Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Gotta love garlic

If there's one thing I love to grow in the garden each year, it's garlic.

Year after year, this beautiful allium produces a dependable crop of huge cloves.

After harvesting, I work in the shade of the barn where I trim off all the stems. I grow a German porcelain-neck garlic. Rather than those annoying cloves that get smaller and smaller toward the center, this kind of garlic has large (and sometimes huge) cloves around a central stiff (or "porcelain") stem. It's got a nice bite to it, just as garlic should.

A friend wanted to grow some of her own, so I passed on several heads for planting.

After pulling garlic, it needs to dry out for a few days. I laid the garlic out on cardboard on some wire shelves we have in the house.

Over time, I peeled the garlic. It's kind of a laborious task, but for some reason I don't mind it. I do a bit at a time and rather enjoy pulling shining creamy-white garlic cloves from the dirty skins.

I kept back 150 of the largest cloves for planting, and on October 29, I went out to plant them in the garlic boat. Mr. Darcy was a huge help.

So huge, in fact, that I had to put him back in the house until I was finished. There's only so much help I can take, doncha know.

I started by scraping back the pine needle mulch, thinking I could plant half the bed at a time.

But since I like to lay the whole bed out before planting, I ended up removing all the mulch for the moment.

Planting takes no time at all. Shove a trowel into the dirt, angle it out to create a space, drop in the clove (root side down), remove the trowel, and it's on to the next clove.

Then I recovered the bed with pine needle mulch, and that's it for garlic in the garden until next summer.

But I still had to preserve the garlic. I usually can my garlic, since we don't have a basement or root cellar for long-term storage of cloves. This year's harvest was kinda light, about 7.5 lbs altogether.

To can it, I start by chopping it up using a food processor.

Then I parboil it by heating water to boiling, turning off the heat, then adding the chopped garlic and letting it sit for about ten minutes.

Then I drain the pot, reserving the cook water.

I fill the jars with the heated, drained chopped garlic, then later top off the jars with garlic-y cook water.

Scalding the Tattler lids.

I ended up with twelve pints. Garlic is low-acid, of course, so I used the pressure canner.

Adjusted for our elevation, I held it at 12 lbs. pressure for 25 minutes.

During the course of canning it, I heard a loud "PANG" from inside the canner. "Lost a jar," I remarked to Don. Sure enough, after things had cooled down and I removed the canner lid, I had a jar which broke out its bottom. I didn't dare keep the garlic from the jar since I didn't want to risk ground glass. Eh, this stuff happens.

And meanwhile I had 11 other jars of beautifully preserved garlic to last us over the next year.

Gotta love garlic. And canning.


  1. We ferment ours in salt water. No calling necessary, and it lasts for years in a cool, dark cupboard.

  2. Gah. I meant "no *CANNING* necessary." Sorry, I was posting from a phone...

  3. If you find you want to try something different, try canning the minced garlic in olive oil. I process mine at 10lbs pressure for 90 minutes.

    I also can some whole cloves in a mixture of equal amounts of olive oil and red wine vinegar. I use 1/2 pints and also add 1/4 tsp of salt. Process same as minced garlic. The whole cloves are very soft after canning and are FABULOUS spread on crackers. Very easy to use for seasoning also. Addictive.


  4. I dehydrate our garlic. Of course, I have to put the dehydrator on the north porch because of the amazing (pungent) odor that emanates from the dehydrating cloves!

  5. I love garlic. It is the one guaranteed crop I can get year after year.

  6. Patrice, there is a little tool for removing garlic skins that works wonderfully. It is just a white, rubber tube. You put the garlic inside, press down and roll back and forth gently. The skins come right off. We eat a lot of garlic! Martha

  7. Garlic is good. More garlic is better! :)

  8. we were given some garlic pickled in the serbian manner. delicious. cloves were as crisp as a pickle.

  9. Happy Thanksgiving, Thanks for a nice blog and all your hard work to bring us information. Love the pictures of your place and new pup.
    From countryjo

  10. Planted 150 cloves three weeks ago. Looks like I've already got about 75% of the cloves sprouting. Susanville is the best garlic we have planted in many years. Very sweet when roasted. +1 on the rubber roller thingy.

  11. I tried the "shake in a bottle" method of peeling and it worked very nicely. Still had to clean it up a little, but decreased the work tremendously. Had a new canning experience though. Apparently had not gotten all the air bubbles out and a couple of my jars blew the tops off. Jars still intact, lids (I use Tattlers) and rings still intact, just no longer engaged! My theory is that the bubbles at the bottom expanded and pushed the garlic mass against the lid, so the pressure could not escape and BLEWY! Oh well, live and learn. Next year I will be more careful on that part. Honestly, I have neglected the whole "get all the bubbles out" step in the past.

    1. It also might be you tightened your rings just a bit too much. Tattlers need to vent during processing, and if they can't vent, they sometimes blow (or simply don't seal). It seems counter-intuitive, but loosen them just a bit next time and see if that helps. Also, don't tighten the rings when you pull the jars from the canner -- just let them cool down without adjustment.

      - Patrice

  12. I bought garlic, yellow onions, and red onions at 75% off at Lowe's. I need to get it planted. In my zone, I am not late. I am glad I came here to see your garlic. I have 240 bulbs of onions, alone and over 100 garlic. I have no idea where to plant them since I don't have a boat.

    1. If you don't have an old rowboat hanging around, you might try planting them in tires. Can't hurt might help.

      - Patrice