Garlic is part of the onion family and is widely used in cooking and for medicinal purposes. Its pungent flavor needs to be used with caution as too much garlic can overpower a dish quickly.
Since a little goes a long way, you can easily end up with more garlic than needed in your cooking. To prolong its shelf-life you can dry it to use in almost any savory dish, sauce, dressing, or dip. Follow this guide to successfully dry your own garlic at home.
Types of Garlic
Garlic is used as a spice or flavor enhancer in cooking worldwide. It is especially known to form a part of the flavor profiles of Asian, Middle Eastern, and Southern European cuisine. There are hundreds of garlic strains that can be divided into two main groups:
Softneck garlic is divided into two categories namely artichoke and silverskins. These types of garlic have many overlapping layers of white to off-white outer skin containing up to 20 cloves.
They have a long shelf-life of up to 8 months if kept unbroken as a whole bulb. Once the cloves are separated the shelf-life significantly decreases.
Hardneck garlic has easy-to-peel loose skins and a more intense flavor. They have a shorter shelf-life of 4 to five months and often grow a flowering stem that becomes hard and dry.
Can Garlic Be Dried
Garlic can be dried minced or sliced, or it can be cured by drying the bulbs whole. If you are growing your own garlic, stop watering the plants a few days before harvesting. Once harvested it is best not to wash the bulbs since you want to keep them as dry as possible.
Moisture may result in the growth of mold. If the bulbs are very dirty and cannot be cleaned off with a dry cloth simply peel off one or 2 layers of the outer skin to get them clean. Keep the roots and leaves attached.
Garlic is prone to sprouting especially when in a humid environment. It will start to develop seed-heads causing it to soften. This is another reason to keep it dry, even a few days before harvesting.
How to Dry Garlic
Drying garlic cloves and bulbs is very easy. Follow these methods below:
Method 1: Oven-drying Sliced or Minced Garlic
Step 1: Peel and Sort
Peel the cloves of garlic removing the papery outer layer as well as the individual film around the cloves. Discard or compost the skins. Sort through the cloves and remove any damaged ones.
Step 2: Chop
Slice the cloves into thin slithers or place the cloves in a blender and pulse 2 to 3 times to chop them into small pieces. If you are chopping the garlic in the blender do not pulse too many times as it will turn into a paste.
Step 3: Bake
Preheat the oven to its lowest temperature setting. This should be around 170°F (76°C) or lower.
Spread the garlic out on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer so that the pieces are not clumped together.
Bake the garlic for 30 minutes, stirring the pieces occasionally to ensure even drying. Remove the tray after 30 minutes and let the garlic cool. If it is completely dehydrated the pieces will easily crumble or snap when pressure is applied with your fingers. If they are not yet dry, repeat the process, checking on them occasionally to prevent them from burning.
Step 4: Store
Store the dried, cooled garlic in airtight containers. Keep the garlic in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Freezing the dried garlic will extend its shelf-life to one year.
To make garlic powder, grind the pieces of dried garlic in a coffee grinder or food processor straight after they have cooled. With a fine sieve, separate any large pieces that have not completely broken down.
Tip: You can also use a dehydrator to dry the chopped garlic. Set your device to 115°F (45°C) and dry for up to 48 hours.
Method 2: Curing Whole Garlic Bulbs
Drying whole garlic bulbs is best if you live in a dry, warm climate. High humidity can cause mold and ruin the entire batch. Here’s how to hang garlic to dry:
Step 1: Harvest and Hang
Once harvested, leave the garlic roots and stems on. Choose a warm area with low humidity and good air circulation. Ideally, the cloves should not be in direct sunlight.
Either hang the garlic in small bunches from a beam or arrange them in a single layer on a rack or net to allow airflow all around the plant.
Leave the bulbs for one to two months to dry. If they are placed outside, make sure there is no moisture in the air or dew during the night. In this case, keeping them in an indoor space will be a better option.
Step 2: Trim
After 2 months the leaves and roots should be papery, shriveled, and brown. Trim the roots close to the bulb. Cut the top stems off, leaving an inch of the stem on the bulb. Do not remove the skins as these protect the cloves.
Step 3: Store
Store the garlic in a cool, dry place such as a pantry, cupboard, or shed. The area should be free from humidity.
Whether you are making sauces, soups, dips, dressings, stew, stir-fry, curry, or flavored oils, garlic adds a big punch of flavor to all types of savory dishes. Fresh garlic is pungent and needs to be used in small amounts.
If you have a lot of garlic that needs to be preserved, prevent any going to waste by drying it. The safest way to do this is by using an oven or dehydrator. This way you avoid the risk of mold forming as well as losing too much flavor intensity. Dry your own garlic at home and keep your seasonings preservative-free.
*image by Baloncici/depositphotos