When we think of Thanksgiving and Christmas, many dishes come to mind: turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, and so many more. One common ingredient in most of these dishes – garlic. There is nothing like the smell of fresh garlic coming out of the oven or sizzling in a pan. One of the most popular ways to enjoy garlic at home, whether it be growing in your garden or dried and stored in your pantry, is dehydrating.
It was once believed that garlic had mystic and protective powers. Garlic has been used as an antiseptic, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant for centuries. Garlic is an onion family member and grows underground, similar to onions. Due to this, garlic’s harvesting and storing procedures are pretty identical to that of onions.
Garlic is a delicious vegetable that elevates every dish it is a part of. If you are a new home gardener and are thinking about growing your own garlic this year, a few tips will come in handy.
Before moving to the drying stage, you first need to know when to harvest your garlic. Because there are so many different varieties of garlic, there are different maturity dates, all within a few weeks of one another. One of the tell-tale signs that the garlic is ready for harvesting is when the lower leaves of the garlic plant have dried off. If you have planted soft neck varieties of garlic, they will dry faster than the hard neck variety. You can also cut into one of the garlic bulbs to see how well the garlic cloves are developing into individual cloves with their own wrapper to estimate their maturity.
Curing is the process of drying your freshly harvested garlic to prepare it for long-term storage. Well-cured garlic will easily last you through the winter, if not spring. And it is quite simple. Here’s how to do it.
To test whether the garlic has dried, check its wrapper, roots, and leaves. Cured garlic will have crispy and brittle leaves that turn to dust when rubbed between fingers. The neck of the cured garlic will also have constricted and dried off noticeably.
Any place inside your home at room temperature and away from direct sunlight is an excellent way to store your garlic. Store the garlic far from any dampness and in containers that allow airflow. A mesh bag or loosely woven baskets are ideal for storage. Humidity plays a vital role in preserving garlic. Like onions, the relative humidity needs to be lower as high moisture promotes mold and sprouting. On the other hand, too low humidity will cause the garlic to dry out. Your garlic will last you well through winter if you maintain that balance.
Another method of drying garlic to improve its shelf life is to dry the individual garlic cloves. You can choose to dry whole garlic cloves, chopped garlic, and even make your own garlic powder.
The first thing required for drying is, of course, garlic. Depending on which form you want to dry your garlic, prepare the garlic. The most cumbersome job when deciding to dry garlic cloves is peeling them. So we have a perfect post that will make this job super simple. If you are drying chopped garlic cloves, take care to chop them into pieces of equal thickness so that they can all dry evenly. If you want to make dried garlic powder, prep your garlic cloves by chopping them, and you can grind them in a mixer pot post drying.
You can dry your garlic cloves in a food dehydrator or an oven. An oven works just fine if you don’t have a dehydrator on hand. It is quick and simple. However, you need to be extra careful not to scorch the garlic. If you want to invest in a food dehydrator, the Excalibur Dehydrator is really popular with avid food dehydrators.
Store the dehydrated garlic in glass containers. Dehydrated food needs to be bone-dry to preserve it for long periods. And storing them in glass containers makes it easy to identify any condensation being formed on the inside of the container.
In a Food Dehydrator
In an Oven
The oven method is much quicker than a food dehydrator and comes in handy if you don’t have a dehydrator. However, take care that because even the lowest temperature setting on an oven is much higher than we want to dry the garlic ideally, you will have to be extra vigilant when drying the garlic in an oven.
When the dried garlic has all cooled completely, can now condition it. If you want to make dried garlic powder, this is the time to add the dehydrated garlic to a mixer pot and grind it until you get a fine powder. Grinding the garlic in the mixer may increase the temperature slightly, so be sure to let the powder cool down completely before transferring it to a jar for storage. If needed, you can also use a sieve to sift the garlic powder to remove any large pieces that may have been left behind when grinding.
Properly dried and stored garlic will easily last for two to three years without a problem in your pantry. Always check on your dried products in the pantry periodically to make sure there isn’t any mold growth. In case of any spoilage, discard the affected jars immediately.
So there you have it! A comprehensive guide covering everything from harvesting and curing your own garlic to drying your garlic cloves for an even longer shelf life. Garlic is a wonderful ingredient with so many health benefits that we should all make it a point to include it in our diet a little bit more. The next time you have a surplus of garlic you want to preserve or have a batch of garlic you have grown in your own garden, be sure to visit us here! If you liked this drying guide, you might also enjoy some of our other drying guides, which you can find here.
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