Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Prepper’s Pantry: Garlic

Garlic is one of the staples of life, akin to water or oxygen... or at least it is to some of us. A member of the allium genus along with onions, shallots, leeks, and chives, garlic has been used as a food seasoning and folk medicine for thousands of years.

Growing Garlic
Garlic is fairly easy to grow and can can be grown year round in many areas, especially if planted indoors. While garlic can be started from seed, most garlic these days is grown from cloves. Larger cloves are preferred for planting as they are more likely to survive and produce another bulb. 

The best soil for garlic is loose, dry, and well-drained. Mixing sand with regular garden soil gives good results; the actual ratio will depend on climate, rainfall averages, and other variables, but generally no more than one part sand to four parts soil is recommended.

If in a colder climate and planting outdoors, it's best to plant the cloves a month before the first hard freeze so the roots can get established, then let the plants over-winter in the ground. They should be ready for harvest in late spring.

Garlic is generally divided into two main varieties, Hardneck and Softneck.

  • Hardneck garlic is more robust and is more likely to survive in colder climates and produces larger cloves and bulbs. It can be easier to peel and many people consider hardneck to have a more vibrant flavor. Some of the hundreds of named examples of hardneck garlic include: Italian, French, German Red, German White, Romanian Red, Spanish Roja, Ukrainian, Yugoslavian, and Music.
  • Softneck garlic prefers warmer climates and both bulbs and cloves are smaller, though there tend to be more cloves per bulb. Because they don't have the hard center stalk, softneck garlic is preferred for garlic braids. It also stores better than its hardneck cousin, potentially lasting up to twelve months in ideal storage conditions. Some varieties of softneck garlic that may be found include: Inchelium Red, California Softneck, California Early, Italian Loiacono, and Silver White.

More information on growing garlic can be found on the Cornell Cooperative Extension website.

Storing & Preserving
Once harvested, garlic is hung upside down in a cool, well-ventilated area for about two weeks. After this time has passed, the stalks are cut off and the garlic is stored in a dark, well-ventilated location that's between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Garlic can also be preserved in vinegar, either through hot water canning/pickling or in the refrigerator. Be cautious if storing garlic in olive oil; to avoid botulism, the garlic needs to be acidified in vinegar to minimize bacteria or thoroughly dried first. Even so, garlic stored in oil should be used within a month or so to minimize the bacterial risk.

Rosh Hashanna Chicken Soup
While there are a tremendous number of garlic recipes, Rosh Hashana (New Year on the Jewish calendar) has just begun, so here's my family recipe for chicken soup, a.k.a. Jewish Penicillin.


  • Celery – 10 stalks + leaves
  • Garlic to taste
  • 2 onions
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 parsnips
  • Parsley (fresh)
  • Dill (fresh)
  • 1 Plum tomato
  • Whole chicken
  • Salt and pepper
  • Gizzards
  • Water to cover
  • Thin Egg Noodles


  1. Carefully wash the chicken. 
  2. Remove the giblets, saving the gizzard for the soup. 
  3. Cut the chicken up and place in very large pot. 
  4. Cover with water and bring to a boil. 
  5. Skim the water occasionally and boil a total of 1 hour covered.
  6. Cut up the veggies. 
  7. Tie the carefully washed herbs in bunches so it is easier to remove them.
  8. Add the veggies to the pot and cook for another hour while covered.
  9. Remove veggies and chicken from soup and skim off as much fat as possible. 
  10. After you take the chicken and the veggies out, strain the soup through a very fine strainer. I usually do this twice, and the second time I put a piece of paper towel in the strainer to make it really clear. 
  11. Refrigerate the soup. Before heating to serve, skim off any hardened fat.
  12. Cut up the chicken and remove from the bone. Set aside to serve in the soup.
  13. Cut up carrots and parsnips to serve in soup.
  14. Cook the egg noodles, separately then add before serving.
  15. Serve hot with some fresh Challah bread on the side.

Always keep in mind the old saying: You don't measure garlic. You keep adding it until the spirits of your ancestors whisper "Enough, child."

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