It’s a bit fiddly to do, but I think it’s worth it and it looks so great hanging up in the kitchen. I’m pretty sure I don’t do this in the best or neatest way, but I do what works for me, and I think looks good enough. So I’ll pass on my method.
Firstly it’s important that the garlic is allowed to dry out for a couple of weeks before you do this. When you first pull garlic, or onions, the stems are still green and stiff, but as they dry they become limp and flexible. Also, you will need to get some raffia from the garden centre, it not only looks better in hiding the stems, but actually holds everything together tightly and securely.
The first thing to do is trim the roots and strip off the outer leaves and skin as far as you want to. Though be careful not the strip them too far or damage the bulbs.
Take the first 2 bulbs (I tend to start with the larger bulbs at the bottom and use smaller ones at the sides and top) and cross the stems over. Then take the stem that’s on top and wrap it around and under, back in between the bulbs and back to where it was. This is quite critical to secure the first two together. Take a third bulb and place it in the middle and then proceed to plait the stems together as usual, taking the outside stems into the middle. Do only 1 plait to secure the middle bulb before adding another (to one side) and adding that stem to one of the others in the plait. Again, plait to secure, and if possible add a 5th. It will depend on how long and flexible the stems are.
At this point I usually find I can’t plait any further as the bunches of stems are too thick, and so I use the raffia to tie in the next bulb. Tie and secure with a knot and (if you’re really fussy) pull the knot around to the back. Wrap the raffia around, gradually working your way up the stems, and take the last couple of inches in between the stems and pull tightly. The next bulb is then tied on as before and when you wrap this one, you hide the loose end of the last piece.
You could probably keep going as far as you like, but I find about 10 bulbs makes a neat bunch. The last piece of raffia is then passed through and tied into a loop at the back for hanging, and the ends of the stems can be trimmed. There you go, you’d pay a small fortune for that in Waitrose! Let me know if you have a better method.