If you love garlic like I do, dehydrating is a great way to preserve it while still retaining much of its taste. It’s also pretty easy to do, especially if you have a dehydrator. Once it’s thoroughly dried, it can be rehydrated for use whenever you need it, or it can be ground up to make garlic powder. Dried garlic has a unique flavor that is quite versatile in the kitchen, and is great to have on hand, especially if you make it yourself from good quality garlic.
Now, for a bit about garlic chemistry. Some of the characteristic taste of garlic comes from a compound called allicin, which is formed whenever garlic is cut, sliced, or crushed. Allicin is part of the garlic plant’s defense mechanism, and helps the plant to protect itself from insects and fungi. The more garlic is ‘injured’, the more allicin is formed. That’s why whole cloves of garlic are milder than slices, and why putting it through a garlic press makes for a stronger flavor.
Freezing garlic destroys the allicin, and pickling changes it due to the action of the acidic vinegar. But dried garlic still tastes garlicky because it retains the components necessary to form allicin. And as soon as it is ground, crumbled, or rehydrated, the allicin is formed and the garlic aroma and flavor is there to enjoy. For ground garlic, it’s best to grind it shortly before using for maximum flavor. Like many spices, once garlic is ground it starts losing its flavor and aroma.
Dehydrating garlic is one of my strategies to use some of our homegrown varieties with a short shelf life before they start to go bad or sprout. Since getting the garlic ready for drying can be somewhat time consuming, I use a couple of gadgets that really help speed up the process. The first one is a garlic peeler. This little tube is amazing. You just put a clove of garlic in it and roll over a hard surface. The skin is loosened, and usually comes right off. It’s a definite time saver when you’re doing a lot of garlic. Of course you can also buy garlic that is already peeled.
The next time-saving gadget I use is a garlic slicer. Zyliss makes the one I am using. It works much like a cabbage slicer does, and has a removable hopper that holds the garlic slices. You can slice two or three cloves at a time with this thing (or one big fat one), and it makes slices of uniform thickness that dry about the same rate. I’m pretty good with a knife, but I’m no match for this handy gadget. And, as a bonus you get to keep all your fingers intact!
Once sliced, it’s ready for drying. Other sources may recommend using higher temperatures, but Ron Engeland, founding farmer of Filaree Farms, recommends slicing the cloves into strips and then dehydrating it at 110°F for about 3 days. I’ve found that our thinly sliced pieces dry quite a bit faster at that temperature, with most batches being ready after about 12 hours in the dehydrator. At any rate, they should be dried until they are hard and crisp all the way through, but are still light in color.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, the garlic slices can be dried in a warm room, out of direct sunlight. It will take a little longer this way, but it’s safer than using an oven, where even the lowest setting will likely be too hot. If the garlic gets brown during drying, it will be bitter. The goal is to let it dry gently, while still retaining the flavor and aroma.
Stored in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid, dried garlic should keep for at least a year. It’s best to keep it in a cool dry place, out of direct sunlight and away from heat. Homemade dried garlic is a great way to preserve your garlic harvest. It tastes wonderful, and saves space too. Give it a try sometime, and you may never go back to the store bought versions!
Wow, thanks for all the great garlic information! There for a second I thought your name was Alton Brown 🙂
I really need to get my garlic left from last year out and dry it. “The Italian” really likes the unique flavor it has.
Thanks Robin. It was fun doing the research – and the tasting!
Great posting! Do you have a recommendation for a high quality dehydrator? I’m looking to purchase one and would like to buy something that works well and will last a long time.
We got an Excalibur dehydrator several years ago and we love it! We got the 5 tray model, but wish we had the 9 tray model because we’re always filling up all the trays.
Thanks for the info! Before even scrolling down and reading the entire post, my husband and I were debating on how you got the garlic slices so thin. He guessed a mondolin, but what you really have is a mondolin just for garlic. We didn’t even know this gadget existed.
Your dehydrated garlic looks great.
I first read about the slicer on someone’s blog, and decided it would be a good idea for us. It’s one single-purpose kitchen gadget that truly fits the need!
I really want to make some dried garlic this year. I’ll probably grind a bit of it though as I’m way too lazy to grind on demand. But it will still be better than what I can buy in the grocery store.
How much does the garlic smell while its being dried? I do love the smell of garlic, but after several hours I can imagine it gets to be a bit much….
I didn’t think the aroma was too strong, but then I like the smell of garlic!
Thanks for the tips!!! fresh garlic alway’s taste’s better!!
This is great! The Zyliss is the perfect tool. Love the garlic peeler. How did I survive this long without them. The first batch is in the Excalibur now. Thanks so much for the skinny on this project!!!
