How to Braid Garlic for Storage

Learn to braid garlic for storage and have flavorful — and beautiful — homegrown garlic at your fingertips well into winter.

July 15, 2020
Braiding garlic bulbs and leaves for storage

How to Braid Garlic for Storage

Braiding homegrown garlic is easy as well as pretty and an efficient use of storage space.

Photo by: Derek R. Trimble

Derek R. Trimble

A bumper crop of garlic in summer can mean homegrown garlic for cooking through winter and beyond. Braiding is a traditional method of storing garlic that's both functional and decorative. It's easy once you get the hang of it, and it works for onions, too. Note: Braiding works best using softneck garlic varieties instead of hardneck varieties. Properly dried, cured and stored bulbs can last for about six months.

Materials + Tools

  • softneck garlic, leaves intact
  • stiff-bristle brush, such as a vegetable brush
  • scissors or pruners
  • twine

Dry Garlic

After harvesting your garlic in midsummer, set it in a cool, covered, well-ventilated spot out of direct sunlight to dry for several days. A shed, garage or covered deck or patio are good options. Tip: Before drying, remove large clumps of dirt, but don’t fully clean the garlic, and be sure to leave the papery exterior intact.

Photo by: Derek R. Trimble

Derek R. Trimble

Clean Dried Garlic

After drying for several days, before braiding or any other method of curing, brush off excess dried dirt and clip back the roots. Keep skin and bulbs intact. Note: Do not store any bulbs with cloves that look damaged; instead, use those quickly instead of storing for later.

Remove Loose Dirt

Derek R. Trimble

Clip Off Roots

Derek R. Trimble

Photo By: Derek R. Trimble

Photo By: Derek R. Trimble

Prepare to Braid

Working on a flat surface, lay the garlic with the bulbs away from you and the leaves toward you; start with the largest bulbs first, working up the braid to the smallest.

Photo by: Derek R. Trimble

Derek R. Trimble

Make an X With Two Bulbs

To start your braid, lay two bulbs across one another, with the leaves making an X just above the bulbs. For these instructions, place the leaves from the bulb on the left under the leaves from the bulb on the right.

Photo by: Derek R. Trimble

Derek R. Trimble

Add a Third Bulb

Lay a third bulb on top of the first two, with the leaves coming down the center of the X.

Photo by: Derek R. Trimble

Derek R. Trimble

Tie Three Together

Tie the first three bulbs together with a piece of twine just above the bulbs. Trim off excess twine.

Photo by: Derek R. Trimble

Derek R. Trimble

Add a Fourth Bulb

Now, lay a fourth bulb over the first three on the left side. Places the leaves of the fourth bulb over the leaves already in the center.

Photo by: Derek R. Trimble

Derek R. Trimble

Start Braiding

Take the leaves on the bottom of the stack — they will be on your right — and braid them over the leaves in center, replacing them as the center leaves and moving the previous center leaves to the right.

Braid In More Bulbs

Continue this method of adding garlic bulbs, always placing the new leaves in the center, then taking the leaves from the bottom of the stack to braid over the ones in the center, making them the new center leaves.

Keep Braiding

This sounds more complicated than it is — once you get the hang of it, it’s as easy as braiding hair or rope!

Braid Leaves and Hang to Cure

When you’ve braided all your bulbs together — or as many as you’d like in this particular braid — continue braiding the remaining leaves. Create a hanging loop with the leaves and then secure it with twine; or, secure leaves with twine and create a hanging loop with the twine. Hang in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight to fully cure for long-term storage. Pick bulbs off the braid as you need them.

Braid Leaves

Derek R. Trimble

Secure With Twine

Derek R. Trimble

Photo By: Derek R. Trimble

Photo By: Derek R. Trimble

This view shows the back of the braid, which should lie fairly flat against a wall when hanging.

Photo by: Derek R. Trimble

Derek R. Trimble

This view shows the back of the braid, which should lie fairly flat against a wall when hanging.

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