Manage Your Homestead’s Food Supply Successfully

A LOT of just harvested garlic bulbs!

How do you process all this garlic? Dry some, crush some! Click for more info about Lehman’s super garlic press.

When you grow and raise a lot of food, one of the tricks to making it pay is managing the inventory. That means record keeping, not always my favorite thing but necessary if I am going to avoid waste.

Last month we harvested our garlic and it was phenomenal. I harvested 15o heads. That might seem like a lot but we are garlic lovers and I need enough to eat and to save for seed for next year. The biggest bulbs were pulled out immediately. The temptation is to eat those but that would leave me inferior seed. I put those heads away to plant in this month, and dry the rest to use throughout the year.

Last year my garlic sprouted very early. By February I had no more fresh garlic and needed to rely on store-bought. This year I wanted to be sure I was covered so I spent most of yesterday converting about 1/3 of my garlic into powder.

I peeled all of the cloves using a trick my son taught me. Separate the cloves (there is no need to be fussy about it) and put them in a stainless steel bowl. Cover with another bowl the same size and bang then up and down for about twenty seconds. The garlic will be perfectly peeled and any leftover skins just slip right off.

Small electric food dryer, 5 shelf

Dry chopped garlic in a food dryer like this one. At Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio, or Lehmans.com.

I then used a manual onion chopper to chop up the cloves and left them in the dehydrator overnight.

Once crispy dry, I pulverized the chopped cloves into powder. I store the majority in a glass jar with a desiccant packet and an oxygen absorber although that’s probably overkill. When my fresh garlic runs out I’ll have this lovely fresh tasting powder to fall back on.

I do something similar with extra tomatoes and onions. Dried and pulverized, both make great additions to soups and stews and prevent a lot of kitchen waste.

Week-by-Week Vegetable Garden Handbook for year round gardening

Team your notebook info with something like the Week-by-Week book, and you’ll have an efficient garden and kitchen in no time. At Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio, and at Lehmans.com.

Every homemaker needs a kitchen notebook to keep track of what’s on hand and make a plan to use it up. Keep track of what works for your family in terms of meals and ingredients. And as time goes on, you can track consumption, what you pay for produce at the farmer’s market or the grocery when you have to buy things. It’s the first step to planning your next garden, or deciding what backyard critter you should get next.

You need to know what you run out of and what inevitably feeds the pigs and chickens. Of course, that’s not really waste here,  as it comes back to us as bacon and eggs. Not a bad trade-off when you think of it.

Kathy Harrison

About Kathy Harrison

Kathy Harrison is the author of Just in Case, Another Place at the Table, and One Small Boat. She is a national spokesperson for both foster parenting and family preparedness and has appeared on The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and National Public Radio. She lives with her family in western Massachusetts.