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Curing Organic Garlic: Waiting for Perfection

It is an exciting time at the Garlic Farm: we are busy with this year’s harvest. Most of the organic garlic is already drying in the barn. Now that waiting begins.

After garlic is harvested it needs to be cured, and curing takes time. During the process of curing, the energy from the leaves goes into the bulbs as they dry. We leave the roots attached to the bulbs as they have a moderating effect on the drying rate. If you try to speed up the process of preserving garlic, by for example leaving it in direct sunlight, you can destroy your garlic crop. So we wait.

You can of course eat garlic at any stage of its development – baby garlic and scapes are both wonderful and uncured garlic has a juicy, fresh taste. But curing is essential to its longevity in the pantry. We also believe that the flavors develop and mature, like fine wine. In cured garlic, you can distinguish among the different flavors of garlic varieties. All varieties of garlic when eaten fresh at harvest have a similar, young taste – like that of  beaujolais nouveau.

Curing garlic is the process by which the outer leaf sheaths and neck tissues of the bulb are dried. Warm temperatures, low relative humidity, and good airflow are conditions needed for efficient curing…Curing is essential to obtain maximize storage life and have minimal decay.

Garlic flavor is due to the formation of organosulfur compounds when the main odorless precursor alliin is converted by the enzyme alliinase to allicin and other flavor compounds. This occurs at low rates unless the garlic cloves are crushed or damaged. Alliin content decreases during storage of garlic bulbs, but the effect of time, storage temperatures and atmospheres has not yet been well documented. (postharvest.ucdavis.edu)

The reason for this ‘lack of documentation’ is consumption. Before the hands of time can crush it, all the good garlic is usually devoured. We’ve heard that organic garlic loses its punch over time, but we never had the patience to wait that long!

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