Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Garlic not storing as long as usual

The early harvest and hot, dry summer are taking a toll on the garlic this year. Some garlic that is usually rock-hard at this time of year is starting to feel a bit soft. We have it stored in a root cellar, covered in burlap to keep in some moisture. Even with that it looks like the garlic will dry out earlier than usual. Check your stored garlic often to check for softness. When a clove or two feels soft that usually means the bulb won't store too much longer.
What to do with soft garlic
You can pull off just the soft cloves and use those in cooking-they're still yummy, just not as crispy. To rehydrate soft cloves just put in in some hot water for a while, or microwave in water for a few seconds. You may also want to process some with olive oil and freeze in cubes or packets for later cooking. You can plant soft garlic, even if it has no skin. It will rehydrate in the soil.
Sprouting garlic
Our Turban type of garlics (Tzan, Shantung Purple, Uzbek Turban) are unusual in that they stay firm for a long time, but sprout early. You can use the sprouted garlic (with or without the green sprout) just fine, and some of the bulbs may still store for a long time with one sprouted clove. Just squeeze the bulbs once in a while to check for firmness.
How to store your garlic for the winter
I recommend a cool place such as a basement, cold closet, or garage (if it doesn't freeze in there). Room temperature works fine too- just be sure to keep it away from the heat of the stove and out of direct sunlight. Storing in a paper bag is ideal- it keeps in some moisture but the garlic can still breathe.
Can I store it in the fridge?
Although I haven't tried it myself (too much!) a few reliable sources have said it works well. Keep it in a paper bag in the vegetable bin.