Garlic isn’t difficult to grow if you give it fertile, well-drained soil and enough water. It does take time, however, with even the shortest maturity dates running four or five months. Once you have your garlic, you start thinking about ways to preserve and use it. Of course, you can simply keep it in a warm, dry, dark room, but you can also branch out with other methods.
There are hundreds of garlic varieties. Softneck garlics offer longer storage, but hardneck varieties often have more complex flavors. Try these:
- Asiatics (hardnecks): Asian Tempest, Korean Red.
- Turban (hardnecks): Shandong, Tzan.
- Creole (hardnecks): Creole Red, Ajo Rojo.
- Rocamble (hardnecks): Amish, Spanish Roja.
- Porcelain (hardnecks): Music, Georgian Crystal.
- Purple Stripe (hardnecks): Chesnok Red, Belarus.
- Artichoke (softnecks): Inchelium Red, Taltian Late.
- Silverskin (softnecks): Nootka Rose, Rose du Var.
Garlic takes well to freezing. The peeled cloves can be frozen whole, sliced or chopped. Spread in a thin layer on a tray and freeze, then pack into plastic bags for storage. You can also mix the chopped cloves with oil and freeze in ice cube trays. When you need some garlic, just pop a cube out of the tray and you’re ready to go.
The majority of all commercial garlic produced in the world is dried. You can dry your own. Follow instructions on a commercial dehydrator or use your oven. Slice garlic thinly and spread on a baking sheet. Dry at 115°F (46°C) until the garlic is just straw colored and snaps when bent. Don’t let it brown or it will be bitter. Store in sealed containers.
Pickled garlic is easy to make. The vinegar in the recipe changes the acidity. Submerge peeled cloves in full strength wine or vinegar of any kind. You can add dried spices such as hot chiles, cumin seeds, bay leaves or peppercorns. Both the liquid and the garlic can be used in various dishes. Store in the refrigerator up to four months.
You’ll find recipes for canning garlic from many sources. Unfortunately, food preservation experts don’t recommend this method. First, garlic is a low-acid vegetable. That means there is a higher risk of botulism with canned garlic. Second, canned garlic loses most of its flavor and the texture also suffers. Finally, there are no scientifically tested and recommended canning times.