A garlic braid is more than just a pretty kitchen accent—it provides a means for curing and storing garlic bulbs. Braiding the garlic stalks not only ensures the bulbs get good air circulation for proper curing, it helps to keep everything neat and tidy. What's more, the softneck varieties of garlic keep longer when the foliage is left attached.

The diagrams below illustrate a simple braiding technique. You can make a braid with as many bulbs as you wish, but a baker's dozen makes the braid a practical size to give to friends. The braid can be assembled about one week after harvesting, when the stalks are dry but still pliable.

Keep adding bulbs until they are all used, ending with a bulb in the center. To finish the braid, continue to weave the stalks without adding any more bulbs. Tie the ends with raffia or natural jute twine, add a hanging loop, and trim the ends of the stalks. Hang the braid somewhere dry, cool and away from direct sunlight, such as a garage or a cold storage room and let the bulbs cure until the outer skins feel papery. Once cured, the braid can be taken out of cold storage and hung on a kitchen wall.

 
 

To use the garlic, simply cut the bulbs off the braid as needed; the rest of the bulbs will remain securely joined. Any leftover cloves can be stored in an unglazed clay pot that has holes for ventilation.

 
– J.M.
08/03

 
 
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