By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
Bill Higgins began growing garlic in 1998 on farmland in Northumberland, a community between Schuylerville and Saratoga. He sold the garlic to a food distributor at the Chelsea Market in Manhattan, and over time, began consulting with chefs to create a line of prepared products.
Over the years, his enterprise Saratoga Garlic Co. expanded, supplying grocery stores, restaurants, and wholesalers with sauces and pickled products.
The business kept growing, and then last fall Higgins went small. He applied to become a new vendor with the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, joining the market’s cadre of local farmers, home producers, and artisans.
Now, Higgins spends Saturday mornings at the market’s winter location in the Wilton Mall, offering samples of their garlic products, greeting new customers, and reconnecting with friends.
Their experience is helping them understand better what their customers like. It also captures the community feeling that the Saratoga Farmers’ Market creates.
“We wanted a more direct connection and additional insight to what our end consumer is looking for,” says Max Higgins, who coordinates sales for Saratoga Garlic and is Bill Higgins’s son.
So far, the experience has been great. “Everyone at the market has been very welcoming and we’ve really enjoyed the positive atmosphere each Saturday,” Max Higgins says.
On top of that, they have discovered that old friends from elementary and high school days are market regulars, as well. And, says Max Higgins, “the live music is great.”
Saratoga Garlic Co.’s signature product is aioli, a garlic sauce with a mayonnaise base. The company offers five varieties, along with a pickled garlic product. The sauces can be used to season dishes, as a spread on crackers or bread, or as a condiment to such things as steaks, pork or goat, chops, or fish.
Bill Higgins worked with a number of chefs to perfect his recipes over the years. He and his family still grow their own garlic, which is German white, a porcelain variety known for big bulbs, a robust flavor, and high tolerance to his sandy soil. The family also occasionally grows dill for their pickled products and has discussed the prospect of trying out such items as saffron, which flavors one of their aioli sauces.
This week’s recipe: BLT Burritos with Sambal Aioli