Making Garlic Ropes
Making garlic ropes is, perhaps, the most popular way of drying garlic, and is a lot easier than you think! I offer step by step instructions with photographs to help explain how to braid garlic ropes. Homemade garlic ropes make excellent gifts for your chef friends and make popular decorative accents in your kitchen, pantry or dining room.
9 or more freshly harvested garlic bulbs, with their tops pliable enough to bend and the long tops still intact
Rubber bands (optional)
Making the Rope:
Have all of your materials with you when start braiding the garlic to make it easier. The first one will take a little practice, but, as they say, practice makes perfect! Before you know it you will be making beautiful garlic braids that you will be proud to hang in your home or to give as a gift.
Arrange three of the garlic bulbs, laying one straight up and criss-crossing the other bulbs to rest on the first bulb. Secure the bulbs with twine and tie it securely around the stems of the garlic. A rubber band comes in handy to keep the stems together and will withdraw as the stalks dry to keep a tighter grip on the bulbs, but, are not very attractive, or environmentally responsible, so I use twine. As the stems shrink, I tighten the twine. One way to minimize the shrinkage is to use hard-neck garlic bulbs. The stalk is more rigid and you will have to work with the stems by gently bending the stems to limber them up to make braiding easier.
The twine that you cut for this should be able to tie the three original bulb stems and have enough left over the secure the fourth stem. Lay the next (4th) garlic bulb in the middle between the two top bulbs and secure with the ends of the twine. The long stem should align with the bottom stem of the original bundle. This adds a strong foundation for the rest of the braid, so take your time and get it right. If you are using a rubber band, make sure that it is tight. Slip the 4th garlic bulb's stem through one of the loops of the rubber band around the stalks to secure this stem. When I use a rubber band, I usually cover the band with twine to make the braid more natural.
Lay the next two bulb stems across the verticle stalk in a criss-cross pattern, aligning the stems with the other two respective stalks.. Take your time to arrange the bulbs in an attractive fashion and working the stems to limber them up for a smooth braid.
Start the braiding process, taking your time bending the stalks...2 per braid section...making one complete braid section. If it makes it easier for you, you can tie the stems with twine to secure the braid sections while you add the next three bulbs. It makes the braid more rigid and keeps the braid together better when the stalks dry. Tie it neatly behind the stalk so that you can adjust the tightness as the stalks shrink.
Add the next three bulbs, aligning the stalks for the next braid section. Again, if you like, you can secure these new bulbs with twine as well, again, allowing for adjustment in the back of the braid. Braid one or two complete passes. Continue braiding new garlic bulbs and repeating the above process until all of your garlic bulbs are used. Braid the stems as far as you can and secure the ends with a rubber band or twine.
Cut a long section of twine and wrap it around the bottom of the stems where the bulbs meet and tie it decoratively above the bulbs. Gently encourage the stalks into a neat braid and trim any "loose" stems that might appear...just when you thought you had them all!...as close to the braid as possible.
Trim the tops into a neat crop and, if you wish, trim the fine roots at the ends of the bulbs to make them neat.