I like good problems. For example, having such a bountiful harvest that you need to find a way to preserve garlic in the late winter when it begins to sprout in your pantry is a good problem, is it not?!
Thankfully, I had just such a problem the last couple years and learned there are many ways to still keep the garlic going strong so there is enough to last all the way up until summer when the scapes can be used in the kitchen instead of the cloves.
When someone came in from the barn recently and told me there was a braid of garlic I had forgotten about which was sprouting, I brought it in and sorted out the good, firm cloves from the sprouted cloves. I’m still using the good cloves while I can, but the sprouted ones I further sorted out according to how far gone they were. I took the ones that had a longer stem growing, minced them, and packed them in olive oil. And the ones that were just starting to sprout I chopped and packed in raw honey for medicinal purposes. I don’t know if it was the garlic in honey, the echinacea tincture, or the elderberry and I wasn’t about to start eliminating to find out which one, but when I came down with something earlier this winter I took advantage of all 3 of those members of my homegrown, homemade medicine supply to have me back in business within a couple days. (They actually stopped it in its tracks and then within those couple days I was as good as new!)
10 Ways to Preserve Garlic Before It’s Too Late
• Plant It
You could always still plant the garlic. It is trying to grow after all. If you’re able to get it in the ground, this could be a great solution, but if you live in an area like ours here in Ohio it could be risky business to count on this plan most years. Our ground usually goes from rock solid to a foot deep of mud until it’s too late to plant the garlic anyway. But the last couple early springs here have been unusually mild and the ground surprisingly workable so this could be an idea to try. “They” say that your garlic won’t be as productive as fall planted garlic so make sure you fertilize it regularly with a natural fertilizer (I like to use this one) until about mid-June so that it still grows well.
• Garlic Pills in Raw Honey
This is such an easy way to preserve garlic and if I already have enough for food to make it until the scapes are available to be used in recipes, this is how I’ll preserve extra or sprouting garlic. Simply cut the peeled cloves into “pill” sized chunks, pack them in a mason jar, and cover them with raw honey. Refrigerate it or not. I usually don’t until it’s summer and then since we (hopefully) won’t be needing it again till fall, I’ll tuck it away in the back of the fridge. When we have an illness in our family, we will swallow the “pills” 3-4 times a day to boost our immune systems.
When I sort through the garlic at harvest time, I make my garlic powder with damaged or defective cloves so I still have more than enough garlic powder in the early spring, but this is one way to ensure you have strong garlic flavor for all of your culinary needs. Since my garlic supply is now seriously dented and what’s left is obviously starting to sprout, I’m just starting to dig into my garlic powder supply.
• Garlic in Olive Oil
When garlic powder just won’t cut it, I like to have a half pint or two of garlic packed in olive oil in the refrigerator. Simply mince the cloves (I use a blender if I have a lot) and stir in enough olive oil (about a ratio of 2 parts oil to 1 part garlic) to completely coat the bits of garlic. You can store it in the freezer. Whenever a recipe calls for garlic, spoon out some garlic and use it just like you normally would. You can put it in the refrigerator for a very short term, but there is an increased risk of botulism when garlic is stored in oil and not refrigerated because it is a low acid food in an environment (oil) with no available oxygen. (Source)
How do you preserve garlic when it’s starting to sprout in the spring?