My family loves garlic, and I put it in everything… well, almost! We grow more garlic each year. When I run out I buy bulbs of garlic in little mesh bags, four pounds at a time (this is the least expensive way I have found to buy garlic)… but I also like to have powdered garlic on hand. I still have a large, almost-full bottle of commercial garlic powder that I do not dare to use again because every time I have used it, it has caused me to have a violent soy reaction. Soy is not listed in the ingredients, but a company service representative finally admitted to me that any of their herbs or spices MIGHT contain a binder, and that the binder MIGHT contain soy… and that this fact MIGHT not be listed on the label.
So that is why I decided to make my own powdered garlic, and I found that it is an incredibly simple process. Here’s what I do.
Peel the cloves of garlic. I make only a small amount of garlic powder at a time, usually about six to eight bulbs, and make more when that supply begins to run low. Making small batches keeps the garlic powder VERY fresh and doesn’t turn into an overwhelming project.
Cut each clove into thin slices. I slice the garlic by hand with a sharp knife because with a small batch this takes only a few minutes. For larger batches I would probably use my food processor. Some people skip this step and dry whole cloves of garlic. I prefer slices because I think they dry more evenly.
Dry the slices. This can be done in a dehydrator or in an oven if you can keep the temperature around 135°F. I use my dehydrator during the summer, but during the winter months I dry the garlic slices on a plate in my wood stove‘s warming oven. I stir them around a couple of times each day so each piece will dry evenly, and it usually takes only two to three days for them to dry completely. I have found that one bulb of fresh garlic will yield not quite two tablespoons of dried garlic slices, and these not quite two tablespoons of dried garlic slices, when ground, will yield about half as much powdered garlic. It’s easy to tell when the garlic slices are dry because they will be brittle and will snap or break easily. If the slices are still pliable or leathery, they are not dry enough and need more drying time. Garlic that has not dried completely will not store well.
Grind the slices into a powder. Small coffee grinders or spice mills are wonderful for grinding garlic, but I have also used my large food processor and my blender. I grind the dried slices until the powder is as fine as I want it to be, and then I sift it to get out any large pieces (these can be put back in the grinder and re-ground). I don’t like to make too fine a powder. Our favorite blend is a slightly coarser grind with some larger garlic particles left in the mix. About one-eighth teaspoon of this powdered garlic is equivalent to one clove of fresh garlic.
I store my garlic powder in an airtight container in my dark spice and herb cupboard, and it keeps its great flavor for as long as it lasts. On the rare occasions when I make an extra large batch of garlic powder, I fill the airtight container and store the rest in the freezer.
There is one drawback to making your own garlic powder, though… once you start, you will never want to go back to using the commercial stuff again.