Step 1: Grow garlic.
If you found this post, chances are that you already know how to grow your own garlic. But in case I am making a false assumption, here is a link to a GREAT web page that explains how to grow garlic in northern climates: Michigan Garlic Farm: How To Grow Garlic. This is the page that I used to learn how to grow garlic. It is excellent.
I grew a few varieties of garlic in the garden this year including: elephant garlic (actually a form of leek), 'Music', 'Northern Jewel', 'Purple Italian' and 'German Mountain'. They all grew well.
|Step 2: Harvesting.|
It is time to harvest garlic when most of the leaves have turned brown. In Michigan, this is generally some time in July. Harvest garlic by gently lifting it out of the ground with a spading fork or shovel. Place the fork several inches from the base of the plant, dig down as far as you can, and gently lift up. The garlic should pop up with the soil. Try not to chop through the garlic with your shovel. Also, do not pull it out by the stem without digging first, as this could damage the garlic. It will not store as well if it is damaged.
|Step 3: Curing the garlic.|
Do NOT clean the garlic with water. Do NOT trim the leaves or the roots off yet. Gently remove the largest clumps of dirt from the cloves, but otherwise allow them to remain "dirty." Hang the garlic together with string in groups of 3-5, in a well ventilated area until the stems dry out completely. You will know it is finished curing when the stems and leaves have turned 100% brown. This generally takes anywhere from 2-4 weeks. This step is important because it allows the outer peel around the bulb to dry out and to protect the inner clove. It prevents the clove from rotting.
Do NOT clean the garlic with water. Trim the stems so that about 6 inches (12 cm) of stem remain above the bulb. Cut the roots short with a scissors, but do not cut into the bulb itself. Dust off the outer coating of dirt gently with your fingers. If you wish, you can remove the top-most layer of peel around the bulb, but do not remove all of the peel. The more of the outer skin you leave on, the more protected the inner cloves will be.
|Steps 7 & 8|
Step 6: Cut a length of string about 3-4 ft long (1m).
Step 7: Tie a slip knot near the end of the string, and tighten it around the stem of the largest garlic clove. If you don't know how to tie a slip knot, watch this: Slip Knot Video.
Step 8: Tie a second slip knot about 1 inch (2-3 cm) above the first knot. Keeping the loop lose, pull it over the end of the stem of the 1st garlic clove.
|Step 9: Looping in the 2nd garlic.|
|Step 9: Tightening string.|
|Steps 10 & 11: Loop around all the stems & tighten.|
Step 10: Make another slip knot about 1 inch (2cm) above the 2nd knot. Place the loop around the stems of the 2 pieces of garlic in the bunch.
Step 11: Place the stem of the third garlic clove through the loop, next to the stems of the other two connected pieces of garlic. Tighten the loop and double knot it to hold it in place.
|Step 12: Stagger the positions of the garlic cloves in relation to each other.|
Step 12: Continue adding garlic cloves in this same way until the are all used up. Stagger the cloves as you add them so that each newly added clove is on the opposite side of the one previously added to the group.
|Step 12: Continue looping & knotting.|
Step 13: When you have finished adding all of your garlic bulbs to the bunch, double knot the final knot. Then, trim the garlic stems so that they are all even at the ends.
|Steps 13 & 14: Cut the garlic stems so they are even. Make a loop to hang the chain from.|
Step 14: Tie a loop at the end of the string from which to hang the garlic chain.
Step: 15: Hang the garlic in a cool dry place where you will be able to enjoy looking at it, and will remember to use it for cooking.
HAVE FUN AND ENJOY!! :)