Pickled garlic. You are scratching your head at this point. I did too, at first. When I planted garlic in a friend’s garden last winter, yes it was late December, I had no forethought about 40 cloves of garlic becoming 40 bulbs of garlic. I was just excited to be carting seaweed and learning about a gardening technique from a Master Gardener (I will call her MG going forward). So when she pulled off her gloves and began to poke her bare finger into the cold ground on a day when it was barely 20°F/-6°C, the last thing on my mind was what would come up the next summer, but rather, would I too remove my glove. To ward off the suspense, I decided that my gloves could go in the washer and I would let them get covered in mud. The ground was not yet frozen, as the area where we planted the garlic was already tilled and covered with a protective layer of newspaper and hay.
A note on canning, before I go any further.
Canning is a fun process once you feel in control of how to do it. If you are a novice canner, Pickling Garlic is not the place to start. I wrote this piece to share about my experience with learning about growing it, and then how I ultimately am using it. I will tell you about the flavorings that I used, but when it comes to the actual canning process, I have deferred to the professionals and listed reference materials with sites, links for equipment and detailed videos on how to get started. If you are an experienced canner, then garlic will be an easy addition to your repertoire of canned products.
While have been canning for many years, and I am a professional jam maker, which is a while different ball of wax, I do not want to profess to knowing all there is to know about home canning. My Master Gardener friends are way more experienced than I, and every season I learn about something new.
So, the garlic went into the ground. The winter came and went. Spring arrived in Berlin. And it stayed cold in Maine. Really cold and wet. And no spring. When I got back on May 20th, there were no daffodils, not tulips, no leaves on the trees. It was winter with green grass. By June the spring flowers started to come up. I went to visit the garlic. The chutes were coming through and the rest of my friend’s garden was coming out in full force. The days had begun to warm up and we sat on her front porch and sipped a wonderful red. We sipped and talked. The garlic grew. Little did I know that pickled garlic was lurking in my future, nor did I quite realize the amount of garlic that was pushing those stalks up through the ground.
Patience is a virtue I do not naturally possess.
Over the next weeks I went to do a variety of things with the garlic as per MG’s instruction. Weeding, removing the garlic scapes, and cutting back the brown leaves were the activities over a matter of weeks. And then I had to wait some more. One cannot rush a garden. I was busy, so I was ok with the slowness of it all. Not being the most patient of people, it is a somewhat lacking virtue, I could not wait to pull those bulbs from the ground, truth be told.
There was more…
When the harvest time arrived, it was a bonanza. Those little, itty-bitty cloves turned into rather large bulbs of hearty garlic. (I will update photos at a later date). Wait, we are not done. Now the garlic had to dry for 3 weeks. Yes, it had to hang somewhere out of direct sunlight, away from being rained upon, and the suggestion from several gardening buddies was to hang it in the basement. Mind you this was 40, 40 bulbs, 40 BULBS of garlic. Fresh garlic. What do you think that much garlic smells like? And now I was going to contain it in my basement. No way. Period. I love garlic, but not so much that my house would be scented as if it was a sachet for a drawer.
Worth the wait.
It really was. And is. We have enough garlic to get through the next few years. So, I gave a bit away. And I decided to pickle a bit. I found several recipes and adapted one from the Blue Book Ball Jar Canning Book. I have recommended a few below, as this one has become hard to find.
Mass peeling for Pickled Garlic (and other recipes),
Cool way to peel lots of cloves, should you ever need to, is with two bowls. Check this out from Food Wishes:
IS THAT NOT THE COOLEST THING?
Other garlicky recipes to try:
Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic from Barfoot Contessa
Classic Shrimp Scampi by Melissa Clark from the NYT Cooking Section (hands down, she has the best videos)
How to Roast Garlic from Culinary Hill
Roasted Garlic Soup with Parmesan Cheese from BonApétit on Epicurious
New to the canning process? These are the items you need to get started:
*PLEASE NOTE, THESE ARE AFFILIATE LINKS AND A PORTION OF THE SALE GOES TO BLEUBERET
Yes, You Can: Canning 101 from preserving.com (Ball Jar Company Site)
What Is Canning? Step-by-Step Canning for Beginners Plus Home Canning Methods from MasterClass.com
VIDEO – this video is an hour long, and is well-worth the watching. It contains answers to questions that you will have as you go through the canning process. Armed with the info before you start will make the canning process less daunting:
Simple Canning Recipes to start with:
Pickled Garlic Seasoning:
For the pickled garlic in the photos above, I used a garam masala (about 2 TBSP), organic white vinegar (5% acidity), and raw sugar (4 oz/125g). My yield was three 8oz/230g jars. As there was no water added, I upped the sugar to a point where it would counter the acidity of the vinegar. The is a hot water bath item. I have never done garlic before, so will update the article once I open a jar. Unlike the starting recipes above, garlic needs to sit for a couple months before eating, so I was told. Pickles and corn relish should sit for a little bit to really infuse the flavors, but I have made them and eaten them sooner than the recipe calls for them to rest.
Canning is fun. You can make small batches that are doable for an evening activity. If you see something at the farmer’s market that looks like it will make a nice relish or jam, this is when canning becomes really exciting. Once you have the hang of the technique, start to experiment with seasonings and vegetables.
For more information about how and what can be safely canned, these are places that you can email, call or refer to their online materials:
USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, 2015 revision
PDF Version of info from USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning (2015)
The Basics of Safe Canning from Extension University of Missouri
Food Safety from University of Wisconsin – Madison