Garlic is a satisfying plant to grow—it's wonderfully flavorful in its fresh form, straight out of the garden, and it can provide some spice for your recipes long after the leaves have fallen off the trees in the fall and winter. (Indeed, there are more 600 cultivated sub-varieties of garlic throughout the world, so you have plenty of cooking options with this versatile bulb that is related to the onion family.)
If you've got a bumper crop of garlic this year, you'll find that garlic also is quite simple to dry for long-term storage throughout the cold months. Curing garlic takes about three to four weeks, but once garlic is dried, it will last for a very long time.
Curing Garlic for Long-Term Storage
To get your garlic ready for drying, you'll need:
- freshly dug garlic
- a soft brush for scrubbing
Preparing the garlic once it's harvested takes just a few minutes. You'll also need to find the right location to place the garlic as it's curing.
The Curing Process
Follow these simple steps to cure your garlic:
- Tie the garlic in bunches and hang it, or spread your harvest out on a rack. Place the entire garlic plant (bulb, roots, and stalk) in a cool, dry place. Regardless of whether you tie your garlic, hang it up, or use a rack, good ventilation is a must.
- Allow the garlic to dry for a few weeks. The larger the cloves, the longer they will take to cure. For example, elephant garlic needs at least four weeks to cure. The outer wrapper will feel papery and shrunken when the garlic is dry, so use this as your clue as to when your garlic is completely cured.
- Once your garlic is dry, trim the roots close to the bulb (leave about a 1/2 inch remaining).
- Use a soft brush to remove any dirt from the bulb. The outer layer of the wrapper can be removed if further cleaning is desired, but try not to remove much more than that or your garlic won't last as long as it should.
- Leave the stalks intact if you plan to braid your garlic. Trim them to within an inch or two of the bulb if you plan to store your garlic loose.
Your garlic is now ready for storage. Keep it in a cool, dry place and it should stay fresh for months.
More Tips on Drying Garlic
You'll likely find that your own cured garlic tastes much better than the garlic powder you purchase in the store (and of course, it's cheaper, too). For best results, follow these tips when drying and using garlic from your garden:
- Save some of your biggest bulbs for planting next year.
- Only undamaged bulbs should be dried for storage. If you nick a bulb while digging it up, you'll need to use it right away.
- Use some of your garlic to make your own garlic powder or garlic salt.