How Many Cloves In A Head Of Garlic?

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 12/05/21 •  8 min read

How Many Cloves In A Head Of Garlic? When recipes call for fresh garlic they generally refer to the quantity needed in terms of the number of cloves. Cloves are the small segments within the bulb that are used individually. But if you need to go shopping, how many bulbs of garlic do you buy? 

The amount of cloves in a head of garlic depends on the garlic’s size. The average head of garlic that is sold commercially has around 10 cloves with ¼ of a head of garlic equating to 2 to 3 cloves. Larger bulbs can contain up to 12 to 14 cloves in some cases. 

The alternative to using fresh garlic bulbs is to use mince or powdered garlic which usually doesn’t give as strong a flavor but is quicker to use as the is no need to peel, slice, or crush the clove. If you are using minced garlic 1 teaspoon is equivalent to 1 clove. For powder garlic ¼ of teaspoon equal one clove of fresh garlic.

How to Peel Garlic and How to Mince Garlic

To obtain skinless garlic, you must remove the stem and bruise it so that the skin pulls away from the clove. To mince garlic there are two main ways people do it, the first is to slice and dice the garlic finely using a knife which can be a little laborious. The alternative method is to use a garlic press which is much faster as it can crush a couple of garlic cloves at once.

Additionally, some people don’t even bother to peel the garlic when using a garlic press however I find that if you do that you need to clean the press before it can be used again.

Can You Use Store Brought Garlic To Grow Your Own Garlic At Home? 

It is possible to grow garlic using bulbs from the store, however, you will get a far better result if you purchase specifically grown seed stock which can be purchased from a garden center. 

The reason for this is that garlic purchased at a grocery store is likely to be old and is, therefore, more likely to be dried out. This is because grocery stores tend to put the product on display and wait for customers to purchase it, instead of directly bringing it to the customers.

Additionally, garlic purchased from the grocery store in most cases is chemically treated with a sprout inhibitor called chlorpropham that extends the shelf life of the garlic. The garlic found in grocery stores also usually doesn’t have as high a disease resistance as seed garlic.

As such we highly recommend purchasing seed garlic from the garden center. The place we recommend going to is seeds now because it has a wide range and is the lowest-cost source of garlic bulbs. 

Grow Your Own Food At Home

At seeds now there are two types of garlic offered hard neck garlic and soft neck garlic. Soft neck garlic is what is found in the grocery stores and is favored for a few reasons. They generally peel easier and have bigger cloves than the hard neck garlic and they have a longer shelflife. 

I recommend that you purchase soft neck garlic mainly because the long shelf life makes it easy to produce enough garlic every year to fulfill my family’s needs and also have enough garlic to replant the following year. To see a trial conducted between store brought garlic and seed garlic what the video below by Charles Dowding. 

How To Grow Garlic

Garlic is an incredibly easily vegetable to grow it generally requires very little effort apart from initially planting the garlic and harvesting it at the end of the season. 

When planting garlic it can be done in either Autumn or Spring, but when planted in the spring you get a much smaller bulb that does form multiple cloves. For garlic to form multiple cloves, the bulb needs to be vernalized. This process occurs when the bulbs experience the stress of a period of cold weather, causing them to divide into individual cloves. 

The creation of cloves is necessary to provide clove stock for the subsequent year of planting. However, if the cloves were planted in the springtime, then the vernalization process will not occur, and that means the resulting bulb only has a single clove. To read more about how to manage planting garlic in the spring check out this article

Once the garlic is either purchased or selected from the existing garlic you have for planting, you will need to separate the garlic bulb into individual parts. Divide up the cloves and remove any individual cloves that are smaller in size than an average clove as it will not produce a reasonable sized bulb. 

The cloves should be planted at a depth of approximately 1 inch (2 to 3 cm). The pointed end should be facing upward and the plate of the clove must be sitting on the base plate at the base of the clove. The spacing for cloves should be at least 5 to 10 inches (10 to 20 cm) apart.

When Should Garlic Be Planted In The Fall?

As mentioned above the time when planting can be done is either Spring or Fall, but the Fall is definitely preferred. However, sowing in fall can be tricky in places where the ground freezes solid. 

The garlic must be planted early enough that the new roots establish before the cold weather, but not so early that the foliage grows too much. If the garlic is damaged by cold weather more than once, it will likely not recover as well which will affect the yield a lot. 

For this reason, it is advised that gardeners plant garlic 2 to 3 weeks before the first frost before the ground has frozen. If planted at this time, it will be able to stand extreme colds of up to -30°F (-35°C). 

When you grow garlic it is best to avoid planting in locations where the alliums or onion family was planted within the last 12 months because it reduces the chance of disease. If you want to learn more about how to manage pests and diseases through crop rotation click here

The location that you select should receive at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Additionally, the region where the cloves are planted must contain plenty of organic matter, and be moist, but not water-logged because it may cause the cloves to become moldy and rot.

Once the weather improves shoots will start to grow and reach a height of 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25cm). As the plant matures the foliage will begin to yellow indicating that the garlic is ready to harvest, this typically occurs in late spring or early summer. 

How To Use And Store Garlic

The shelf life of Garlic varies depending on the type of garlic being grown. Soft Neck Garlic, which is the variety that is most commonly purchased from the grocery store, can be stored for up to 9 to 12 months whereas Hard Neck Garlic will only store for up to 6 months. 

Hard Neck varieties have a stalk that runs through the center of the bulb that becomes rigid as it matures whereas Soft Neck varieties have stalks made up of leaves that remain soft and flexible at maturity. 

To store Garlic, be sure to choose an airy container or mesh bags. Garlic needs to avoid the formation of mold, so don’t put it in the refrigerator. 

An alternative method is to braid Garlic. To do this start with a single bulb tied onto the end of a string, with the other end tied to the point you want to hang it. Then tie a single garlic to the end of the string. 

The next step is to find two Garlic bulbs of a similar size, and tie them together using their stems with 2 inches (5 cm) between the bulbs. The wind around the string and push them down until they come into direct contact with the first bulb. Repeat this process, until the braid has reached the desired height. 

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Paul Smart