Curing Garlic For Best Storage

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.

Curing Garlic

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.

Garlic Storage

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.)

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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.

Happy September!

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8 responses to “Curing Garlic For Best Storage

  1. Thanks for the information. I hope that my garlic lasts as long as possible, considering the rate of consumption…

  2. Excellent information, thank you.
    We won’t be harvesting garlic or anything that requires storage until around February, but I will refer back to this then. it gives me time to get a space ready.

  3. At the end of August here, our nights are down below 10 degrees although our days are still hot. I’m not sure where I should cure my alliums. Will it take longer for the garlic to cure if exposed to some cold, or is it just a bad idea to cure in fluctuating temperatures?

    • I’m not sure how fluctuating temperatures will affect curing time but you probably get best results curing garlic at a constant temperature.

      If you bring your garlic into a garage or shed, it’s probably already more constant than if it’s outside. Some people put there garlic in a room with a small heater and a couple fans to keep the temperature constant.

      If you have to cure garlic in varying temperatures, especially damp varying temperatures, keep an eye on the foliage to see whether it’s rotting or drying. The mold from rotting foliage seems to travel down the stem into the bulb.

      If your bulbs haven’t cured after 2 weeks, and temperatures are fluctuating, and you’re seeing a lot of rotting foliage; you might want to trim the roots off your garlic and cut the stems down to 8″, then continue to let them cure. This isn’t ideal but it should do the job.

      Keep me posted on what you do and how it works out.

      Dan

  4. Thanks, Dan! I have a distinct lack of infrastructure in my urban rental home, but a heater and fan I can do. I appreciate the tip about the mold.

  5. Dan,
    We are primarily growing a variety called Tasmanian Purple, seen here http://www.thelostseed.com.au/USERIMAGES/procart95.htm
    We also have a couple of kilos of a large version of the Chinese white garlic that is readily available in the supermarkets here. Italian Purple and of course the Russian Garlic are quite common here as well, we may do some of the Russian but I find the Italian Purple a bit small for my liking.

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