Growing and curing garlic was a first for me this year. I don’t really count the time I tried to grow garlic in the sandy, depleted soil we had in our yard in New Mexico. I think I may have set a world record with those microscopic bulbs.
So Last October I was excited to plant both hard neck and soft neck varieties. There are lots of sites detailing how to grow garlic, when to harvest and how to cure it (here is one example), so I won’t go into it here, but I will say it is really very easy. My plants were affected by a mysterious leaf fungus that neither S nor I could identify after lots of research, but fortunately the bulbs were spared and I hung several dozen on my back porch to cure.
I waited a bit too long before pulling them out of the ground, and some of the bulbs had already lost their outer paper coating and started to separate.
Well cured garlic bulbs should keep through the winter if they are stored properly, but these naked, separated cloves won’t. They are perfectly good for eating, though. Unfortunately about 50% of my harvest was like this, so it wasn’t a matter of just tossing the few bad ones in my next stir fry. I thought at first I might just plop them all in a big jar of olive oil and stick this in my pantry. But then I read that garlic and oil at room temperature is a recipe for botulism. I hated to just throw the rest in the compost, so I’ve been trying to find ways to preserve them. Poor mom got put to work when she came to see the farm for the first time, peeling the last little bit of paper off the cloves. When I’m not at work or unpacking from our recent move, I’ve been peeling, roasting, mashing, chopping and freezing. It turns out there are myriad ways to preserve peeled garlic (check out tips here and here).
My freezer is full of about any type of garlic product you could ever want – whole frozen cloves, frozen sheets of finely chopped garlic, whole roasted cloves, and ice-cube trays of mashed roasted garlic and very garlicy pesto. I’m going to try to dehydrate some next and make my own dried garlic flakes and powder. Now I just need to find a ton of garlicy recipes so I can make use of all this stuff this fall and winter. I’m thinking soups and stews. We’ve already used some of the roasted garlic on a pizza, which took it from average to spectacular.
But it doesn’t look like there is any hope of clearing the smell out of the house any time soon. Good thing T doesn’t mind.