Last year I lost most of my awesome harvest of garlic when the bulbs sprouted, withered and went mouldy. I ran out of home-grown garlic before summer. This year I am exploring how to store garlic better so my precious Ambrosia will last till the next harvest. So read on!
Planting and Harvesting Garlic
Several years ago I started out with an expensive box of seed garlic. Of course my first crop failed miserably. This was due to an untimely bicycle accident and associated inability to look after my garden. However, I managed to salvage a motley collection of garlic bulbs of unknown type for subsequent growing seasons.
This season the selected patch of earth was dug up and conditioned using chook-house straw. I then let the girls loose on the patch for a week or so. My chooky girls were very thorough in rooting out small weeds and mixing the fertilised mulch into the soil.
I duly planted the bulbs, then when the leaves were browning and the stems bending over, I harvested the bulbs. Apparently the bulbs need to be cured after harvest. So, as in the previous year, I strung-up the bulbs at the back of our machinery shed.
Storing the Garlic Harvest
If you search long-enough on the internet you can usually find something helpful. I located an informative publication on a University of California site. There were also some great posts on my Instagram feed. I guess other Tassie gardeners were dealing with their garlic harvests, too.
Based on these sources of information, I decided on dehydrating and freezing methods for storing my garlic.
Storing Garlic by Dehydration
This sticky procedure was a labour of love. I was surprised by how long it took to peel such a small proportion of my garlic bulbs. Fortunately, I was able to keep boredom at bay by watching a movie on Netflix.
Then the drying garlic filled my kitchen with its pungent aroma for about 30 hours. In the end, one very large mixing bowl of peeled fresh bulbs ended up filling a 400 mL storage container.
I have been using the dried garlic over the past two weeks. I am happy with how easily it can be crushed in a mortar. Most importantly, I am happy with the cooked result, too! My verdict? So far, I recommend this as a good method for storing garlic.
I will see how it stands up over the coming months and I will report back with my final verdict.
Storing Garlic by Freezing
Because it was so much easier to prepare the bulbs for freezing, this was the method I seriously hoped would be the answer to my garlic storage problem. However I am having reservations about this method, now.
I added about 10 to 12 separated bulbs into small plastic containers. Then I stored the containers in a deep freezer at about -18 deg C. After two weeks I took one container out to let the bulbs thaw.
Although the fresh and thawed bulbs look similar in the above photo, they were quite different in texture and colour. The fresh bulb was firm and white and it felt crunchy when cut. Whereas the thawed bulb was squishy and yellow and soft when cut. More liquid escaped from the thawed bulb, too.
One positive was that the thawed garlic was much easier to peel! I have cooked one meal with minced thawed garlic and the outcome was OK. But I really need to try it in a few more cooked meals over time. In particular I want to see if the remaining ten thawed bulbs go mouldy before I can use them. I’m guessing it might be better to just thaw out one or two bulbs at-a-time, as needed.
The Verdict on How to Store Garlic?
My verdict is not certain. But I am favouring the dried garlic at this stage. Of course I still have plenty of fresh crunchy flavoursome bulbs and I will use all these up before I resort to using the stored garlic. Therefore I will add a final report and my more considered verdict later in the year!