Right now we are in the middle of the Australian garlic season. Australian garlic is seasonal and available for only a few months of the year, from around November through to the end of May.
Outside of those months most shops will only stock imported garlic.
Food miles aside, imported garlic is fumigated with the highly toxic chemical methyl bromide on arrival in Australia and is also often bleached. I'd rather go without than resort to buying imported.
I treasure foods more when I only eat them in season. That first sweet orange or crunchy apple is even more delicious after having gone without for a few months.
However, I like to enjoy garlic all year round. Dahl, hummus, lentil loaf - many of my favourite staple frugal meals just wouldn't work without garlic.
If you store garlic properly it will last until around six months after harvest. After that, it will probably sprout. I store whole bulbs in a bamboo steamer in the pantry. As long as they are in a dry, dark place at room temperature and have good air circulation they will stay fresh for months.
To ensure an all-year-round supply I freeze garlic. To freeze, I separate the cloves and place them in a container in the freezer. I don't bother peeling the cloves and then use them without thawing when I need.
Other ways of preserving garlic include drying or storing with salt or in vinegar. I like the idea of storing in vinegar.
Chopped garlic is submerged in a bottle of white or red wine vinegar and stored in the refrigerator. The vinegar and garlic is ready to use in salad dressings for up to four months.
The best place to find Australian garlic is at your greengrocer, farmers market, or direct from the farmer. Several Australian garlic growers now sell online, including Hunter Valley grower Patrice Newell (patricenewell.com.au).
So if you don't want to be tempted to buy imported garlic in a few months' time, now is the time to buy garlic.
Tricia writes at littleecofootprints.com about learning to live better with less.