Through the month of August, garlic occupies a large portion of my brain. And most of what I am thinking about is how to get the best garlic we can – garlic that looks beautiful, tastes great, and stores as long as possible.
The key step in making this happen is effectively curing garlic plants before trimming the roots or stems.
What is Curing?
Many vegetables need a curing period to prepare for storage. This lets them heal cuts or wounds to their skins and stems, and undergo physiological changes.
- Potatoes need 2-3 weeks at 15-20C to heal cuts and bruises.
- Sweet potatoes need 1 week at 30C
- Squashes from the maxima and moschata species need 2-3 weeks at 20C or so.
For garlic, 2-6 weeks at 25-30C has produced great results on our farm. This seals the juicy garlic goodness in the bulb and keeps any pathogens out.
Harvested garlic is brought into a hayloft. This room is warmer than outside and therefore drier. It is also well ventilated, which keeps leaves from rotting while the garlic cures.
We hang bunches of whole garlic plants and do not clean or trim them until they’ve cured. (You can read about last year’s garlic harvest for more details up to this point.)
One Week After Harvest
After one week of curing, the garlic stems are still green. The bulb necks have not yet been sealed.
At this point the garlic tastes great but if you cut the stems off now your garlic might not store more than a few months.
A Few Weeks After Harvest
The stems have completely dried. At this point we trim the roots off the plants, grade our garlic and then begin cleaning. Depending on the size, we cut the stems off some bulbs and leave the stems on those intended for braiding.
Once your garlic has cured, store bulbs in a dry place with constant temperature.
Storage life also depends on the garlic type:
- Rocambole and Artichoke garlic store till February-April
- Porcelains from April-June and even till the end of July
- Silverskins over a year !
- Purple stripes and marbled purple stripes are new to our farm but I think some of them might store as long as porcelains.
(In July, I wrote about garlic that had stored for almost a year and still tasted great.)
At this point we’ve processed about 80% of our garlic harvest. I’m slowly shifting my brain over to all the seed crops we’ve been harvesting and still have to harvest, and how to get them cleaned.