Sunday, 25 November 2012

Growing and storing garlic

I love garlic and use lots in cooking. It is also an excellent plant as a companion plant for many other plants. The idea behind companion planting is that some plants can give off a smell or perfume that can deter pests or is attractive to natural predators. For instance planting onions with cabbages helps control cabbage moth. Garlic is credited with keeping aphids away from roses. I grow garlic with roses and so far have not had aphid attacks.
Garlic is also good to grow under fruit trees. It also excellent for making natural garden pest sprays.
A family friend who has the most amazing garlic crops, doesn't use garlic. She gives it to me. So this is what do, as I hate to waste it.

This is a photo of the top of a garlic plant when it forms the seed head and once it dries off it is time to harvest. I have pulled this one up to show even though it has not dried off. The tiny yellow pods you can see on the side of the bulb can be planted.

I clean the garlic by first removing the roots and as much dirt as I can, peeling off the outside layer of skin and then wiping it off under running water. Don't get it too wet. Allow it to dry completely on kitchen paper( usually overnight) If it is left wet it will go mouldy. Lots of bought garlic is treated to prevent this. If you are buying garlic and it is bright white and has a very distant use by date it would be worth asking if it has been bleached and treated with chemicals.

I keep my garlic in a bowl so that is always in the air not sealed up in plastic.
I hate washing garlic presses processing it reduces that problem. I break the garlic into cloves and peel off the dry outer skin. Make sure the bulbs are scrupulously clean if in doubt rinse them again, dry them off with some paper towel. Put them in a mini food processor and just cover with oil. I use the light vegetable oil that I would normally use for stir fries etc.

Process it till it is finely chopped. Sterilise a small clean jar that has a tight fitting lid. I do this by putting a little water in the jar, and of course minus the lid, I put the jar in the microwave on high for one minute. The jar will be very hot so be careful. Using you oven glove remove the jar, tip out the water. Don't dry it with a teatowel as it is now sterile. Put your processed garlic in the jar. Put a film of oil over the top and screw lid on tightly and store in fridge.

Always use a clean spoon to take garlic out, provided you keep your jar in the fridge this will keep for about four weeks.I keep doing small batches as I run out. The dry, clean garlic will keep for several months. Then, when making a stir fry or any other dish you are cooking just add the ready prepared garlic. This is not suitable for pestos as I prefer fresh garlic for all uncooked recipes.
Great time saver!
P.s. You can also do this with ginger but I have several ways to store ginger so that will be new post.
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