How to cure garlic
There are many ways to cure garlic, and it is essential to get it right. Mainly, put clean garlic in an area out of the sun with good airflow. It takes about 2-3 weeks for garlic to cure completely. It can be eaten at any time after harvest although the flavor has not completely developed.
An efficient way to cure garlic
When we harvest our garlic, we brush the dirt out of the roots right away. If they are really muddy, we will cut the roots. Within 1 hour of harvest, we pull the lowest green leaf from the garlic bulb which cleans the garlic bulb. We will cut the mass of leaves off the bulb leaving about 6-9" of stem. Next, we put the garlic bulbs about 2-3 bulbs deep in bulb crates (not to many). We store the bulb crates in our warehouse out of sunlight with a temperature of about 70-75 degrees keeping the humidity about 60% (which is hard to control). Most importantly, we have plenty of fans blowing on our garlic to keep constant air flow for about 2-3 weeks.
We do not have any mold issues by curing garlic this way. Mold is quite natural with a root crop especially alliums. Our goal is to ship the highest quality bulbs with no mold issues, and this seems to work the best.
Traditional way to cure garlic
We have also hung our garlic in bundles of 10 on ropes with about 30 bundles per rope after cleaning the garlic in the above manner. This is what has always been recommend as the best way to cure garlic especially by the "old-timers". In our region, we just had more mold issues curing this way. We see more Embellisia and Aspergillus mold on the outside of the bulb which is largely cosmetic, but it causes more time cleaning bulbs which is labor intensive and time consuming.
Can you wash garlic bulbs with water?
We have also washed our garlic bulbs and found it necessary when harvesting in heavy rains with our heavy clay soil. As long as you keep good air flow on the curing bulbs, this can be done. Although many will say absolutely don't wash your garlic bulbs, but we know many garlic growers that wash their garlic bulbs successfully. Personally, we feel it works better if we pull the lowest green leaf at harvest and cut any overly muddy roots if necessary.
If our bulbs are really wet, we may let them stay in the sun in the crates for a few hours just to dry a little, but we don't cure our garlic in the sun. Many say don't let the bulbs even see the sun and harvest with tents. Our garlic bulbs see the sun, but we don't cure in the sun as it can cause curing problems.
Curing garlic for gardeners
Harvest garlic and get the dirt off by choosing your own method of cleaning or not cleaning. Hang them or lay them in an area with good airflow. Fans are great to keep the air flow moving. Good ventilation is essential to prevent mold.
There are so many ways to cure garlic successfully, so do what works for you. See our garlic curing images for examples of ways to cure garlic from different ways we have tried to ways our growers cure garlic.
How to cure garlic