Saving Seed Garlic: Storing and Selecting the Best Cloves


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Garlic is an indispensable ingredient in many cuisines around the world. It is not only valued for its flavor but also for its health benefits. Garlic bulbs, made up of individual cloves, can be stored for a long time if properly cured and stored. This article will discuss the best practices for storing garlic and selecting the best cloves for planting the following year.

Storing Garlic

Proper storage is key to keeping garlic fresh and flavorful for an extended period. Garlic bulbs should be cured and stored in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. The storage area should have good airflow and moderate humidity levels, ideally between 60-65% relative humidity.

Select a place with minimal light and plenty of airflow for the perfect curing process. The garlic should be left to dry for four weeks until its outer wrappers become papery and brittle. To preserve flavor and guard against moisture or pests, make sure not to remove this protective layer from the cloves too soon!

Upon the garlic bulbs completing their curing process, they should be stored in permeable bags or containers such as mesh bags, wire baskets, and well-ventilated boxes. To prevent infections and keep air circulation flowing freely, it is vital to avoid plastic packaging. Brown paper baggies or cardboard cartons are perfect for storing cured garlic heads!

If you want to preserve your garlic for the longest time possible, keeping it in a temperature range between 55-65°F (13-18°C) is best. Under these conditions, your garlic can last from six to eight months! Depending on the variety of cloves and storage methods used, however, this could be less or more than anticipated. To ensure extra freshness, separate each clove from its bulb and keep them inside an airy container with ample ventilation.

Longest Storing Garlic

Some varieties of garlic are known for their long shelf life. These varieties can be stored for up to a year in the right conditions. These include Purple Stripe, Rocambole, and Porcelain garlic varieties.

Selecting large, healthy bulbs with firm and tight skins is important to store garlic for an extended period. Avoid any bulbs that have soft spots, mold, or bruises. Fresh bulbs bruise easily and should be handled with care.

Saving Garlic Stock

To save garlic stock for planting the following year, it is important to select the best cloves. The best cloves are large, plump, and have firm skins. They should be free from any disease or damage.

Seed garlic should be kept in a cool and dry place until planting. Delayed sprouting can be achieved by storing the seed garlic below 40°F (4°C) for a few weeks before planting.

Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are the curly, green shoots from the garlic bulb. They should be removed from the plant when they appear, as they can divert energy from bulb development. However, garlic scapes can also be eaten with a mild flavor.

Planting Garlic

Plant garlic cloves a few weeks before the first frost for optimal growth and cultivation. Insert them into well-drained soil with their pointed end facing up, flat ends down, four to six inches apart, and two inches deep. This will help ensure healthy roots and provide you with delicious garlic bulbs!

Retaining moisture and protecting against weeds? You can have both – keep the soil moist but not saturated, then cover it with a layer of organic matter like mulch.

Garlic Harvest

When the variety and climate conditions are just right in midsummer, garlic bulbs will reach their peak harvest readiness. You’ll know they’re ready by looking for yellowing leaves – but don’t delay too long! Once the foliage completely dries out, it’s far too late to pull that bulb from its soil home; you must act quickly to prevent premature crop maturation.

After carefully loosening the soil surrounding the plant with a garden fork or trowel, you can delicately collect your harvest. Make sure not to damage any of the bulbs during this process! Once pulled from their homes in the soil, let them dry out in an airy spot for several weeks until they become papery and dried.

Curing and Storage

After the garlic is harvested and dried, preserving it correctly will allow you to enjoy its flavor longer. This can be achieved through proper curing and storage – just as we discussed before. Not only does this extend the shelf life of your garlic, but it also ensures that they remain fresher and tastier for much longer.

Freeze Garlic

Garlic can also be frozen to extend its shelf life. To freeze garlic, peel the cloves and place them in a freezer-safe container or bag. The garlic can be frozen for up to six months.

However, freezing can affect the texture and flavor of garlic. Frozen garlic is best used in cooked dishes rather than raw applications.

Good Air Flow

Air circulation is essential for proper garlic storage. Good air flow helps prevent the buildup of moisture and mold and bacteria growth.

Garlic bulbs should be stored in well-ventilated containers or bags to ensure good air flow. Mesh bags or wire baskets are ideal for storing garlic as they allow for proper air circulation.

However, avoiding containers with sealed lids or plastic bags is important, as they can restrict airflow and lead to spoilage.

Relative Humidity

The relative humidity levels in the storage area are also important for proper garlic storage. Garlic bulbs should be stored in an area with moderate humidity levels, ideally between 60-65% relative humidity.

High humidity levels can cause garlic to sprout prematurely or develop mold and bacteria. On the other hand, low humidity levels can cause garlic to dry out and lose flavor.

Shelf Life

The shelf life of garlic is contingent on its variety, storage conditions, and curing processes. To attain the optimal expiration date, store properly-cured garlic for up to eight months – yet remain aware that spoilage or sprouting can occur at any point. Therefore, check your bulbs regularly; if you notice soft spots or signs of germination, use them immediately!

Cardboard Box

Use cardboard boxes to ensure they are well-ventilated for proper garlic storage to promote good air circulation. Furthermore, the bulbs should be placed in a single layer for optimal preservation – this will also help avoid crushing or bruising.

It is essential to prevent packing garlic in waxed containers or those that have already stored other fresh produce, as these may contain mold and bacteria which can contaminate the cloves.

Side Shoot Sprouting

To avoid the nuisance of witches’ brooms, commonly referred to as side shoot sprouting, selecting garlicky bulbs that are in pristine condition and storing them under ideal conditions is essential. Such steps can help prevent these small undeveloped shoots from emerging from the main bulb.

Mesh Bags

To keep garlic bulbs fresh and prevent crushing or bruising, mesh bags are an ideal storage solution. You must be careful not to overfill the bag as it can lead to air restriction and spoilage of the product. Store them in a cool, dry area out of direct sunlight for best results.


The proper storage and selection of garlic cloves must be considered to keep garlic fresh, flavorful, and lasting longer. For best results, store your garlic in a cool place away from direct sunlight with adequate airflow and moderate humidity. These tips will extend its shelf life and prevent premature maturation and mold or bacteria growth.

Select large, healthy bulbs with intractable skins to get the most out of growing your garlic. Be sure to discard any cloves showing signs of damage or disease for a successful harvest that will provide flavor and nutrition all year!





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