top of page
  • Writer's pictureJere Folgert

How to Clean Hardneck Garlic after Harvest

From Dirt to Delight: A Garlic Lover's Guide to Curing and Cleaning

Welcome, garlic enthusiasts! If you're anything like us, you appreciate the bold, aromatic presence of hardneck garlic in your culinary creations. But do you know what goes into preparing that humble bulb for its starring role in the kitchen? Today, we're diving into the fascinating world of curing and cleaning garlic after harvest – and trust us, it's a journey worth savoring!

Step 1: Harvesting with Care

Before we embark on our hardneck garlic-cleaning adventure, let's take a moment to appreciate the journey from soil to harvest. Garlic, with its distinct cloves nestled snugly within a papery wrapper, spends months developing its robust flavor beneath the earth's surface. When the time is right – usually indicated by the browning of the bottom three leaves – it's time to harvest!

Step 2: Curing – Patience is a Virtue

Once harvested, garlic undergoes a transformative process known as curing. Curing involves allowing the bulbs to dry out gradually, away from direct sunlight, typically for several weeks. This not only intensifies the flavor but also extends the garlic's shelf life – a win-win for garlic aficionados everywhere! Hang or arrange the garlic plants (bulb, roots, stem and leaves) in a dry place, away from direct sunlight and with good air circulation.

Step 3: Cleaning – The Magic Begins

Now comes the fun part – cleaning your cured garlic bulbs to reveal their culinary potential. But hold your horses – there's an important rule to remember: never wash garlic with water. Why, you ask? Washing can introduce moisture, potentially leading to mold growth and compromising the garlic's quality. Instead, we'll rely on a few clever techniques to get our garlic gleaming!

Tip 1: Remove the Root Structures with Ease

Ever struggled with stubborn garlic roots clinging to the bulb? Fear not! Simply don a trusty leather glove and gently rub the roots away. The glove provides just the right amount of friction to loosen those dry, brittle pesky roots without damaging the bulb – it's like magic for garlic lovers!

Tip 2: Clip the Stem with Precision

With the roots banished, it's time to focus on the stem. Grab your shears and snip off the stem, leaving an inch or two intact. This step not only tidies up the appearance of the garlic but also helps to prolong its shelf life by reducing the risk of moisture accumulation. Leaving two inches of the hardneck stem intact, also helps us "Pop" a garlic bulb (Popping a garlic bulb easily releases the individual cloves from the bulb).

Tip 3: Unwrap with Care

Now, for the pièce de résistance – removing the outermost paper wrapping that encases the bulb. With a gentle touch, peel away this layer of "garlic paper" to reveal the pristine bulb beneath. You'll be amazed at how effortlessly this process removes dirt and soil, leaving your garlic ready for its culinary debut! This only works well if the hardneck garlic bulb is fully cured.

Curing is no mere drying session. It's a spa treatment for garlic, allowing it to shed its excess moisture and mature into its most flavorful form. Imagine garlic cloves concentrating their essence, their garlicky goodness intensifying with each passing day. Here's the lowdown on this magical metamorphosis:

  • The Great Goodbye to Moisture: Freshly harvested garlic is bursting with water. Curing gently removes this excess moisture, creating a drier, firmer bulb. Think of it like a weight-loss program for garlic – it sheds water weight) to become a more potent version of itself.

  • Sun's Out, Garlic's Not In: Direct sunlight is a big no-no during curing. It can cook the garlic and zap its flavor potential. Instead, picture a cool, shaded haven, like a breezy attic or a covered porch. This is where the garlic gets to relax and rejuvenate.

  • The Power of Airflow: Just like you wouldn't want to exercise in a stuffy gym, garlic needs good air circulation during curing. Imagine a gentle breeze wafting through, carrying away moisture and preventing mold growth. Think of it as garlic's personal air conditioner, keeping it fresh and happy.

The Rewards of Patience:

This curing process typically takes several weeks, but don't fret! With each passing day, the garlic's flavor deepens, becoming more complex and nuanced. It's like a symphony building in intensity, waiting for its grand finale in your next culinary masterpiece.

The Fun Part: Hangin' with the Garlic Gang

Now, the best part! Curing allows you to get creative. You can braid the garlic stalks together, creating a beautiful, fragrant garland. Or, hang them individually from the ceiling, transforming your storage space into a garlic grotto (sounds way more exciting than a pantry, right?).

So there you have it, the fascinating world of garlic curing! By allowing your garlic to undergo this process, you're not just storing it – you're unlocking its full potential, creating a flavor powerhouse that will elevate your dishes to new heights. Now get out there, harvest your garlic, and witness its magical metamorphosis firsthand!

And there you have it – a garlic bulb transformed from a humble harvest to a culinary gem, all thanks to the art of curing and cleaning. Whether you're roasting it to perfection, mincing it for a savory sauce, or infusing it into oils and marinades, properly cleaned garlic is sure to elevate your dishes to new heights.

So, the next time you find yourself in the kitchen with a bulb of garlic in hand, take a moment to appreciate the journey it undertook to reach your plate. And remember, with a little patience and TLC, every garlic bulb has the potential to add a touch of magic to your culinary creations. Happy cooking!


GroEat Farm, LLC is a small, sustainable family farm located in Bozeman, Montana.  We’re located in the beautiful Hyalite foothills, below the Gallatin Mountain Range.  The hardneck varieties that grow at our farm (Ophioscorodon) flourish here, due to the combination of the cold winters, temperate summers, moist spring, and the dynamic alluvial soils, washed down from the Gallatin Range (comprised of Archean metamorphics, Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks, and Eocene volcanics).  Not only are the GroEat Hardneck garlic healthy and beautiful, the flavor’s are robust and delicate.


Our mission at GroEat Farm, LLC is to grow premium hardneck garlic, preserve garlic varieties for the future (through propagation), and to provide others with the opportunity to grow garlic from our seed.   We help home gardeners, chefs, small-scale commercial growers, gardeners, plant nurseries, and anyone else looking for better hardneck garlic.  We are continuing a very long tradition of growing quality gourmet and seed hardneck garlic.   

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page