Preserving Garlic – Food Preservation Series

Because of partial loss of last year’s garlic crop due to decay several months after harvest, we decided that we would freeze some of this year’s garlic for use over the winter and into next Spring.  We had a lot of small bulbs this year – the garden gods did not reward us with large bulbs and the accompanying large (and easier to peel!) cloves.

Peeling a large amount of garlic is not a trivial undertaking.  The house will probably smell like garlic for a day.  When faced with such a large amount, the typical crushing of each peel with the side of a chef’s knife ends up taking, literally, hours (we had around 80 bulbs to deal with; and, yes, we’re growing less garlic in the future).   Let me cut to the chase of what we learned to make the process a bit faster…

We used a meat pounder to crush the cloves (which we laid out on a large cutting board) in short order.  You don’t end up with perfect cloves doing it this way but since we were going to mince the garlic before freezing it, we didn’t care about perfect cloves.  You’ll find that when peeling this amount of garlic, your fingers become sticky with garlic juice very quickly and the peels will start sticking to your fingers.  After about the 10th trip to the sink to wash hands and get rid of some of the sticking peels, I decided to coat my fingers with a little bit of olive oil to see if that might help.  Yes!!  I was able to peel the last 25% of the cloves without having to wash my hands even once.  Try it.

Peeled Cloves

Peeled Cloves

We decided it would be fun to roast about half of the garlic before mincing so we would have frozen roasted garlic for a variety of dishes.   We preheated the oven to 450 degrees (wait until it’s at roasting temperature to put the cloves in – you want to quickly roast them, not cook them) and left them in for about 8 minutes (checking them after 5 minutes, and note that this is a “true” convection oven).

Oiled and ready for the Oven

Oiled and ready for the Oven

The cloves destined for plain garlic were only put in the food processor (I used the small bowl insert for the amount we had) and pulsed several times, sides scraped down, and then pulsed again a few times.

Plain Garlic Minced

Plain Garlic Minced

I then thinly spread the plain garlic on a cookie sheet to freeze for about 45 minutes before bagging it.

Plain Minced Garlic Ready to Freeze

Plain Minced Garlic Ready to Freeze

We learned (via a very rude awakening!) last week when doing this same basic process for onions to take your ice out of the freezer while the alliums (onions, garlic) are in there on cookie sheets.  The ice absorbed the taste of the onions and it was just icky, to say the least.

Once the roasted garlic was roasted, I let it cool on the stovetop for about 10 minutes and then followed the same process I did for the plain garlic.

Roasted Garlic Cooling

Roasted Garlic Cooling

Roasted Garlic into the Food Processor

Roasted Garlic into the Food Processor

We pre-froze the minced garlic in thin layers before putting it into freezer bags so that we don’t end up with a solid mass of garlic in a freezer bag.  This way, it’s easy to break off the amount you need and put the bag back into the freezer right away.

Ready for the Deep Freeze

Ready for the Deep Freeze

 

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4 Responses to “Preserving Garlic – Food Preservation Series”

  1. Kimberly Holtz Says:

    Great. You gave me great ideas. I am such a garlic lover and plan to grow them next year. All the best to you!

  2. The Novice Gardener Says:

    I’m planning to grow more garlic next year, instead of the usual 5-10 bulbs, so this will come in handy. The roasted garlic, particularly, sounds like a great and delicious idea!

  3. mac Says:

    Good idea, I’ve never frozen garlic before, does it lose the garlic fragrance?

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