Step-by-Step Guide to Harvesting, Curing, and Storing Garlic: Tips and Techniques for Maximizing Flavor and Longevity


Garlic is a versatile and popular ingredient in many dishes, adding a distinct flavor and aroma. But do you know how to correctly harvest, cure, and store garlic to ensure its long-term freshness and quality? In this article, we will explore the process of garlic harvesting, curing, and storage, and why it is important to follow each step carefully.

When it comes to harvesting garlic, timing is crucial. Garlic bulbs should be harvested when the leaves have dried down about 50-60%, usually in July. If you wait too long, the bulbs may start sprouting or the cloves may separate. The above-ground leaves will turn yellow and eventually brown, which is a good indication that the garlic is ready to be harvested.

Once you have harvested your garlic, the curing process begins. Curing is the process of drying the garlic bulbs to remove excess moisture, which helps prevent sprouting and extends its shelf life. To start the curing process, gently brush off any residual dirt or soil from the bulbs, but do not wash them. Trimming the roots and cutting off the tops (about an inch above the bulb) is also recommended.

There are several methods for curing garlic, but the most common one is to hang the bulbs in a well-ventilated and dry area, like a garage or a shed. You can hang the garlic in bunches or braid the stems together for a decorative touch. It is important to ensure good air circulation around the bulbs, as this promotes the curing process. Curing usually takes around 2-4 weeks, depending on the humidity and temperature conditions.

When your garlic bulbs are fully cured, it is time to store them for long-term use. Before storing, make sure to inspect each bulb and remove any damaged or rotten cloves. Store the bulbs in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated place, such as a pantry or basement. Avoid storing garlic in plastic bags or containers, as this can trap moisture and cause the bulbs to deteriorate.

To keep your garlic fresh for even longer, there are a few dos and don’ts to follow. Do keep the garlic bulbs separate from onions and other produce, as garlic can absorb their odors. Don’t store garlic in the refrigerator, as the cold temperature can cause the garlic to become soft and lose flavor. Instead, store garlic in a paper bag or a mesh container to allow for air circulation.

In conclusion, harvesting, curing, and storing garlic correctly is essential to ensure its long-term quality and taste. By following these tips and guidelines, you can enjoy the rich flavor and health benefits of garlic in your meals throughout the year. So, why not start growing your own garlic and embark on the rewarding process of garlic cultivation?

The Dos and Donts of Harvesting Curing and Storing Garlic

Properly harvesting, curing, and storing garlic is an essential step for any garlic grower. By following these dos and donts, you can ensure that your garlic stays fresh and flavorful for a long time.

Dos Donts
1. Harvest garlic when the stems are around 50-60% dried out. 1. Avoid harvesting garlic too early or when the stems are still too green.
2. Be careful when harvesting to avoid bruising or damaging the bulbs. 2. Don’t pull or yank the garlic from the ground, as it can lead to damage.
3. Cure garlic by drying it with the stems attached in a well-ventilated area for a few weeks. 3. Don’t store garlic with the stems still attached without properly curing it.
4. Store cured garlic in a cool, dry, and dark place to prevent sprouting and maintain its flavor. 4. Avoid storing garlic in a humid environment or near onions, as it can cause them to spoil faster.
5. Trim the roots and tops before storing garlic to remove excess moisture and prevent molding. 5. Don’t skip trimming the roots and tops, as it can lead to storage issues in the long term.
6. Consider braiding your garlic for a decorative and efficient storage method. 6. Don’t braid garlic if it’s not fully dried and cured, as it can lead to molding or rotting.

By following these tips, you’ll find it easier to harvest, cure, and store your garlic correctly. Remember, good garlic storage is the key to enjoying flavorful garlic all year round!

Note: Harvesting garlic scapes before they fully mature can redirect energy to bulb growth. They make a tasty addition to pesto or stir-fries. Also, don’t discard the sprouting garlic heads – they can still be used for cooking!


A Long Process

Garlic harvesting, curing, and storage is a pretty long process that involves several steps to ensure the proper preservation of your garlic bulbs. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to go about it:

1. Harvesting: When the leaves of the garlic plant start to turn yellow and dry down, it’s time to harvest. Use a shovel or a garden fork to gently lift the bulbs out of the soil, being careful not to damage them.

