Preserving The Harvest: Garlic

by Texas Homesteader 

We eat a lot of garlic. It lends a vibrant flavor to even the simplest savory dishes. And the health benefits of garlic are well documented. So I make sure to plant plenty in my garden each year.

But how do you preserve a full harvest of garlic? I want to make sure that not a single clove of my homegrown garlic goes bad.

We grow lots of garlic, and we make sure to preserve it so it's not wasted. See what methods are successful for us. #TexasHomesteader

Garlic In The Home Garden

We usually grow an entire bed of garlic in our garden. I understand garlic plants repel aphids and beetles in the garden too.

And they make great companion plants for tomatoes and peppers as well. So I usually plant a few close by those crops too if possible.

Growing Garlic

My garlic was planted in the fall of last year. I’d saved full cloves from the largest heads harvested and replanted those. My garlic gets to improve every year this way. I’ll mulch the bed heavily with fallen leaves as the garlic goes through the winter months.

Then in the spring all of that garlic sends green shoots up from the soil. I typically mulch it again to keep the soil soft and lightly moist. This helps the garlic cloves grow larger.

Garlic scapes usually make their appearance around the first of May. Those are a actually just the garlic’s blooms. But I’ll cut them off quickly to make sure the garlic’s energy goes into making large, plump heads instead of spending that energy on flowering.

We grow lots of garlic, and we make sure to preserve it so it's not wasted. See what methods are successful for us. #TexasHomesteader

The good news is that those garlic scapes are tasty! It’s usually our first taste of garlic for the year before I even get to harvest garlic from the garden. Scapes a little milder garlic flavored than the actual cloves. I’ll typically chop it them up and stir them into savory dishes as I’m cooking.

Harvesting Garlic

Then around June, the bottom section of leaves start to yellow. That’s my cue that it’s harvest time!

We grow lots of garlic, and we make sure to preserve it so it's not wasted. See what methods of preserving garlic are successful for us. #TexasHomesteader

You can’t just grab the greenery & pull though. If you try to do that, you’ll probably end up with a handful of green leaves with the bulb still beneath the ground. Garlic needs to be dug from the soil. Don’t worry, it’s easy!

I’ll take my gardening fork and plunge it about 6″ away from my garlic and about 10″ below ground. Then I’ll bring the handle downward to push the garlic up from beneath the soil.

Finally I’ll pull the garlic, greenery and all, from the ground. I’ll shake the excess dirt from the garlic roots and set it aside as I go down the garlic row harvesting each plant.

Preserving Garlic

After the garlic is harvested I’ll bring it all to the house. I snip the roots off right close to the bulb. Then I strip off the bottom leaves to both clean off any clinging dirt as well as to uncover some of the outer layers of the garlic head. This will allow quicker drying. 

We grow lots of garlic, and we make sure to preserve it so it's not wasted. See what methods of preserving garlic are successful for us. #TexasHomesteader

But garlic needs a chance to cure in a cool shaded place where there’s plenty of airflow. So I spread those cleaned garlic plants out on our covered back porch. They’ll get plenty of air circulation there are they continue to cure. I typically cure them for a month or more.

Storing Cured Garlic

Then when the garlic has been cured I bring it into the house for use. To store them I use a cotton string from a cattle feed bag and tie the garlic in layers. I hang the whole thing on this vintage hanger in my pantry.

The arm folds out for hanging and folds back flush to the wall when not in use. I loved it so much that I bought two of them at the antique store and now have them hanging on either side of my pantry. (Don’t you just LOVE ’em??)

We grow lots of garlic, and we make sure to preserve it so it's not wasted. See what methods of preserving garlic are successful for us. #TexasHomesteader

When I need garlic in my cooking I’ll come snip off a head of garlic from this hanger in my pantry. But even through I’m using garlic pretty consistently I can never use it all fresh. Plus I’d like to have some to use in the winter months as well. 

So I preserve the excess garlic by peeling the cloves, as if ready to use. Then I place all these peeled cloves into a repurposed spice container that I keep in the door of my freezer. 

The cloves don’t stick together even after they’re frozen. So when I want to use a clove of garlic I simply bring out my container, pull out a single clove and mince with a knife. I’ve discovered that garlic doesn’t freeze rock hard so it’s easy enough to do. Sometimes I’ll allow it to thaw so I can easily run it through my garlic press instead.

