Curing Garlic Bulbs

Dateline: 9 August 2006
Updated: 10 April 2013

I’ve been growing garlic for several years now. Five years ago I started making and selling garlic powder from my bulbs and that has turned into a nice little home business for me. In previous years I’ve grown as much as 4,500 bulbs but I found that was more than I could properly care for and process with the limited time I have (I work a full-time factory job and have several other irons in the fire). So I’ve settled on growing around 1,200 bulbs and that is what I harvested a few weeks ago.

When you dig the garlic, the skins are not papery, like the garlic you buy in the store. The bulbs need to dry down or “cure.” In previous years I have hung my garlic in bunches to let them cure. It’s a lot of work and trouble to hang the bunches and get good air flow. That being the case, this year I tried something completely different, and it has worked very well for me.

What I did was build drying racks out of 2x6 lumber. They have metal poultry netting stapled to the bottoms and they stack on top of each other like shown in this photo:

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As you can see from the photo, the shelves set on top of a box, which is made of 1/4” sheet material screwed to 2x4 uprights in the corners. A basic household fan fits in the bottom and aims up towards the shelves, as shown in this photo:

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I cut the tops off the bulbs immediatly after harvesting, put the bulbs on the shelves, and stacked the shelves up (as shown in this next photo). I ran the fan for a week straight and it dried the bulbs very nicely. But, I ran the fan a few days longer until I could start sorting and cleaning the garlic (which I am doing after work these days). Some bulbs will are being net-bagged for seed to plant in October. Some will go into garlic powder. And the largest bulbs will be sold by Marlene this weekend at a special event she is selling her homemade soaps at. I’ll have more to say about garlic in the days ahead.

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7 comments:

Scott Holtzman said...

Super production set up - looks as if you have "determined' supervisor in that last photo!

JM said...

Herrick.

Great Garlic set up. Sounds like a successful harvest. Our Indiana Garlic made the transition to Minnesota and we had a wonderful increase. Blessings
JM

Herrick Kimball said...

Scott-
Yonder Annie was laying down in the driveway minding her own business (probably dreaming of woodchucks) and before I snapped the picture I said. "Look here Annie!" She lazily hoisted herself up on her front legs and gave me the dutiful look in the photo.

JM-
I'm glad to hear that your garlic made the trip well and is making itself to home. It was a good garlic season in NY too. Nice to hear from you.

Marci said...

Great idea. I have friends that built your whizbang plucker and they got your garlic book and grow that as well. I will pass this information along to them.

I am looking forward to getting some of your garlic powder this year.

garliclady said...

Glad to hear you are using racks. We built some 7 years ago . Ours are similar but have feet . We don't use the fan. Because we have over 40 racks and we stack them in a curing shed with an airconditioner and fans.
Pictures of our racks. http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f245/CornerstoneGarlicFarm/DCP_0013SmallWebview.jpg

http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f245/CornerstoneGarlicFarm/DCP_0014.jpg

Anonymous said...

hanging works great for us.
We are a 2nd generation garlic farm and every year my wife plants 100,000, harvests them and cures them herself. Each situation has its own way of doing things. No need for a fan for us, lots of breeze through our place, so get automatic "wind" :) The racks look good tho :)

jimmycrackedcorn said...

When I harvested my hardneck garlic this year, I cut the stem from one of them as a test, and it began dripping garlic juice.

In this article you state that you cut the stems right after harvest. Did you leave them in the ground until all the green leaves had browned?