How to Braid Garlic
A garlic braid is a tidy way to store your garlic. However, there are more benefits to braiding garlic than just its appearance. There's also the convenience in being able to grab a clove or two whenever you need it and garlic that stays fresher longer because of improved air circulation. Braiding garlic can seem a little intimidating at first, but once you get the basics down, you can make these fun ropes in no time.
Braiding Cured Garlic
Clean the bulbs.There’s no need to clean the garlic before you cure it, but you should take the time to remove any lingering dirt before you braid it. In some cases, you may be able to remove the dirt and other residue by brushing it away with your fingers. If the bulbs are particularly dirty, you may need to use a soft cloth to clean them.
- For stubborn dirt that won’t wipe away with fingers or a cloth, try using an old toothbrush to go over the bulbs. Be gentle, though, so you don’t bruise the garlic when you’re cleaning it.
- If the garlic is extremely dirty, you may want to remove a couple of the outer layers of dry skin.
Trim the garlic.To ensure that you wind up with a neat, attractive braid, you’ll need to trim the bulbs before you begin braiding. There are usually long, scraggly roots attached to the bulbs, so you’ll want to cut those to approximately ¼-inch. The roots aren’t very thick, so you can use regular scissors to trim the garlic.
- If you notice that any of the leaves are jagged or scraggy, you may want to trim them as well because they can make it more difficult to braid.
Soak the garlic stems.When you’re braiding, you want the bulbs’ leaves to be pliable so they’re easier to braid. The best way to make them more flexible is to soak them in water. Fill a bowl or sink with lukewarm water, and soak the garlic so just the leaves are submerged. You don’t want the bulbs to get wet. Let the leaves soak for approximately 15 to 30 minutes, or until they feel more pliable.
- Instead of soaking the leaves, you can sandwich them between two thoroughly wet towels. Once again, make sure the bulbs are not getting wet, and let the leaves sit for 15 to 30 minutes.
Select three largest bulbs and criss cross them.To make an attractive braid, you’ll need approximately 12 bulbs. As you’re sorting the ones that you’ll use, set aside the three largest bulbs to serve as the start of the braid. Lay them on a flat surface with one bulb in the center, one to its left, and one to its right. The center bulb’s leaves should be pointed at you, while the other two’s leaves are criss crossed over one another to form an X over the center bulb.
- It helps to secure the place where the bulbs overlap with a piece of twine. Make sure that the piece you use is long enough to knot over the bulbs with enough excess that you can secure additional bulbs that you place in the braid.
Start adding bulbs.Place a fourth bulb over the existing bundle, so it matches up with the center bulb. Use the excess twine to secure the fourth bulb to the stack to make it easier when you start to braid. Next, take two more bulbs and align them with the two diagonal bulbs in a criss cross fashion.
- Take the time to line them up as much as possible because it’ll be easier when it comes time to braid.
Begin braiding.With all of the bulbs’ leaves lined up, it’s time to start the braid. Make sure that you’re grabbing the two sets of leaves for each section as you begin braiding. Take the two leaves from the right side and cross them under the middle leaves, so they become the center pieces. Next, take the two leaves on the left and cross them under the middle leaves. Repeat the process one or two more times.
- You may find it easier to secure the braid with more twine before you add more bulbs. Just tie the knot in the back to keep it neat.
Add more bulbs.Once you’ve started the braid, you can add three bulbs. You should line the leaves up with the existing ends of the braids as you did with the second set, so one aligns with the left section, one aligns with the center, and one aligns with the right. Start braiding again for one or two passes, and repeat the process until you’ve added all of your bulbs.
- It’s a good idea to use twine to secure the bundle of bulbs after you’ve added the last set. That will make it easier to finish off the rest of the braid. To make it more decorative, tie it off in a bow.
Finish braiding and secure the entire garlic braid.After you’ve added all of the garlic, you should continue braiding the leaves until you get to the end. Use another piece of twine to tie off the end and secure the entire braid. Use a pair of scissors to trim the end of the roots so they’re even and neat -- and you’re ready to hang your garlic braid in your kitchen.
- You may also want to make the time to trim the fine roots at the tops of the bulbs to give the braid a neater appearance.
