Garden Talk: Air-drying garlic and herbs

Hardneck garlic bulbs hanging up to cure inside a greenhouse (Photo by Sheli DeLaney/KTOO)

After garlic is harvested, it can be cured by hanging in a warm, dry place with good air circulation for a few weeks.

Master gardener Ed Buyarski says that he has garlic hanging in his greenhouses, his furnace room and his garage.

“In fact, last week I bought a dehumidifier to go in my garage underneath the garlic, and I’m emptying it twice a day.” Buyarksi says. “So I’m hoping that it will dry it better so it keeps better.”

Some of the garlic has been set aside to be eaten fresh rather than preserved. They show signs of the fungus disease botrytis. Buyarski recommends keeping them separate from unaffected garlic plants and giving them a quick rinse in a 10% bleach solution.

Garlic bulbs with the tell-tale pink streaks of botrytis should be eaten fresh rather than preserved (Photo by Sheli DeLaney/KTOO)

“We’ll eat them, friends will eat them. But we will not use that for the replanting later on in late September and October.”

A couple of days of air-drying is all that’s needed to preserve garden herbs, too, such as the oregano Buyarski grows in his greenhouse.

“Dry it just on cookie sheets in the open. I don’t bother to put it in a dehydrator.” he recommends. “Because if you heat it then you lose some of the volatile oils.”

Buyarski has even experimented with drying garlic leaves.

“That was quite a failure, that was in a dehydrator,” he says. “Made the house smell wonderful. But the next morning when we went to taste the dried crunchy garlic leaves, there was no flavor left.”

For other herbs that lose flavor when dried, like basil and chives, or are too tender for the drying process, Buyarski suggests freezing them in a baggie or even in ice cubes.

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