BACKYARD BLISS | Preserving garlic: making the best of a rotten situation

BEST OF THE BAD: What do you do when you have a big bowl of garlic which needs eating right now ... preserve it of course. Pictures: Hannah Moloney.
BEST OF THE BAD: What do you do when you have a big bowl of garlic which needs eating right now ... preserve it of course. Pictures: Hannah Moloney.

Good Life Permaculture

We've had a few issues with our garlic crop over the years.

One such year, after a beautiful and abundant start to the season, things turned grey towards the end with garlic rust swiftly creeping in, followed later by a few specks of the dreaded white root rot. Booo!

As a result, we pulled our crop a few weeks early to salvage what we could, dried and sorted it into what needed eating now and the stuff that could hang out for the year.

Which brings us to the situation of what do you do with a big bowl of garlic which needs eating right now.

Preserve it of course.

One of my favourite ways of doing this also happens to be dead easy - a recurring theme in things I'm attracted to.

All you need is garlic, tamari and some clean jars.

Preserving garlic is also a fantastic opportunity to practice patience, which is not a naturally occurring tendency for me.

Put some nice music on or a radio podcast, get comfy and start peeling garlic.

We were actually happily surprised by the size of most of our garlic, we ended up cutting off their tops as they were riddled with rust and we hated the thought of it contaminating us, our house, everything. We're just a touch paranoid.

Even though we'd been drying the rot-affected garlic out for around a month, it was still uncomfortably moist and gross directly beneath the areas of the white root rot.

The fear was that the rot would slowly but surely destroy the whole garlic corm. And so the preserving commenced.

Once the peeling is done, enter tamari.

Tamari originated from Japan and is the liquid by-product from making miso (fermented soy beans).

It is not soy sauce, but does taste similar, i.e. salty - it's also gluten free (unlike soy sauce).

Due to its high salt content it's a brilliant preserving agent and incredibly tasty.

Simply fill the jar to the top, covering all the garlic cloves, I've found that it doesn't matter if the top layer sticks its head out, so you can relax about that.

Finally, just pop on a lid and store on your shelves out of direct sunlight.

It's best if you leave them for around six months before opening, so they get super flavoursome, but they will still taste amazing after three months.

What you end up with is two tasty products, the tamari can be used in cooking and is infused with garlic flavour - it's so good.

And of course the garlic cloves can be chopped up and used fresh or in cooking.

You can literally store your preserved garlic indefinitely - in the past I've had jars of this last years.

All we can say is, thanks goodness for age old, easy preserving techniques, they're life (and food) savers.

  • Hannah Moloney and Anton Vikstrom are the founders of Good Life Permaculture, a permaculture landscape design and education enterprise that creates resilient and regenerative lives and landscapes. Their approach to life centres around the concept of radical homemaking and they place home and community at the core of everything they do in order to create a good life.