Pantry Garlic Rack


Sep 2, 2010

Last year Anna and I (ok, really it was Anna) discovered how easy and great tasting roasted garlic was over freshly made bread. Wrap it in tinfoil, add olive oil, and bake in the oven. Once its roasted the garlic is about as spreadable as warm butter and loses a lot of its stronger taste.

This summer Anna planted about a half dozen different varieties which all turned out really well. Initially Anna tied the all the plants up in the pantry, stems and all, to dry them out. However the more she harvested the more it was evident that we could use a more organized storage system.

One option I saw and the web was braiding the garlic together but we didn't really have enough of a single type of garlic to make a sizable braid. We wanted to keep the different types of garlic separated so as we tried them out we would know what we were eating and could plant more of our favorites next year.

Garlic Tray Design

The space I had available for the rack was roughly four feet long by ten inches high by five inches deep. I though the garlic rack could also double as a good place to store other veggies so I wanted the individual bins to be wide enough to accommodate large onions (about four inches in diameter).

I did some browsing around the web for cheap plastic bins I might be able to rig up in the pantry. The problem I saw with using something pre-fab was that it would not allow a lot of air flow around the garlic, which was still in the process of drying out. A semi-sealed plastic bin might end up causing the garlic to rot.

Additionally as the garlic dries out bits and pieces of the outer layers always fall off. Those pieces would need to be periodically collected  and thrown in the compost pile. My ideal design would be aimed at making the collection of the leftover garlic layers easier and one solution to this problem was making the upper trays in the rack have qausi-open bottoms. Also I made the front board of the racks slant inward to keep the garlic paper pieces inside the rack.

I decided to make the rack out of wood, using relatively cheap select pine boards. For the upper, open trays I used 3/8"  wooden dowels. For the bottom, closed tray I used a solid 1" x 4" board . For the front of the trays I used a 1" x 2".

Side Board Design

For the vertical side boards I thought I would aim a little higher than a simple rectangle.  I wanted to remove some of the material to keep the design in line with keeping the racks open and airy to aid the garlic in drying. Open side panels would also make it easier to see inside the racks.

It took me several iterations to come up with a side board design I thought was workable. I first drew several designs on paper and then tried making one out of some 10" wooden blanks I had previously cut from a 1" x 6" board. As soon as I finished my first fabrication I knew I had to start over. The initial design put the trays a bit to far apart from each other and there would have been lots of wasted space in the bins. I fabricated two more side panels with three racks instead of two and eventually got something I thought was workable.

That first panel was a bit beat up and ugly due to all the extra marks and rough cuts it had. I ended up using that panel as a cut and drill guide for the rest of the panels I needed.  

Pantry Garlic Rack Construction

I started by making five side panels. The goal was to make them identical but I wasn't too concerned about exact

measurements given this rack would spend its useful life hidden in a pantry. For the most part the panels all looked the same. I spent a minimal amount of time sanding them. I mainly went over them with a wood file to clean up the cut edges.

The rack went together pretty easily once I had the side boards done. I started by attaching the bottom 1" x 4" to the five side panels, evenly spaced one foot apart. Once that was solid I put in the three front 1" x 2" strips, followed by the wooden dowels that made up the upper trays.

I used finishing nails and glue to hold it all together. For the back of the rack I cut a piecs of 1/4" plywood to size

Garlic Bin Tags

Once I had the garlic rack in place Anna mentioned it would be useful to have some sort of tag attached to each bin to keep track of the different types of garlic. We had some left over reusable garden stake with reusable metal ID labels out in the garage. These takes were a bit on the large side so I got out my tin snips and cut them down to size to about 3/4" x 1 1/2"


So far the rack has served its purpose well. If I were to build it over again I might look into using lighter wood.