I know what you mean. I use the peeler all the time. Hope your garlic turns out great!
We are in Northern California (humidity about 40%) and the first batch dried in about 12 hours at 110′. Now rereading your blog some of the slices may have been less than “hard all the way through”. The house smelled great this morning when I left. I noticed a bit of a metalic smell tonight though. Could some of it have been getting over done, you suppose?
I think the color is key to telling if it is overdone. And then the taste is the ultimate test. It is hard to tell about a metallic smell, since there is such a wide variety of garlic types and the way they taste. I also know things sometimes dry at a different rate in our dehydrator, so some could be done while others are not quite dry yet.
Appreciate the “method recipe”. I love Chinese food and the chef at my favorite restaurant told me they use dehydrated garlic slices to get fresh looking, mild garlic flavor that doesn’t knock you over!! I will try this very soon! Thanks for sharing.
I hope you give it a try, Linda. The dehydrated garlic does have a flavor all its own, and it’s just one more way to use the fantastic, nutritious garlic.
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Thanks for sharing this on Green Thumb Thursday! My favorite part about dehydrating my garlic is that then, the house smells like garlic. Yum! Hope you link up more goodies this week http://homesteadlady.com/green-thumb-thursday-73114/
I’m featuring this post on Green Thumb Thursday today! Come get your featured badge. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.
I would like to know if it would be safe to use the slices in the making of an infused oils, as it is the water content in garlic that poses the risk of botulism developing.
Also, is it possible to dry whole cloves of garlic?
I’ve never tried drying whole cloves of garlic, but I don’t see why you couldn’t. I’m no food safety expert so I won’t hazard a guess on using it for infused oil.
How many days it usually takes to dehydrate garlic?
Sliced like I do, it usually takes about 12 hours.
Thank you sir.
I find the garlic roller works best if I cut the root end off of the clove in advance.
Thanks for the tip Roy!
I thought I’d dried my garlic enough but just checked the glass jar which I put it in after drying and its sticky and squiggy so I’ve put it back in oven on really low
Will it still be ok to use? Or should I throw it away? Will it be bad
I honestly can’t say. I usually don’t take chances on iffy food. As my mom told me, “when in doubt throw it out’.
I wished we had looked for instructions before trying to dry our garlic. The cloves were placed in the dehydator and not sliced. They turned very “rubbery” and I cannot even slice one with a knife and it will not chop in my hand chopper. It truly is a big mess!!
Any ideas for me?
Sorry to hear about your garlic woes Sharyn! My only suggestion would be to dry it until it is totally dry and then grind it into garlic powder using a spice grinder. Or if you want to use it chopped, you could try soaking it for a half hour or so and then chopping it.
We have a L’quip dehydrater. We dehydrate just about every thing including whole cloves of Garlic… and they are just delishish, there is no bad breath and yes they are brown and squishy, we don’t even peel them. However we will be getting a Garlic slicer as it would be great to try the way you dehydrate your a Garlic. Thanks for the info. Colleen
What thickness does Zyliss slicer make . I got a Oxo slicer as gift but seems to cut so thin that is transparent . I am going to use dehydrator [L quip]. Thanks
The Zyliss slices the garlic about 1/16″ or 1mm thick. It’s just right for the garlic, and not paper thin at all.
Great article. Just wondering if you have some information about drying whole garlic cloves? I tried some whole garlic cloves sold in some supermarkets in Japan (at 711 in Tokyo) and it was really crispy throughout and tasted fantastic. Just wondering if a dehydrator could achieve this kind of snack?
Raymond, I would think you could use the dehydrator to dry whole cloves of garlic. It would take longer than the slices, but it should work. the slices sure get crispy when dried.
Dave, what an excellent article! Thank you. I do not want to spend a lot of money on vacuum sealing equipment, so I am curious about storing dehydrated garlic in ball jars tightly sealed and kept out of direct sunlight. Other sites have said to vacuum seal the jars. You do not advocate it, which is fine by me. What size jar do you use to store your garlic and does that make any difference?
I just put the dehydrated garlic in pint or quart mason jars for storage. You can put the also jar in the freezer, I think it help the garlic maintain quality for a longer time.
Thanks, Dave. I’ll give a linkback from my rural-living blog to your site when I run a post on our garlic. We got 1.5 quarts (in 1/2 pint jars) from our harvest last year. We cook a lot of Mediterranean dishes go through a LOT!
searched zyliss website and can not find the slicer, bummed
Amazon has it: https://www.amazon.com/Zyliss-E12330-Garlic-Slicer/dp/B004NP56YS/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF
Can you dehydrate “whole” garlic cloves?
I’ve never tried it myself, but it should work. It will just take longer than the slices do.