Preserving Garlic and Shallots

We harvested our garlic crop on April 24, and our shallots on June 13. After 'curing' the harvest (letting it dry for several weeks on top of the chicken coop), the alliums were ready to store. I braided the garlic and hung it up on my canning shelf and have been using it ever since; today and this weekend I'm cleaning shallots and storing a bunch of them in mesh bags, then hanging them on the same shelf. We have hundreds, if not thousands, of shallot bulbs.

However, the more I read about the shelf life of garlic and shallots, the more I think hanging them long term in this corner of my house isn't going to fly. Commercial garlic growers store this their product just above freezing; old-timers used to store it down cellar, where it was dark and cool. The inside of our house is anywhere between 70-85 in the summer, depending on if it's night, or if the air conditioning is on, or if it's only in the 80's outside and the doors are open. The 'canning corner' is probably a few degrees cooler as its the darkest part of our home, but it's nowhere near actual 'cool.' So far, the garlic is doing fine - no sprouting, no funny tastes. But that probably won't last forever.

So I started looking up ways to preserve the harvest long-term. Alliums can't safely be canned in a water bath, as they are a low-acid vegetable, and heat changes the flavor anyway. However, they can be either pickled or frozen. I'm not interested in pickling - I want the garlic and shallots to taste the way they are supposed to taste, so I can use them in recipes. So freezing it is.

Today I started what will be a many-day process. There's no way around it, it's fiddly. But I really don't want this garlic to go bad - we use a lot of it in cooking, and it's really fun to use what we grew in our garden. It's the same with the shallots. Tom is allergic to onions, but for some reason not shallots, so I substitute them in nearly every recipe.

The garlic head can be frozen whole, but you can also separate the cloves, peel them, toss them in olive oil, and freeze them in a jar for many months. This appealed to me the most (handy for cooking!), so I searched for easy ways to peel garlic without smashing it. And you're not going to believe this, but I found a way. Check out this video from Saveur. I spent the morning doing exactly what he does, and it works! However I do not have two bowls of the same size, so I used cake pans. It still worked, but I had to shake it many more times than he does. Still it was a very handy method.

This pint jar contains six heads of garlic.

I still have two braids of about 10-12 heads each; I'd like to freeze half of that, so I have a lot more to do. I figure shallots can be done the same way, so that'll be next.

The cherry tomatoes are starting to change color, so soon we'll have tomatoes! Still harvesting berries, collards, romaine, and carrots every day; hot peppers are also producing regularly right now, and there is plenty of basil and cilantro. We're hungry for tomatoes and beans, though. I'll post pictures of the garden on July 1.