So now that we’ve harvested all of our lovely garlic, it’s time to do something with it! Obviously, some of it will be going into cooking, but chances are that you will want to grow more next year. I find that braiding it is a great way to keep it all together and in one place so you can find it come fall.
Start by pulling the largest bulbs you’ve grown out of your pile. It can be tempting to grab those and plop them right into a big ol’ pot of spaghetti, but you want to keep these giants for “breeding”. These bulbs have the traits you want to see in next year’s crop, so you want them to be the ones making “baby” garlics. Keep the shrimpy ones for eating.
I’d love to say that I have photos for you of every step of this process. I intended to, and I did my best to take the pictures…but braiding garlic is a difficult enough process without stopping after every move to take a photo and I have to admit that I gave up after the first few steps. Don’t worry. I’m not leaving you high and dry, I’ll walk you through the start of it (by far the most complicated part) and then send you to the page I use when I’m braiding.
If you know how to French braid, you’re already two steps ahead.
Start with your 3 largest bulbs of garlic. Lay them together with the stems crossing. Your garlic that is furthest to the right should be on the bottom.
Start by folding the stem of your bottom bulb (the one furthest to the right) back towards itself. Tuck the stem behind the bulb and wrap it around itself. Bring the stem all the way around to the front again and keep wrapping until the stem points back in the same direction it did originally.
This is where you add in another bulb…and where it started to become impossible for me to simultaneously braid and photograph. The basic gist of how this works is that you add bulbs in as you braid, center, right and then left and always have their stems in the center…and fold the stem that is closest to the ground (the bottom stem) over top of it and into the middle before adding the next bulb…but if you’re a visual learner, feel free to click through to this link that shows everything step by step.
Don’t be discouraged if your first braid doesn’t turn out well. My first one is ALWAYS a huge mess. The more you practice the better you’ll get. It does also help to braid them before your stalks dry out completely…but I never seem to manage. If you don’t like the messy look of the roots on your bulbs, they can easily be lopped off with scissors.
Have fun braiding! Tomorrow we’ll talk about other ways to store your garlic.