A bumper crop of garlic can be stored a few different ways. Braiding garlic can be both pretty and functional. This method can also be used for onions. This method of braiding works best with soft neck varieties of garlic vs. hard neck varieties. If you properly harvest, dry, cure and store your garlic, they have the potential to last up to 6 months.
This year we harvested lots of garlic out of our raised beds. It's always a treat to harvest something that was planted way back in the fall. Growing up my aunt always braided garlic in the fall and I just love something fresh that we can bring into the house, enjoy it's beauty, use up and not have to store away.
Braiding garlic means you'll get to enjoy your beautiful kitchen garlic all winter long.
I love incorporating some of my dried cut flowers into the mix of my garlic braids. Not only does this allow me to use up some of my shorter stems from the garden, but it adds a delicate hint of what summer was like, right here in our kitchen.
Cured Softneck Garlic- stems intact
After I harvest my garlic, I place them on my drying rack under our shady front porch for a few days. Curing works best in a cool dark area, like a shed, garage or basement. Just be sure to keep them out of direct sunlight as this can change the way the garlic tastes.
Insider Tip: Remove the clumps of dirt, but be careful not to remove or disturb the papery outside as this may reduce the amount of time that the garlic can be stored for. If there is a damaged bulb, I just make sure to either keep it for seed or use it up right away.
Just before I add one garlic bulb to the braid, I brush the dirt off and trim their roots a bit.
I start with three garlic bulbs at the top with the stems closest to me. Tie a piece of twine tightly around the three bulbs. This twine can also be used to form a loop for hanging your garlic braid up when you're finished.
Add a fourth bulb in the middle- placing the stems over top of the center stem and begin to braid. Take the outside stem and braid toward the middle, replacing the middle.
Continue braiding as you would, say Rapunzel's hair. Because the garlic has been cured a bit, the stems may be thick and require a bit of muscle to manipulate them. It is also a good idea to not over cure them, because you don't want them to be so brittle and dry that the stems crack and break as you braid.
Continue this method of adding garlic bulbs, always placing the new stems in the center, then taking the stems from the outside of the braid and bringing them toward the middle, making them the new center stems.
Once you become proficient in braiding the garlic, you can add in some dried stems of flowers. My favorite flowers to use for braiding garlic are status, strawflower and nigella.
I had just brought in a bunch of fresh status from the garden that broke off at the wrong length, making them the perfect fit for this garlic braid.
Add a stem of flowers on top of the new center garlic bulb and continue to braid in. You can add as many flowers as you like. Sometimes I wanted to space the flowers out a bit and sometimes I added many. You decide how you want your garlic braid to look.
After I add about eleven bulbs of garlic, I finished off the braid securing the bottom with another piece of twine. I chose to keep the flower heads of the garlic intact, but later on the seeds made a bit of a mess, so I decided to remove them before bringing them into the house.
This year I bent the stems back behind the bulbs and secured my twine toward the center of the braid. Feel free to play around with how you like to display your garlic braid. There is really no right or wrong way.
I loved taking these to our farmers market this fall. I did have to do some explaining to folks who've never seen them before, but then they really took off. Garlic braids also make lovely house warming, hostess, holiday or wedding gifts. Personally we like just taking them to friends and family's homes when we get invited over.
We love pulling a few cloves off the braid at a time as we need them through out the fall and winter. Adding them to our favorite fall dishes like Chicken Harvest Casserole , my Homemade Spaghetti Sauce or to our from scratch Bone Broth. But mid to late winter we have generally used up the braid of garlic and can just toss away the remaining stems and dried flowers.
When to plant your Garlic
How to Make Garlic Powder
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