So you just pulled your first bulbs of garlic out of the ground. You can’t believe it worked. You did it! You grew garlic! But now what?
You can use the garlic you grew right away. So if you need it for dinner tonight, go for it! But if you want to store it a little longer, you’ll need to cure it.
Why You Need to Cure Garlic
Garlic is a type of plant called an allium. Alliums are plants that create bulbs, and have any type of onion-y or garlic-y flavor. Other alliums include onions, chives, leeks, scallions, etc.
Alliums create their bulbs (the little cloves are called rhizomes) as a way to reproduce. Those are their “seeds.” So, if you don’t cure them and stop any growth from happening, your bulbs can continue to grow and split, because they want to make more baby garlics!
Since you want to keep your garlic for using in the kitchen (or even for planting for next season), you don’t want the bulb to split and sprout. You want the bulb to stay nice and dry, and papery. Just like you see in the grocery store. The papery outer covering creates a barrier to the outside world, which keeps the clove protected from the elements until it’s ready to be used.
How to Cure Garlic
No matter what type of garlic you grow (hardneck or softneck) the curing process is the same.
Once you harvest your garlic, you’ll want to lay them out on a flat surface for 3-4 weeks. No need to clean them at all. Keep the dirt on for now!
The area you choose to cure your garlic should be dry, have good ventilation, and be out of direct sunlight.
Once you find your resting place for your garlic, leave it for 3-4 weeks, checking on it every so often. You’re looking to see if the stems have died back and shrunk near the bulb. The skin on the bulb itself will be very papery and dry.
Storing Garlic Long Term
Once you’ve cured your garlic, it’s time to store it! The best place to store garlic is somewhere, dark, cool, and dry. A pantry or root cellar works great. Here’s where things get fun though!
If you have softneck garlic, you can braid the stems of the garlic together to make a big garlic braid, and then hang the braid in your storage area. That saves space and looks neat!
If you have hardneck garlic, you will want to trim the stem about an inch from the bulb. Then you can store the bulbs in whatever container you would like, as long as there is good air flow. You can still braid hardneck garlic, but you’ll want to trim the stem about two inches from the bulb, and then tie it to kitchen twine, which you will then use to create the braid.
Once you have your garlic cured and stored away or braided, you can use it at any point to make your dishes delish!
I hope this helped simplify the process of curing garlic, and gave you the information you needed to store some tasty homegrown garlic all year long!
Comment below if you have any questions, and follow me on Instagram @sweetgumspot for daily tips and tricks on living sustainably and growing your own food!