Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Preserving Floyd: Curing Garlic

If you planted garlic last fall then your crop is most likely ready to harvest or will be soon.  Yesterday was perfect weather for harvesting and beginning the curing process.  I gently lifted the garlic loose of the soil with a spading fork, gently shook what dirt off I could and then spread it in a single layer on a tarp to dry.  Then before the sun went down I gathered it up and put it in the garage before any dew could dampen it.

 Preparing the garlic to cure is easy but time consuming.  Wear clothes you don't mind trashing.  Set up a comfortable chair outside in the shade.  Have a beverage close at hand but protected from the inevitable dust and dirt.  Music or an audio book is nice.  You'll need a small brush, rubber bands, scissors, and string.

Get comfy in your chair with the box of garlic on one side of you and a clean empty box on the other side.  Hold the head of garlic in one hand and, with the small brush, gently but firmly brush off the dry dirt still clinging to the garlic head.  Brushing will remove the top layer of paper that dried yesterday revealing a clean head of garlic underneath.
Run your hand down the stem of the plant in the same direction as the leaves grow to dust off any loose leaves or skins.  Trim off the roots.  Place the cleaned garlic with the stem and leaves still attached in the clean box.  Continue with each head until all the garlic is clean.

Next, loosely bunch about 6 heads together.  Bind them with a rubber band just behind the heads.  Then bind them again with a piece of cord a little further up the stems.  Leave tails of cord long enough to make a loop to hang the bunch or tie it to a drying rack.  If you are curing soft neck garlic and intend to braid it do not trim the leaves.  If you don't intend to braid it or you grew hard neck garlic like I did, then trim the leaves off just above the cord.

Hang the garlic to dry in a shady place outside or inside out of direct sunlight with good air circulation.  If you dry it outside bring it in at night or fully cover it so the garlic doesn't get damp from dew.  In a month, more or less, the stems should have dried out and there should be a few layers of dry, papery skins protecting the bulbs.  At this point the garlic can be braided or the rest of the stems trimmed off.  Store the garlic in a cool, dark place with good air circulation.  Properly dried and stored your garlic should see you through until next year's crop if you don't eat it all first.  Remember to set aside the biggest, best looking heads for this year's fall planting!

I use a cheesy, cheapy folding laundry rack from the dollar store to tie the bunches to for drying.  The shallots will go on the lower rungs.  These racks are also handy for drying bunches of herbs and everlastings as well and then fold flat and store out of the way when done.


  1. That's quite a haul! I love the dry rack :) How many will you plant this autumn?

    1. We planted 1 1/2 pounds last fall. The plan is to up it to 2 pounds this fall. This is what we call Floyd County red garlic. I still have elephant garlic in the garden that should be ready in another week.