Do you remember when we harvested our garlic? There was so much of it, more than 200 fully formed bulbs; a profusion of garlic! Despite some niggling doubt, I was confident our garlic-loving family could plow right through that, no problem.
Well, as it turns out, we had a problem.
Even loving garlic the way we do, even fully curing it and properly storing it, even incorporating garlic into almost every single dinner we cooked, there was absolutely no possible way we could eat 200 heads of organically grown garlic before it started to sprout. With no sprouting inhibitors sprayed on them (like on conventionally grown grocery store garlic), our bulbs were feeling the pull of spring just like the rest of us.
We grew hardneck garlic, which give us those wonderful scapes in June, but which don’t store as long as softneck varieties. Normally hardnecks will store well for 6-10 months, depending on where you keep them. Garlic keeps best in the dark at a cool room temperature, from 60-65º Fahrenheit with moderate humidity. Our pantry is dark and cool, but not very humid. We got seven months of storage from this garlic though, which I consider pretty good. I just had to figure out how to process and preserve what was left to last an even longer amount of time.
First things first, we had to separate and peel each and every clove. Cured hardneck garlic is not easy to peel – the skins are hard and surprisingly tough. Shaking the cloves in a glass jar won’t work. It takes just digging your fingernails in and cracking it apart, bit by bit. It’s tedious and time-consuming, but it works. After that we cut each clove down the middle and took out the green shoot that was starting to grow. This is important, because to leave it in will add a very bitter flavor to your garlic.
We ended up preserving our garlic in a few different ways and I’ll be talking about those throughout the week. Today, I’m sharing an incredibly versatile way to use it: homemade garlic powder.
Garlic Powder (in the oven)
Homemade garlic powder is so easy and useful, it’s a wonder more people don’t make it. The flavor is so much more intense than store-bought, and there are no questionable additives or preservatives. You can use it in almost every way and in almost every recipe that calls for fresh garlic, but it really holds its own in dry rubs and marinades for meat and veggies, sauces, and when making garlic bread.
- garlic (as much or as little as you want)
- cutting board
- sharp knife (I preferred using a paring knife)
- baking sheets
- parchment paper
- blender or grinder
- airtight jars
- Preheat the oven to lowest temperate (170º if possible)
- Separate and peel the garlic cloves
- If they’re starting to sprout, halve the cloves and remove the green shoot
- Slice the garlic into thin, evenly sized slices
- Place the slices on baking sheets covered with parchment paper
- Let dry in the oven for 3-4 hours, or until completely dried through
- Blend or grind the dry slices until they make a fine powder
- You can also use a food dehydrator if you have one. Check the instructions for cooking temperatures and times.
- There’s no need to turn the slices while they’re in the oven, just keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn.
- If you prefer, you can also store the dried garlic slices without blending or grinding them. They’re great for adding to soups, stir-frys and other meals.
- Homemade garlic powder contains no additives or preservatives, but dried properly it can keep for up to a year. For best results and flavor, I would keep just a small amount in your spice cabinet and freeze the rest of it.
Is anyone else busy in the kitchen preserving last year’s harvests before it goes bad? Do you make your own garlic powder? What are your favorite recipes to use it in?