, ordering what they want and how much they want. We have two drop off points, one at the Covington Public Library and one in Madison. Or if anyone lives between the farm and Madison or Covington, we’ll deliver their order as we’re traveling to our drop off points.”

They’re starting their third year at the Green Market at Piedmont Park and also sell to Sevananda Natural Foods and food co-ops in Athens and Greensboro, North Carolina.

Wright helps her customers who might not be as familiar with what to do with her vegetables by putting together mixes of vegetables that “go” together.

“I put together things I like to cook with, but that not everyone will know about like certain herbs,” Wright said. “I put it all in a mix that they can take home, add a little extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and put it into a 375 degree oven for 35 to 45 minutes. It gives folks an idea of what goes together. Sometimes we make a little mix of basil and local pecans with our garlic, then the cook can add some extra virgin olive oil and Parmesan and they have pesto. For our younger customers and those professionals who don’t have a lot of time to cook, this works really well.”

As for the green garlic, they prefer it cooked. “We love garlic and we eat a lot of garlic. It’s super healthy for you.”

Vietnamese Pork Tenderloin with Green Garlic Syrup

Joey Ward of Gunshow created this recipe to highlight the bright spring flavor of green garlic. Buy a bunch of green garlic from your favorite farmer then dice one stalk for the marinade and use the rest to make the Green Garlic Syrup. Garnish your tenderloin with a traditional Thai accompaniment of crispy shallots if you wish. They’re available at Asian groceries or you can make your own.

Drinking vinegars are popular in Asia where fruit- and honey-infused vinegars are sold for medicinal reasons and just because they taste good. You’ll find drinking vinegars in many Asian groceries. The Buford Highway Farmers Market carries drinking vinegars from Taiwan. Ward suggests you could substitute apple cider vinegar in this recipe if you prefer.

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