Planting, weeding, and harvesting your garlic is more than half the battle but you do need to know the ins and outs of how to dry and cure garlic after you harvest it.
The good news is that you’ll just need to follow a few simple and easy steps to cure your garlic and won’t need any equipment other than some string and an open, airy place in the shade to hang your garlic.
Curing your garlic is important for two reasons: 1) bulbs need to be very dry to store without rotting and 2) bulbs will actually continue to grow slightly during the curing process as they draw moisture and nutrients from the rest of the plant.
Unlike onions and some other alliums, garlic plants and bulbs shouldn’t be left in the field to dry after they’re dug up as garlic doesn’t fare well in direct sunlight after being harvested.
Dig your garlic and remove what dirt will easily brush off the bulb but don’t worry about getting the bulbs very clean.
Move your garlic — bulb, stem, leaves, and all — to where you’ll dry and cure it. Good curing locations include barns, sheds, and carports; basically any shaded location with good airflow and breezes where you can hang up bunches of garlic to dry.
The easiest way to dry garlic is also the simplest. Divide up your plants into bunches of 5-10 plants and tie two of those bunches together, one on each end of a length of string or twine.
Hang up your garlic just as it comes out of the ground, with roots, stem and leaves intact. You’ll clean up bulbs and trim roots and stems when your garlic has cured and dried.
Once you have a bunch tied on each end of your string, hang it in the middle over a rope, rafter, or nail and adjust as needed so that each bunch hangs down without bumping into its neighbor.
There’s no real science to how many plants to add to a bunch so don’t sweat the details too much. Just avoid tying together so many that each bulb can’t get good airflow in order to dry properly.
How to Dry and Cure Garlic – Drying Time
Drying and curing time will depend on local conditions, but in general your garlic will be properly dried and cured within 2 to 4 weeks after you hang it up.
Wet and humid conditions will increase the amount of time needed to dry and cure garlic, whereas garlic may cure very quickly in hot and dry climates.
Stalks and leaves will be very green when first hung up and slowly turn into brown, withered husks as your garlic dries and cures.
Your garlic is typically properly cured when steams and leaves have turned completely brown and are dry and crumbly to the touch.
If in doubt, leave your garlic to dry some more, as it’s always better to dry longer than to trim and store it too early when moisture is still present.