3 Easy Ways to Preserve Garlic
By Laura Killingbeck
Round the Bend Farm is developing a legacy of garlic. We have good garlic, and lots of it. We treat it like a treasure and cherish it for its flavor and medicinal qualities. Each year, the tasks of planting, weeding, harvesting, curing, processing, and preserving of garlic weave themselves through our lives as the seasons shift.
We grow garlic here on our farm, as well as at Lonnie’s house. Lonnie is a particularly gifted mechanic who lives in a red-trimmed house on a flat lawn near the field with one cow. (Those are the driving directions if you are in the Dartmouth, Massachusetts area and are looking for him.) Each fall, we go to Lonnie’s flat lawn and plant very tidy rows of garlic.
Fall is also the time for preserving and storing lots and lots of food for winter. We make a wide variety of fermented vegetables, vinegars, canned goods, tonic beverages, and dried herb mixes, many of which feature garlic. We also store garlic as whole heads to use throughout the year, as well as process some for easier use in the kitchen.
Garlic is most frequently processed and preserved through some element or combination of acidification, drying, and temperature control – like refrigeration or freezing. Fermentation acidifies garlic with lactic acid and vinegar acidifies it with acetic acid. These preservation methods effectively and consistently prevent the garlic from being inhabited with pathogenic microorganisms.
We have found that transforming garlic–just a little bit–makes it a lot easier to access in the kitchen throughout the year. In the beautiful rush and effort to get three meals on the table each day for a crew of farm folk. Garlic that is already peeled, powdered, or shredded means it is more likely to get incorporated into daily meals.
The following are three of the easiest methods we use to efficiently transform and preserve garlic to make it easier to use in the kitchen.
Hannah Wylie peels garlic at Round the Bend Farm.
1. Powdered Garlic
Shred the garlic with the grating implement of a food processor. Spread in a thin layer on drying trays, and dry on low heat in a dehydrator or drying rack. This may take 12-24 hours. The garlic is ready when it makes a snapping sound when you break a piece of it between your fingers. If it is sticky or bendy, it is not ready. When it is fully dry, pulverize it in a food processor or blender. Sift this powder through a flour sifter to get the finest powder. Store in a glass jar.
2. Lacto Fermented Garlic Cloves
Garlic cloves, peeled.
Salt brine (3 tbs salt per 1 quart water, dissolved)
Fill a jar with garlic cloves and pour the salt brine over top. Submerge them beneath the surface of the brine with a vegetable plug, rock, or hardwood slab. Cap the jar and let ferment at room temperature for one month, releasing pressure from the jar daily for the first week by unscrewing and re-screwing the cap. After a month, refrigerate or move to cold storage.
Remove garlic heads to use as needed, and save the brine for soups, salad dressings, or baking.
3. Minced Garlic in Vinegar
Apple cider or other vinegar
Shred the garlic with the grating implement of a food processor. Put in a jar and cover completely with vinegar. Store in the fridge.
Planting Garlic at Lonnie’s.
Garlic Safety and Other Uses
Food preservation means keeping food desirable and safe to eat over time. One way we never store garlic is through submersion in oil—this is not a true preservation method because it does not reliably keep the garlic safe to eat over time. Un-acidified garlic that is stored at room temperature in oil runs a risk of developing Clostridium botulinum, which produces the toxin botulism. There is no reason to be afraid of processing and preserving garlic. Just use a reliable method of acidification, temperature control, and/or drying, as outlined above.
Other value added products we make with garlic include Fire Cider, Kimchi, Garlic Chili Paste, Lacto Fermented Dill Pickles, Pesto, Salad Dressing, Dilly Beans, and acidified canned goods like tomato sauce.