Homemade Garlic Powder [Recipe]
I absolutely love garlic as an ingredient. I use tons of the stuff – pretty much every savoury dish I prepare contains at least one clove of garlic, probably more. Garlic seems to add so much to a dish – rich aroma, warmth, luxury, a touch of heat and a depth of flavour that seems to linger on the palate long after you’ve finished eating. For me, no other seasoning comes close to garlic.
There was a time using garlic was the preserve of French cooking and having garlic breath implied you had eaten someplace “posh” the night before. Garlic was expensive to buy and few knew how to use it. In my copy of “The Vegetable Expert”, published in 1985, Dr. D.G. Hessayon tells us that garlic “has an important role in Continental but not in British cookery – it really isn’t worth growing unless you are a fan.” However, he also tells us that the culinary uses of onions “are so varied and the basic ways of employing [them] so well know that there would be no point in trying to list them.”
Things have come a long way in the last twenty years and garlic is now almost as ubiquitous as onions. It is relatively inexpensive, although still a little overpriced in supermarkets. Here in Lithuania, everyone seems to grow garlic and it is very cheaply available in the farmers’ markets. I can buy a kilo of garlic (about 20 full heads) for just €2.30.
I am also trying to grow my own this year using cloves that sprouted over the winter. I have planted about 60 cloves, which I hope will be enough to supply my garlic needs over the coming winter plus enough to use for seed next year. With any luck, I’ll never need to buy garlic again.
For all my love of garlic there are times when using fresh garlic just doesn’t suit, either because I’m in a hurry or because sliced or even finely chopped garlic won’t work in the dish. Using fresh garlic doesn’t work in burgers or meatballs – no matter now finely you chop the garlic it doesn’t seem to cook through. Raw garlic is very overpowering and not very pleasant. Equally unpleasant is burnt garlic, which has a very bitter taste. I find if I use raw garlic in burgers, little pieces of garlic around the edges crisp up or burn, ruining the delicious meaty flavour of the burger.
My solution is to use garlic powder in my mincemeat dishes. Used judiciously, it melts into the meat along with the other seasonings, adding that deep umami taste without being distinctively garlicky. As well as use in burgers and meatballs I also use garlic powder in Lithuanian koldunai, my fajita seasoning (recipe coming soon), my potato wedge seasoning, my aioli and multiple other dishes.
When I lived in Ireland I used to buy garlic powder at my local Asian market. It was quite inexpensive and tasted fine, but I always wondered what other ingredients it might contain and was slightly uncomfortable using garlic shipped half way round the world when we grew perfectly good garlic at home. A few months back I bought myself a dehydrator and one of the first things on my list to make was garlic powder. It was incredibly simple and worked out perfectly. I now have a plentiful supply of a product that I know contains nothing, but nothing, but garlic.
I appreciate that home dehydrating is a relatively new phenomenon and that few people will have a dehydrator at home. If, like me, you are trying to eliminate industrially processed foods from your diet that I can’t recommend them highly enough. They are cheap to buy and cheap to run, using very little electricity. As well as for garlic I have so far used mine for onion powder, sweet paprika, dried fruit such as pineapple, kiwi and apple, dried herbs such as rosemary and thyme, and dried citrus rinds for use in baking. I have many more uses in mind and will be experimenting over the coming months.
HOMEMADE GARLIC POWDER
I can’t really call this a recipe, but here are some guidelines for dehydrating garlic:
- To get the best value from your dehydrator, dehydrate in large batches. A four-tray dehydrator will take about 10 heads of garlic (approx 500 g) at a time.
- Slice the garlic as finely as possible. I use my food processor for this, ensuring that the slices are both thin and consistent. If you don’t have a food processor you can slice by hand. Try to ensure that the slices are as consistent as possible so that they dehydrate in the same amount of time.
- Spread the garlic in a single layer across the dehydrator trays. A small amount of overlap is ok as they will shrink as they dehydrate, but try not to have slices stacked on top of each other as this will interfere with the drying process.
- I use a temperature of 58 degrees Celsius, which is labelled as the “Fruit & Vegetables” setting on my dehydrator. The exact temperature is not important – anything from 50-60 degrees Celsius should work fine.
- Dehydrating takes quite a long time. This amount of garlic will take roughly 12-18 hours, depending on the temperature and humidity of your home and how finely you sliced the garlic. I frequently do it over two days, turning the machine off at night and back on again the next morning.
- The garlic needs to be completely dry. It should snap cleanly and easily, with no rubbery “give” whatsoever. If the garlic is not completely dry it will clog your grinder and will not keep well.
- Once you are happy that your garlic is completely dry you need to grind it into powder. I use my coffee grinder for this, half-filling the grinder in batches. You can also grind using a pestle and mortar. Because the garlic is so dry it actually grinds very easily, so it doesn’t take much strength to do it by hand.
- (Tip: to clean your grinder after grinding the garlic, first wipe it as clean as possible with a dry paper towel, the grind a small handful of rice. The rice gathers up any residual garlic and helps eliminate the garlicky smell. Throw away the powdered rice and give one final wipe with a fresh piece of kitchen paper.)
- Transfer your garlic powder to a clean, completely dry jar. It will store for several months.
- 500 g of garlic (about 10 heads) yields approximately 1 jar (185 g) of garlic powder.
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder is approximately equivalent to 3 medium cloves of garlic.
Note that onion powder can be prepared in exactly the same way. Because of their higher water content the yield from onions is lower than from garlic – it takes about 1 kilo of onions to produce 1 jar of onion powder. Like garlic powder, onion powder is incredibly useful as an ingredient and is a fantastic pantry staple.