Curing Harvested Garlic
Choose a proper spot for curing.If you want to preserve your garlic for long-term use, you need to cure it after it’s harvested. The curing process is meant to help the bulbs dry out, so you need to choose the right location to keep them. You want a dry, dark space with good air circulation. A covered porch, carport, barn, or well-ventilated garage can work well.
- Make sure to keep garlic that you’re curing out of direct sunlight because the heat can start to cook it and change its flavor.
Create bundles of garlic.When you’re ready to cure your garlic, it’s best to divide your harvest into portions. It’s usually best to create bundles of 5 to 10 bulbs, and tie them together with string or twine that's wrapped and knotted around their stalks. You can then hang them or place them on mesh racks for curing, so it’s easier for air to circulate around the bulbs.
- Don’t remove any leaves or do any trimming when you’re preparing the bundles of garlic. The bulbs still gets energy from the rest of the plant until all of the moisture is gone.
Allow the bundles to sit for two weeks to a month.For the garlic to fully cure, you have to wait until all of the moisture evaporates from the leaves and roots. That can take anywhere from two weeks to a month. If you live in a very humid location, though, it may take longer. You’ll know that the garlic is cured when the roots are shriveled, the leaves turn brown, and the bulbs have developed several layers of papery skin.
- When you plan to braid your garlic, it’s often easier if you don’t allow it to fully cure. Let it go for about a week, and then braid it when the stems are still flexible.
Growing and Harvesting Garlic
Get the timing right.The best time to plant garlic is in the fall approximately four to six weeks before the ground freezes in your area. The colder your climate is, the earlier in the fall that you should plant. That means the garlic is usually ready to harvest in early to mid summer, which can be anywhere from July to August. Because garlic grows underground, it can be difficult to know when it’s ready -- the trick is to watch the plants and notice when approximately ⅓ of the leaves are pale yellow and shriveled.
- Dry soil around the plants is another sign that your garlic is ready to be harvested.
- If you aren’t sure whether your garlic is ready to be harvested, remove one or two bulb to examine them. They should be a good size, and the skins should be completely filled.
Loosen the soil around the bulbs.If the soil is too tightly compacted around the garlic, it can be difficult to remove them from the ground. Before you try to lift the bulbs free, use a digging fork or small shovel to carefully loosen the dirt around the bulbs of garlic so you’ll be able to easily work them free. Don’t dig too close to the bulbs or you may damage them.
- Be careful when you’re using the fork or shovel around the bulbs. Garlic is delicate, so it can bruise easily.
Lift the garlic from the soil.You may be tempted to pull the bulbs out of the ground by their stems, but you can damage the garlic if you extract it too roughly. Instead, use a spade, shovel, or garden fork to gently lift the bulbs out of the dirt. Gently place the harvested bulbs in a container, such as a bucket, to keep them safe as you continue to remove the rest of the garlic.
- It’s usually best to use a spade or shovel to lift the garlic out of the ground because it’s easier to damage if you use a pointed tool like a garden fork.
- Keep the garlic out of the sun after you harvest it. Place the container that’s holding the bulbs in the shade or cover it with a sheet.
QuestionDoes braided garlic last longer than loose garlic?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBraided garlic does tend to stay fresher longer than loose garlic because hanging it in a braid allows air to circulate around the bulbs more easily.Thanks!
QuestionMy neighbor's garlic looks very nice, but when he harvests it, the bulbs are soft and mushy. What causes this?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt is because of the chemical used for the easy and fast growth. Try using vegetable waste as a support for the growth instead of chemicals.Thanks!
How do you store the garlic that you want to replant in the fall?
- Braid garlic before it has completely dried so the leaves are pliable enough to handle.
- Store fresh garlic in low temperatures, 32 to 35 °F (0 to 2 °C), or at room temperature, 60 to 70 °F (16 to 21 °C).
- For a cleaner looking garlic braid, remove the outer bulb wrapper.
- After it’s been cured, the flavor of garlic usually intensifies, so start by using a small amount in your dish and adding more if necessary.
- If you make more than one braid, it’s best to keep the extras in your pantry or another cool, dry space rather than in the kitchen. Hang only the one you’re currently using in the kitchen.
- Garlic is best stored in a cool, dry space, so don’t hang your braid in direct sunlight or near the stove or radiator.
Video: How to Braid Garlic 🌿
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