Preserving Garlic for Year-Round Use
It’s March, and my garlic stash is diminishing and drying out. But that’s OK, I’m covered. I plan for this. I preserve garlic in a few different ways to ensure a year-round supply of farm garlic.
Over the years, I’ve come to know that some of those beautiful cured bulbs will stay firm, but most will be dried out by February. This makes sense. Word is that I should expect garlic to keep until New Year’s Day. Maybe ideal storage conditions, dry and cool and dark with good airflow, might extend this New Year’s prediction. But for years, I would be without farm garlic from February until May, when the first garlic scapes can be snapped off the plants. Now, I prepare for these gap months. I freeze chopped garlic and dehydrate garlic into powder so I can cook with farm garlic year-round.
Here are four ways to keep garlic so you, too, can cook with fresh garlic year-round.
Peel and slice the garlic. I use a food processor and slice them like almond slices. Dehydrate the slices in a dehydrator or an oven on the lowest setting. This will take all day or longer. When you can snap a slice (and it doesn’t bend), then it’s ready. Cool the slices, and then powder them. I use my Vitamix to powder garlic. A coffee grinder dedicated to spices would also work. Whatever gadget you use, clean it promptly and thoroughly so your next smoothie doesn’t taste like garlic. This garlic powder is so premium! Especially if you grow the more potent hard-necked garlic, as we do at House in the Woods Farm. Sometimes, I give small jars of garlic powder as gifts. Read my blog about garlic powder and the gardening setback that led to learning how to make it.
Chopped Garlic in Olive Oil
Peel the cloves. Chop them in the food processor to your preferred coarseness. Pack them into small jars, and fill the jars with olive oil. Leave 1 inch of airspace. Label and freeze the jars. I use canning jelly jars or reuse small jars from olives or jam. You can defrost them and keep them in the refrigerator, but garlic in olive oil is perishable, so use small enough jars that you can use up your garlic in a few weeks. Sauté and cook with the chopped garlic and the flavored olive oil.
This is convenient. When you make a freezer roll of garlic, you don’t have to worry about it being perishable, because the roll stays in the freezer. Cut a thin slice off the roll and cook with it. Pop the garlic roll back in the freezer. I keep it in the freezer door so it’s easy to find. To make your garlic roll, peel and chop garlic, and add a little olive oil to the food processor, just enough to hold it together. Spoon it onto the edge of parchment paper and roll it tight. Maybe hold it together with a couple of rubber bands. Slip the roll into a zip-close bag or a small container to protect it from freezer burn. Storeit in the door of the freezer so that it’s ready when you need it.
Ice Cube Trays of Garlic
Chop garlic with a little or a lot of olive oil (a similar process to the garlic rolls) and then load up ice cube trays that are dedicated to spicy things, such as garlic and pesto. Maybe fill them halfway, whatever you feel is one sauté serving size. When they’re frozen, you can pop them out to store in a zip-close bag. Use a whole cube in your next sauté.
Read my blog on eating garlic as medicinal food for immune-boosting.
Ilene White Freedman operates House in the Woods Farm organic CSA farm with her husband, Phil, in Frederick, Maryland. The Freedmans are 2013 MOTHER EARTH NEWS Homesteaders of the Year. Ilene blogs about making things from scratch, putting up the harvest, gardening and farm life on the farm’s Facebook Page. For more about House in the Woods Farm, go to the House in the Woods website, and read all of Ilene’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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