In addition to my fun gig creating Tomato Envy in my spare time, I have a “day job” that demands a lot of my time and energy. I work for a medical device company on Long Island and I travel there often to work with my marketing colleagues in the office.
Having grown up in the heart of the Midwest, my “accent” and demeanor are a source of entertainment for my New York co-workers. One of them, a sharp-witted city girl, is convinced that I’m secretly Amish. This has nothing to do with religion but it’s basically how she describes people from Pennsylvania who grow their own food and get into canning and other relatively old-school rural pursuits. In the same way that some people refer to eco-minded hippie interests as being varying degrees of “crunchy,” she labels my activities as either “a little Amish” or “totally fucking Amish.”
Curing and storing garlic that’s spent the better part of the last year growing in my garden could be considered totally fucking Amish so Nilda, this one’s for you!
Garlic is ready to harvest in mid-late summer when most of the green tops have died back, turned brown, and fallen over. Once you dig up your garlic, you will want to cure it, or dry it out thoroughly. Proper curing ensures that your garlic is ready to store and it will enable it to last for months in your pantry.
- Once harvested, do not cut off the tops or the roots. You can do this later, once your garlic is fully cured.
- Never wash the dirt from your garlic or get the heads wet. Remember that you’re trying to dry them out. You can gently brush the dirt from the heads once they are fully cured.
- Either gather the garlic into bunches of 8-10 heads, tie the tops together and hang them OR lay your heads out in a single layer in boxes, on shelves or screens. I had some old window screens, so my garlic cured on them in our basement.
- Do not leave your harvested garlic in the sun. Place them in a cool, dry, and dark place to cure for about 6 weeks. The outside of the heads should be papery and the tops should be completely dry.
- After the heads are nice and dry, trim the roots and cut off the tops to about 1 inch. Now is the time to brush away most of the dirt.
- Store your garlic in a cool, dry and dark place such as a kitchen cupboard or a dry basement. Ensure good air circulation by storing in open-weave baskets or breathable mesh bags. Old mesh potato bags from the grocery store work well as do legs from nylon stockings (IMO, one of the only good uses for pantyhose!).
- In general, hardneck varieties don’t keep as long as softneck varieties, so use them up within 6 months. Softneck varieties can keep for up to 1 year with proper storage.