With a huge harvest of hard neck garlic and no possible way to use it all before it began sprouting, I decided to figure out a better way to preserve it. Raw, dried garlic can be kept for months in a cool and dark environment. However, here in the very warm southwest, it rarely lasts over a month in my home before it sprouts. My brother visited us last week and was kind enough to spend a couple hours showing me how to can it. As it turns out, it was almost ridiculously simple. I am so excited to have garlic ready to use now in the refrigerator!
This garlic tastes FRESH. If you've ever bought a jar of minced garlic or peeled cloves in oil or vinegar, this doesn't resemble any of those things. I have used the preserved cloves in a couple of recipes already and the taste is exactly the same as fresh. Simply take out the number of cloves you need, rinse quickly with water and use as desired. The natural oils of the garlic prevent the vinegar from being absorbed into the cloves. If you want a slight vinegar bite to the garlic, or if you are using it in a recipe that also calls for vinegar, simply use the garlic without rinsing. I plan to try some dressings and marinades using the garlic infused vinegar once I've used the cloves from the jars!
Also called pickling garlic, this method is one of the most common ways to save your garlic harvest. The jars can also be processed in a hot water bath or pressure canner and then stored at room temperature. I had enough space in my refrigerator that I decided to simply line a back shelf with my jars. I am so excited to have garden fresh garlic stored in my refrigerator for the winter!
Updated 9/19/12 to answer multiple questions regarding, Why Did My Garlic Turn Blue? If your garlic does turn blue, it is still safe to eat. This can happen when enzymes and amino acids present in garlic react
with the sulfur compounds responsible for garlic’s pungent smell. I've never actually seen this happen, but apparently it is fairly common.
How To Preserve Garlic
Garlic, heads broken apart and cloves peeled
Large pot for boiling the vinegar
Jars for storing the garlic
Using the method shown below in the video, break apart your heads of garlic and peel the cloves. I've been using this method for over a year now and I LOVE it!
Place the peeled cloves of garlic in a large mixing bowl and fill with water. Use your fingertips to scrub any dirt off of the cloves. Once the cloves are cleaned, transfer them to a large strainer and rinse well.
Depending on when your garlic was harvested, you might have very few brown spots on the cloves. My garlic was harvested late this year, so the ends were quite brown with some spots on the cloves as well. Use a small paring knife to trim the spots and then transfer the cleaned and trimmed cloves back to the strainer. Rinse again.
Bring the vinegar to a boil in a large pot. For several hundred cloves of garlic, I used about 8 cups of vinegar. Place the clean garlic cloves into small jars. (I prefer to use small vs large jars to avoid contaminating a huge amount if the jar is open for too long in the refrigerator.) I filled 10 half pint jars with garlic. Once the vinegar has boiled, pour it over the garlic and screw the lids on tight.
Let the jars come to room temperature on the counter overnight and then store in the refrigerator. According to everything I've read and been told, this will keep in the refrigerator for up to a year.
I'll keep you posted on how the flavor may be affected by longer storage. Enjoy!
ONE YEAR AGO TODAY: White Beans and Cabbage