Now that the Australian garlic harvest season is in full swing, we thought it timely for a little reminder on how to care for your delicious Australian grown garlic.
The first thing to remember is that garlic is a living organism. Unlike fruit and vegetables, that start to decay as soon as they’re picked, garlic remains vigorously alive and breathing – just waiting for its opportunity to spring back into full life after the summer hibernation.
As such you need to store your garlic where it can breathe. Never wrap fresh garlic in plastic, or keep it in a plastic container – and the cold, humid environment of the fridge is a big no no. These environments can cause your garlic to die, become mushy and rot, or sprout out of season.
The best place to store your “unpeeled” garlic bulb is in a dry, dim and well ventilated position. If you bought your garlic prepacked – such as a in a box, nestled in wood wool – or in a paper bag – or a mesh weave bag – leave the garlic in its packaging and just open the box or bag or mesh.
On top of the fridge, on top of the cupboards, in your laundry or in the garage are perfect locations. Try not to store your garlic in a closed cupboard.
You can then either break off individual cloves – or use whole bulbs – as required.
Wildly assuming you don’t eat all your delicious, fresh, Australian garlic straight away, if stored correctly the garlic should last until late March the following year.
If – wildly assuming people that we are – you do have some garlic left by end of March, it may begin to sprout and pop out a green shoot. Because garlic is living, the enzymes produced at this time make the garlic even more healthier for you (if that is remotely possible) and you can eat the clove shoot and all – although the flavour may not be so good.
If – wildly assuming people that we are – you do have some garlic left by end of March, and are unlikely to use it all by the end of April, then peel your cloves and freeze them. The garlic will become mushy when defrosted and the flavour not so intense, but this delicious, organically grown garlic is still better than any import you’ll find in the supermarkets over winter.
If – wildly assuming people that we are – you do have some garlic left by end of March, and it is showing signs of sprouting, feel free to break the cloves off the base plate – plant them in the garden pointy side up just below the soil surface – keep moist but not wet (mulch helps with this) – and harvest your own crop the following Spring.
You’ll know your garlic is ready for harvest when 2/3rd of the leaves have died off. Pull a little soil back from one of the bulbs and see if you can feel the ridges of the cloves. If not, cover again and wait another week. If so, harvest your bulbs and either enjoy them green or hang them to dry.
To dry your garlic – trim off the roots – hang or lay them in a dry, well ventilated location until the leaves have all dried out – and then either leave them insitu and use as required, or trim off the leaves and store as above.
Also, don’t underestimate green garlic (early harvested and undried) as a delicious early season delight. Treat the bulbs as you would a leek or onion – peel off the outer layers, slice and use the soft insides, skin and all. Green garlic will last up to three weeks in the fridge.
Enjoy and become a garlic addict too