One of the things our pioneer forefathers did well was preserving their harvest. There is no sense doing all the hard work of growing a crop if we don't preserve it to last.
I like a crop that is also pretty to look at. Those jars of jams and jellies lining my pantry sparkle as bright as any jeweled necklace to me.
Our first year with garlic, we planted the hard neck variety, not realizing you couldn't braid it. Live and learn. With over a decade of growing garlic under my belt, I've learned a lot and share it in how to plant garlic here.
My predominant garlic crop is the soft neck, specifically Inchelium Red, (here's how to harvest garlic for long-term storage). I do plant a few hard necks to use first in the fall.
After your garlic has been cured for at least two weeks in dry weather (or four weeks in wet and humid weather), it's time to get it ready for braiding. Cut off the roots and rub as much of the leftover soil off as possible.
Take the two leaves closest to the bulb and peel them back. You'll peel off the dirty outer layer. Don't remove any more skin as this helps lock in the flavor.
Now take three bulbs of garlic, bulb side at the top with the stems hanging down. Tie them together near the bulb. This is the start of your braid. Take a bulb and lay it on the center stem and add the stem to it. Now cross over your right side stem.
Take a bulb, place it to the right of your center bulb, pulling the stem down the center. Cross over the left stem to the center. Place a bulb on the left side of the center bulb and pull the stem to the center. Cross over top the original center stems.
Always add the new bulb stem to the center of your braid.
Repeat this process to the end. Once all bulbs are in place, braid the stems (they'll be quite a handful) into a braid and secure with twine. Cut off the remaining stems so just your braid is showing.
Now hang it up in the kitchen for easy access and a gorgeous piece of decoration.
Store the remaining braids out of direct light, a back pantry is wonderful, ideally in temps between 60 and 65 degrees F with low humidity.
Do you have a favorite crop or harvest you like to put on display? Do you have a favorite variety of garlic?