We grow lots of garlic, and we make sure to preserve it so it's not wasted. See what methods of preserving garlic are successful for us. #TexasHomesteader

We’ve noticed no difference in taste when using frozen garlic cloves. And since garlic is typically cooked in some way, obviously there would be no difference in texture either. 

By preserving garlic this way I’ve repurposed a container and also side-stepped buying a product at the store that I can easily grow & preserve myself. Y’all know that’s all important to me from an environmental, health & financial standpoint too. You don’t eat more locally than out of your own garden!

Have you ever tried preserving garlic from the garden? What worked best for you?

~TxH~

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23 thoughts on “Preserving The Harvest: Garlic

  1. Lisa M

    I never thought of freezing whole cloves. Great idea!

    Thanks for linking up with Green Thumb Thursday. I hope to see you back this week!

    Lisa

    Reply
  2. Kim~madeinaday

    Great tips on saving a ton of garlic, I always get minced, I just may buy it fresh now! Thank you so much for linking up to Merry Monday this week! I am sharing your post tomorrow on my Twitter. We hope to see you next week for another great party! Have a great week!
    Best,
    Kim

    Reply
  3. Sue Mosier

    I grow hard neck garlic. I store all the garlic I grow in my basement. My basement is climate controlled most of the year. In the winter we heat our house with wood and our basement is not heated. It can get down to about 50 degrees down there. My garlic stays nice and tight all year until I am ready to harvest the previous year.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Veggie Garden Update: June

  5. Heather may

    I absolutely LOVE garlic. In and on everything! I wanted to plant it this year but didn’t get to. Next year…its’ game on and hopefully I will have enough! I love it so much that–when company is coming over–instead of using air freshener or candles…I simply toss a bulb of garlic in the oven for a few minutes. Smells so inviting and then is ready to use on bread!! Thanks for sharing at the Friday Follow Along–and for making me hungry!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Heather, we eat lots of garlic as well but in the past other than hanging the cloves to dry them I didn’t have another method of preserving. Peeling and freezing the cloves has been HUGE for me having more garlic at my disposal. Next I’d love to dehydrate and grind the cloves for my own garlic powder.

      Reply
  6. Sandra

    I wanted to let you know that you were one of my featured post on the HomeAcre Hop this week!
    http://www.mittenstatesheepandwool.com/2013/08/the-homeacre-hop.html

    Reply
  7. Cathy

    Thanks so much for sharing at A Peek Into My Paradise TGIF Link Party! I can’t wait to see what you link up next week! I hope to see you at the (Not SO) Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop! http://apeekintomyparadise.blogspot.com/
    Have a terrific week!
    Hugs, Cathy

    Reply
  8. Chris W

    I mince my garlic in a food processor and then add to a small jar. Add a thin layer of olive oil; screw on the lid and refrigerate. A 1/2 tsp. equals 1 garlic clove. So convenient when you need some minced garlic for a recipe. Top off with more oil as needed.

    Reply
  9. farmer Liz

    freezing is a good idea, I did’t know you could do that. I haven’t managed to grow much garlic myself, but we bought some when it was cheap last season and chopped half of it into pieces, dehydrated it, and made garlic granules. We’ve run out of the half that we left fresh and using the granules now, its actually quite convenient, although I have to remind husband to only use a little, as its very strong! I wrote about this on my blog if you want the details.

    Reply
  10. Rita Caldwell

    I just harvested all of mine and cleaned it up, laid it on a flat board in our woodhouse until it dried and now have it in a basket in the kitchen. I would love to know if you dehydrated it whole and then stored or just dried it like I did and then freeze it. There’s nothing like the smell of onions and garlic in anything you cook.
    Rita

    Reply
  11. Candy C.

    I buy my garlic at the Farmer’s Market and never seem to be able to use it all before it dries out. I will certainly try your tip of freezing it next time!! Thanks! 🙂

    Reply
  12. Sally

    My hard necked garlic was fine well in to January when I used the last of it. My soft necked garlic was braided and hung in the kitchen until April when I sliced and dehydrated the remaining cloves. I store the dehydrated garlic in a sealed jar to grind into powder as needed. This dehydrated state will last years.

    Reply

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