If you use a lot of garlic for cooking, making garlic braids to hang in your kitchen is a fun and functional way to store your harvest. Braiding not only makes the bulbs look attractive, it also provides each bulb with good air circulation, which prolongs storage.
All you need to make a braid is 10 to12 soft-neck garlic bulbs (like those you commonly see in grocery stores), a pair of scissors, and a few small pieces of string or twine. This technique can also be applied to onions and shallots.
When garlic's green leaves ("stems") start to turn brown and go limp, the heads are nearly ready for harvesting. The outer-most (lower) leaves will die first, and the inner (upper) leaves last. Harvest the heads after the lower leaves have all died down and only the top 4 to 6 leaves remain green. These remaining green leaves are important, because each corresponds to a bulb wrapper protecting the cloves. To remove the heads from the ground, carefully pull them up by the neck with the aid of a spade of garden fork. Any cloves cut or damaged during harvest should be used immediately.
Newly harvested garlic (and onion) bulbs must be cured before being braided and stored to toughen up their skins. When it's sunny and warm, this can be done by laying them out to dry for the day on newspapers. If you expect rain, take them indoors and spread them out on newspaper in a warm room.
Note: As you continue to add stems and bulbs, try to space them evenly apart along the length of the braid. You're braiding "overhand", so the braid will form under the bulbs as you go. Each stem is lengthened by adding another on top of it, so no stem will extend the entire length of the braid.
About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services.
This reminds me that it is time to plant garlic here in the Pacific Northwest! I love garlic in everyway: Fresh, roasted, sauteed, etc...
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