Drying garlic is one of the best ways to preserve it. Preservation might become necessary if you grow your own garlic and have a bumper crop that you want to keep from spoiling. Garlic will last a long time even without drying it, but drying does add months and even years to its shelf life.
Drying is the most valuable preservation method. Other methods like pickling or freezing can change the nutrition properties of the garlic or alter its flavor. Once you dry your garlic thoroughly, you can use it as it is or grind it to make garlic powder. Here’s how to dry garlic for the best flavor.
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In a food dehydrator
The most efficient way to dry garlic is in a food dehydrator. It is designed to remove moisture from the garlic but maintain a stable temperature so that the garlic does not burn. Roughly chop or slice the garlic to maximize the efficiency of the drying process. Rough chopping will be the easier of the two options if you have a lot of garlic and a limited amount of time since it won’t require precision.
Slicing can work for smaller amounts of garlic. Even so, slicing each clove one by one will be laborious, but you can save time if you use a mandolin slicer. Slicing instead of chopping increases the garlic’s surface area and allows for more of its water content to evaporate in less time.
Spread the chopped or sliced garlic cloves on the dehydrator’s trays and set the temperature to between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Dry your garlic for between 8 and 10 hours or until the pieces are hard and brittle.
In the oven
After the food dehydrator, the oven will be the next most convenient option for drying garlic.
Most homes have an oven but not all have a food dehydrator. Ideally, you should use sliced garlic. You want it sliced as thinly as possible.
Preheat the oven to its lowest temperature setting. For many ovens, this will be about 200 degrees though some ovens will go slightly lower. Place the garlic slices flat on a cookie sheet that you then place in the oven.
Prop the oven door open a few inches. This accomplishes two things: it helps to control heat. Keeping the oven from getting too hot is important for keeping the garlic from caramelizing too much or burning. The second thing is that it allows the air in the oven to circulate. The moisture that has evaporated from the garlic slices can be replaced by dry air from outside the oven. How long it takes to dry your garlic slices out will depend on how thick the slices are, but it shouldn’t take much longer than 30 minutes.
Air-drying your garlic is the most cost-effective and energy-efficient dehydration method. As in the methods above, you should slice the garlic first. Air-drying has the benefit of eliminating the risk of burning the garlic.
You will need a cookie sheet, preferably with a grate or mesh to allow air to pass under the garlic slices. Place the sheets with the garlic in a location with dry, moving air. It should be warm as well. How long it will take to dry the garlic depends on the air circulation and temperature along with humidity. Under ideal circumstances, it will take about two weeks to air-dry garlic.