Field to Fork: Garlic

(FN2039, August 2021)
Publication File:

Garlic is easy to grow and adds flavor to recipes with few calories. It can be frozen or dried for later use.

Lead Author
Lead Author:
Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., food and nutrition specialist
Other Authors

Alexandra Lee, NDSU dietetic intern
Horticulture content reviewed by Tom Kalb, horticulture specialist

Web only
Publication Sections
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Garlic best grows in rich, well-drained soil. It should be planted after the first frost dusts the ground (late September to early October). Place the basal point (the point where the clove attaches to the bulb) down and the pointed end up.

Place each clove 6 to 8 inches apart in rows 18 to 30 inches apart. Cover with 2 inches of soil and 6 inches of mulch. Be sure to not remove the mulch in the spring; it helps control weeds, hold moisture and provide nutrients as it decomposes.


Harvest the flower buds (scapes) when they curl in June. They are mild in flavor and great in stir fries. Harvest the bulbs in July when the lower leaves turn brown.

See the NDSU Extension publication “From Garden to Table: Garlic!” (FN584) for more information about growing and harvesting garlic.


Store hardneck garlic in a cool, dry, dark, well ventilated area and in a ventilated object such as a mesh bag for roughly six months. Avoid storing your garlic in the refrigerator because temperatures around 40 F can cause sprouting. If the cloves begin to shrivel or the bulb begins to sprout, that does not necessarily mean the garlic is bad, but the garlic is no longer at its peak.


Although garlic is a vegetable, we commonly use it as an herb to add flavor to most foods. You can add garlic to many salad dressings, marinades, sauces, vegetables, vinaigrettes, soups, stews and meat dishes.

To peel the cloves properly before use, press firmly on the clove with the flat side of a knife until the clove and skin crack; the skin can be removed easily. Garlic can be prepared by chopping, mincing or crushing. The finer the mince, the more flavor is released. You can preserve garlic by freezing or drying.

Freezing: Garlic can be frozen by placing the whole bulb, individual cloves or peeled, chopped cloves in a single layer in a plastic freezer bag or jar. Or try “flash freezing” whole or chopped cloves on a parchment-lined tray, place in freezer and then seal frozen garlic in a jar or freezer bag. Use grozen garlic in three to four months for best flavor.

Drying: You should use only fresh, firm, nonbruised garlic cloves for drying. Start by peeling the cloves individually and then cut them in half vertically. You can use a dehydrator at 140 degrees for two hours, then reduce the heat to 130 degrees and continue drying for four to six hours or until the cloves are brittle. Store the dried garlic in an air-tight container at room temperature or in the freezer.


One clove of raw garlic has 4 calories, 0.2 g protein, 0 g fat, 1 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber and less than 1 mg sodium. Garlic also provides a small amount of potassium, calcium and phosphorus.

garlic bulbs
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Key to abbreviations

c. = cup
tsp. = teaspoon
Tbsp. = tablespoon
oz. = ounce
lb. = pound(s)
g = gram
mg = milligram

Roasted Garlic

Preheat oven to 400 F. Peel outer layers of garlic but leave the bulb intact.

Cut ¼ to ½ inch off the top of garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap with aluminum foil.

Place directly in the oven or on baking sheet. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool before squeezing garlic out of bulb. Use in recipes or as a spread.

Mashed Potatoes With Cauliflower and Roasted Garlic

1 bulb roasted garlic (8 to 10 cloves)
1 large head cauliflower
2½ lb. red potatoes, washed and cubed
¼ c. olive oil
¼ c. butter
¼ c. half and half cream (or regular cream)
Seasonings to taste (white pepper, black pepper, chives, salt, paprika)

Roast the garlic as described. Rinse, peel and cube potatoes. (You can leave the peeling on, if desired.) Rinse and roughly chop cauliflower. Place potatoes and cauliflower in a large stockpot and fill with enough water to boil them. Bring water to a boil and boil consistently until potatoes and cauliflower are fork-tender. Drain in colander.

Add all other ingredients to stockpot, warm, then add potato-cauliflower mixture. Mash.

Makes 12 servings. Without added seasonings, each serving has 170 calories, 9 g fat, 3 g protein, 20 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber and 70 mg sodium.

Garlic and Herb Butter

½ c. softened butter
2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley, basil or herb of choice
½ tsp. minced garlic
2 to 3 tsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients and form into a roll. Wrap tightly and freeze up to six months. Slice and use as desired to top fresh bread, corn on the cob, grilled steak or other foods.

Makes eight servings. Each serving has 100 calories, 0 g carbohydrate, 12 g fat, 0 g fiber and 0 mg sodium.

Funding for this publication was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service through grant AM190100XXXXG028. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.

For more information on this and other topics, see www.ndsu.edu/extension