Why It Works
- Blanching is an easy way to peel a large amount of garlic.
- Pickling garlic in vinegar preserves it in a safe, high-acid environment.
- Pickling takes away raw garlic's bite, and adds acidity to entrees and dressings.
Some of my most vivid childhood memories are when my parents would leave us with a babysitter and go out to dinner with friends. Their restaurant of choice was a place called Saigon Express, where the cook had a generous hand with the garlic. They'd come in from dinner, smelling of cool night air, puckery dipping sauces, and fragrant garlic.
Of all the kitchen training I received from my mother while growing up, the importance of fresh garlic in the kitchen has stuck with me above all. Thanks to her, garlic has always been one of my kitchen staples. I keep several fresh heads in a bowl by the stove, often roast some up in olive oil to keep in the fridge and even grind it up to eat raw when I feel a cold coming on (my husband just loves it when I do that).
In the last year or so, I've added another form of staple garlic to my kitchen rotation: pickled garlic. If you've ever made a batch of homemade pickles that included a handful of peeled garlic cloves for flavor, I do hope you eat those garlic cloves when the jar is nearly done. The vinegar takes the edge off their natural spiciness and makes them flavorful without being overpowering.
Use pickled garlic in salad dressings or as part of a pickle plate. They're particularly good when drizzled with a bit of fruity oil. During dinner prep, I'll often coarsely chop the pickled cloves and add them to sautéed vegetables, as they add both flavor and an acidic punch to the finished dish. When the jar is all gone, I save the leftover brine and use it in homemade bean purées or quickly dressed bowls of salad greens.
People hear scary things about canning garlic. Happily, it's only an issue when you're dealing with foods that are in an acidity grey zone, like pasta sauces and salsas. This pickle can be safely canned in a boiling water bath canner because you're submerging the garlic cloves in a brine of highly acidic red wine vinegar.
Before You Get Started
Choose heads of garlic that feel tight and heavy for their size. Stay away from heads where the cloves are starting to pull away from the center.
To quickly separate garlic cloves from their heads, place the head on a large cutting board root side down. Put the palm of your hand on the head and gently press down, using the weight of your body (tables work better than countertops for this), until the cloves split apart from the head.
The easiest way to peel a large number of garlic cloves that I've found is to blanch them. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prep an ice water bath. When the water is boiling, drop the garlic cloves in and let them dance in the water for two to three minutes. When the time is up, transfer them to the ice water bath. When they're cool enough to handle, you should be able to pop the cloves right out of their peels.
1 pound fresh garlic, peeled
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon pickling salt
Prepare a small canning pot and 3 half-pint jars. Place 3 new lids in a small pot of water and bring to the barest simmer.
Combine vinegar, water and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Pack garlic cloves into prepared jars.
Pour hot brine over the garlic cloves.
Tap jars gently to remove any trapped air bubbles. If necessary, add more brine to return the headspace to 1/2 inch.
Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process jars in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes (start your timer when the water returns to a boil, not when the jars first go in).
When time is up, remove jars from canner and let cool on a folded kitchen towel.
When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals by grasping edges of lids and carefully lifting jars. If lids hold fast, seals are good.
Store jars in a cool, dark place. They are ready to eat within 48 hours, but can be kept up to 1 year.
Three 8-ounce mason jars, canning pot.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 6g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 0g|
|Vitamin C 6mg||30%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|