Delectable Pickled Garlic

GarlicHomemade garlic powder is good.  It’s amazing even, especially when compared with conventional store-bought garlic powder.  I just made it the other day, but I’ve already used it to make garlic bread, to flavor mashed potatoes, and in my homegrown spaghetti sauce.

But do you know what’s even better than garlic powder?  Like, a bajillion times better?

Pickled Garlic!

The first time I ever ate pickled garlic was at my wedding.  This was way way back in 2004.  I was only 21, a junior in college, and the love of my life was being shipped off to fight in that ill-conceived war in Iraq.  So, we did the only sensible thing we could do.  We got married.  And we served pickled garlic to our guests.

It was fantastic.

To cut a long story short, Jasper ended up getting injured and coming home, I graduated college, we moved a few times (finally to this farm), the marriage has lasted and so has the love of the pickled garlic.  In fact, it was the first thing we decided to do when faced with the task of preserving 200 garlic bulbs.

Pickling dilutes the spiciness and intensity of raw garlic, but still leaves the complexity of flavor.  In my opinion, it’s so much better than eating a regular pickle (or a regular clove of garlic, for that matter).  It makes an amazing appetizer paired with cheese and olives, and adds wonderful nuggets of flavor to vinaigrettes, salads, vegetable sautés and roasts.

It takes a little more effort than making garlic powder, but it’s so worth it!

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Pickled Garlic

If you’ve never made pickles or canned anything before, don’t worry!  I think the hardest thing about it is maybe just having the confidence to do it!

Ingredients:
  • Four cups of peeled garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp pickling salt
  • 1-1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tsp pickling spice per jar (if you don’t have pickling spice, you can also use a 1/8 tsp each of crushed bay leaves, whole coriander seed, black or white peppercorns, whole cumin seed, mustard seed and crushed red pepper flakes)
Equipment:
  • Four half-pint canning jars with lids and rings
  • Saucepan
  • Large stock pot or water bath canning pot
  • Jar lifter or tongs
Instructions:
  1. Wash jars, lids and rings in hot, soapy water
  2. Heat the water in the canning pot to a rolling boil
  3. Transfer jars and lids (not rings) to the canning pot to keep warm
  4. In the saucepan, combine the vinegar, water and salt; bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low until it’s time to fill the jars
  5. Add the pickling spices to the bottom of each jar
  6. Tightly pack the garlic cloves into the jars, filling to 1/2″ of the top
  7. Add hot vinegar mixture to each jar, leaving 1/4″ of headspace
  8. Remove bubbles, wipe jar rims, add lids and screw rings on until fingertight
  9. Process in the water bath for 10 minutes (or adjust for elevation)
  10. For best flavor, let these cure for at least a month
Notes:
  • If you don’t want to process using the water bath canning method, you can also just fill the jars, allow them to cool and then store them in your refrigerator.  Let them cure for a week or so, and then they should keep for several months in there!

Enjoy!


IMG_2607 (1)It feels a little backwards to be pickling and preserving things now, at the tail end of winter.  At the same time though, it’s nice to know that we’ll still have lots of last year’s garlic to eat while we wait for this year’s crop to mature, and this pickled delicacy to crack open on our anniversary.

Garlic breath.  Pickled garlic breath.  That’s love, you guys.

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Homemade Garlic Powder

IMG_2527Do you remember when we harvested our garlic?  There was so much of it, more than 200 fully formed bulbs; a profusion of garlic!  Despite some niggling doubt, I was confident our garlic-loving family could plow right through that, no problem.

Well, as it turns out, we had a problem.

Even loving garlic the way we do, even fully curing it and properly storing it, even incorporating garlic into almost every single dinner we cooked, there was absolutely no possible way we could eat 200 heads of organically grown garlic before it started to sprout.  With no sprouting inhibitors sprayed on them (like on conventionally grown grocery store garlic), our bulbs were feeling the pull of spring just like the rest of us.

We grew hardneck garlic, which give us those wonderful scapes in June, but which don’t store as long as softneck varieties.  Normally hardnecks will store well for 6-10 months, depending on where you keep them.  Garlic keeps best in the dark at a cool room temperature, from 60-65º Fahrenheit with moderate humidity.  Our pantry is dark and cool, but not very humid.  We got seven months of storage from this garlic though, which I consider pretty good.  I just had to figure out how to process and preserve what was left to last an even longer amount of time.

First things first, we had to separate and peel each and every clove.  Cured hardneck garlic is not easy to peel – the skins are hard and surprisingly tough.  Shaking the cloves in a glass jar won’t work.  It takes just digging your fingernails in and cracking it apart, bit by bit.  It’s tedious and time-consuming, but it works.  After that we cut each clove down the middle and took out the green shoot that was starting to grow.  This is important, because to leave it in will add a very bitter flavor to your garlic.

We ended up preserving our garlic in a few different ways and I’ll be talking about those throughout the week.  Today, I’m sharing an incredibly versatile way to use it: homemade garlic powder.

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Garlic Powder (in the oven)

Homemade garlic powder is so easy and useful, it’s a wonder more people don’t make it.  The flavor is so much more intense than store-bought, and there are no questionable additives or preservatives.  You can use it in almost every way and in almost every recipe that calls for fresh garlic, but it really holds its own in dry rubs and marinades for meat and veggies, sauces, and when making garlic bread.

Ingredients:
  • garlic (as much or as little as you want)
Equipment:
  • cutting board
  • sharp knife (I preferred using a paring knife)
  • oven
  • baking sheets
  • parchment paper
  • blender or grinder
  • airtight jars
Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to lowest temperate (170º if possible)
  2. Separate and peel the garlic cloves
  3. If they’re starting to sprout, halve the cloves and remove the green shoot
  4. Slice the garlic into thin, evenly sized slices
  5. Place the slices on baking sheets covered with parchment paper
  6. Let dry in the oven for 3-4 hours, or until completely dried through
  7. Blend or grind the dry slices until they make a fine powder
Notes:
  • You can also use a food dehydrator if you have one.  Check the instructions for cooking temperatures and times.
  • There’s no need to turn the slices while they’re in the oven, just keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn.
  • If you prefer, you can also store the dried garlic slices without blending or grinding them.  They’re great for adding to soups, stir-frys and other meals.
  • Homemade garlic powder contains no additives or preservatives, but dried properly it can keep for up to a year.  For best results and flavor, I would keep just a small amount in your spice cabinet and freeze the rest of it.

Enjoy!


IMG_2562Is anyone else busy in the kitchen preserving last year’s harvests before it goes bad?  Do you make your own garlic powder?  What are your favorite recipes to use it in?