A plait of perfection

Garlic plait on a blue painted chair surrounded with flowering Rudbeckia triloba - © Robert Mabic/GAP Photos

Garlic plait on a blue painted chair surrounded with flowering Rudbeckia triloba – © Robert Mabic/GAP Photos

In high summer, the kitchen garden is a marvellous place to be. Harvests are tumbling through the door on a daily basis, and cooks are pulling out all the stops to preserve these ingredients as best they can. While some gluts, such as peas and sweetcorn, are ideally processed for the freezer, others are far less demanding. Onions and garlic, for example, can simply be woven into ‘ropes’ for storage in an airy shed or garage.

Step by step - Plaiting garlic 'Early Purple Wight' - © GAP Photos

Step by step – Plaiting garlic ‘Early Purple Wight’ – © GAP Photos

Anyone who has tried, untutored, to craft a rope will know that it takes a bit of practice. Here are a few hints to creating something to be proud of:

  • Grade your onion and garlic bulbs into sizes. Then, when you create your rope with the smallest at the top and the largest making up the base, it will look perfectly balanced.
  • Gently rub any loose outer skins off your bulbs so that they look attractive rather than grubby.
  • Garlic ropes are made by weaving the stems into a simple plait, so it’s crucial to give yourself enough length of stem. Don’t cut them too short on harvest or you’ll make this process very complicated for yourself!
  • Begin your garlic plait from the base up, progressively placing a line of bulbs, left and right, one above the other. Online video tutorials are invaluable for the details.
  • Onion ropes can be created using a loop of string to lock the bulbs into place. Carefully position the bulbs so that you create two pairs of opposite rows. The onions in each pair create the ideal resting place for the two bulbs sitting above.