After garlic is harvested it needs to be cured. In curing the energy from the leaves goes into the bulbs as they dry. Remove any chunks of dirt from the roots, being careful not to bruise the garlic. Leave the roots on as they have a moderating effect on
the drying rate.
If you have a small amount you can spread the plants out where they are protected from the sun and rain and there is good air circulation.
We hang the plants - about 25 to 40 to a string in bunches of 3 to 6. The appropriate
number of plants in a string depends on their size and moisture level
at harvest. You want the circulating air to be able to reach all sides
of all bulbs. Hang the strings out of direct light where it is warm with good air
circulation - a temperature of 27°C (80°F) is ideal
and two weeks drying time is ideal. This way the bulbs dry
evenly and without spoilage. You want the wrappers to dry and the garlic
to retain its moisture and oils.
We hang our garlic in an open shed in a breezy location. If you do not have enough air movement use fans.
Tip for Commercial Growers
We put the trimmed bulbs in well labelled horticulture boxes, black plastic boxes with lots of ventilation. If there is still moisture in the wrappers we direct fans at the boxes to complete the curing. In areas of high humidity it may be necessary to use a dehumidifier to get enough moisture out of the wrappers for trouble free storage.
Very large bulbs are more difficult to dry down than smaller ones and sometimes we remove the wrappers at the top of the bulb to allow the moisture between the cloves to escape. These bulbs should then be used for fall planting or short term storage.
on this web page and the Growing Garlic web page has been summarized on three printer friendly pages.
When the wrappers are dry, prepare your supply of garlic for long term
storage, selling or for planting.
We recommend that you select your own seed first. Select good sized, fully mature bulbs with nice plump healthy cloves
and set these aside for planting. If you are planting in the fall you do not need to do as much cleaning as you do for selling or long term storage.
Cleaning consists of trimming the leaves and roots and removing the dirty outer wrappers.
If the roots are crispy dry the roots and dirt will come off with a couple of rubs with a glove, leaving a short brush of roots. If the roots have picked up humidity you will need to trim them with snips, leaving 1 or 2 cm (1/2 to 1 inch). For many markets it is acceptable for the roots to be a little dirty - a quick brush with a glove on the trimmed roots is enough..
Trim the tops, being careful not to cut the skins
protecting the individual cloves. Leave enough stem on hardnecks to make cracking easy.
The papery wrapping protects the garlic
and keeps it fresh. Remove just the dirtiest outer layers of wrappers.
Place the clean bulbs in clean mesh bags
or horticulture boxes, well labelled.
- Don't Store Damaged Bulbs
Damaged cloves spoil easily. Put aside any bulbs with soft cloves
for immediate use. The good cloves from these bulbs are excellent
for garlic pickles or dried garlic.
Under good home storage conditions a solid, well-cured, well-wrapped
garlic bulb will keep 6 to 8 months or longer. The actual keeping time
is affected by variety and other factors. Store garlic at a cool, stable
room temperature. A temperature of 15 - 18°C (60 - 65°F) with
moderate humidity and some air circulation works well.
You can also store garlic at cooler temperatures with moderate humidity. When cold stored garlic is brought to warmer temperatures it will very soon start sprouting.
We hang our garlic
in mesh bags or keep it in horticulture boxes. We store our bulbils in paper bags.
Supermarket garlic has usually been kept cold in controlled
storage. If garlic has been kept cold it soon begins to sprout when
brought to room temperature.
Another method of storing garlic is to dehydrate it. This works well for
damaged cloves or bulbs. We have a entire page devoted to how to dry garlic.