2. Cleaning: Once harvested, remove any residual soil from the bulbs. You can do this by gently brushing or shaking off the excess dirt. Avoid washing the bulbs, as water can promote fungal growth during the curing process.

3. Trimming the tops: Cut the tops of the garlic stalks to about 5 inches above the bulbs. This helps in the curing process and prevents any moisture from accumulating in the stalks or causing sprouting.

4. Curing: Curing is the process of drying the garlic bulbs. Place them in a well-ventilated, dry location, away from direct sunlight. You can hang the garlic in bundles or lay them in single layers on a screen or mesh surface.

5. Curing time: The curing process typically takes around 2-4 weeks, depending on the type of garlic and the relative humidity. The garlic bulbs are ready for long-term storage when the outer skin becomes papery and the cloves feel firm.

6. Storage: Store the cured garlic bulbs in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated place. Softneck garlic bulbs can be stored in a braided form, while hardneck garlic bulbs are best stored in mesh bags or hanging baskets. Storing garlic bulbs at temperatures below 40°F (4°C) will help to extend their shelf life.

Some Dos and Don’ts:

Do’s Don’ts
1. Harvest garlic bulbs when the tops have dried down. 1. Harvest garlic bulbs too early.
2. Clean garlic bulbs by gently brushing off soil. 2. Wash garlic bulbs with water.
3. Trim the tops of the garlic stalks to prevent sprouting. 3. Leave long stalks on the garlic bulbs.
4. Curing garlic in a well-ventilated area with good air circulation. 4. Curing garlic in a damp or humid environment.
5. Store garlic bulbs in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated place. 5. Store garlic bulbs in a warm or damp location.
6. Know the different types of garlic and their storage requirements. 6. Assume that all garlic varieties are stored the same way.

Following these steps and tips will help you properly harvest, cure, and store your garlic for long-term use. Now you can enjoy the delicious flavor and aroma of garlic in your pesto, sauces, and other culinary dishes throughout the year!

When To Harvest Garlic

  • Knowing when to harvest garlic is essential for getting the best quality bulbs. The timing for harvesting garlic depends on the type of garlic you are growing.
  • If you are growing hardneck garlic, you can start checking for harvest readiness in July. Once the leaves start to yellow and die down, you can use a long, sharp tool to gently loosen the soil around the bulbs. Be careful not to damage the bulbs while doing this process.
  • For softneck garlic, the timing is a bit different. Softneck garlic takes a bit longer to mature, sometimes up to six to eight months. To know if your softneck garlic bulbs are ready to be harvested, you can check if about half of the lower leaves have turned brown and dry.
  • When garlic bulbs are ready to be harvested, you can gently lift them out of the soil using a hand fork or a garden spade. Be sure to dig deep enough to get the entire bulb along with its roots.
  • Once you’ve harvested your garlic bulbs, it’s important to handle them correctly to ensure they cure and store properly.
  • The first step is to gently brush off any excess soil from the bulbs. You can also wash them if needed, but make sure to dry them thoroughly afterwards.
  • Curing is the process of drying the garlic bulbs to help them develop a papery skin, which is essential for long-term storage. This process typically takes two to three weeks. You can hang the garlic bulbs individually in a well-ventilated and shaded area, or you can lay them out on a screen or rack.
  • It’s important to be careful while handling the bulbs during the curing process, as they can bruise and easily become damaged.
  • After the garlic bulbs are sufficiently cured, you can trim off the roots and cut off the stems, leaving about an inch or so of stem attached to the bulb. Trimming helps improve circulation and makes it easier to clean the bulbs.
  • If you want to store your garlic bulbs for a longer period of time, there are different methods you can try. One popular method is braiding the bulbs together using their stems. This not only provides a neat storage solution, but it also looks pretty. Alternatively, you can store them in mesh bags or in a well-ventilated container.
  • No matter how you choose to store your garlic, make sure to keep them in a cool, dry, and dark place. Avoid storing them near onions, as they can cause each other to spoil due to the release of ethylene gas.
  • Now that you know when to harvest garlic and how to properly cure and store it, you can enjoy your delicious garlic harvest throughout the year and use it in a variety of dishes, from pesto to roasted garlic cloves.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.