Kitchen Tip: How To Preserve Garlic

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I recently found myself with a huge harvest of hard neck garlic and no possible way to use it all before it began sprouting. I love garlic and cooking with garlic but even so, I knew I needed figure out how to preserve garlic.

While I’ve canned before, I’d never thought to preserve garlic like that. My brother visited us last week and was kind enough to spend a couple hours showing me how to can it.

Kitchen Tip: How To Preserve Garlic recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

As it turns out, it was almost ridiculously simple. It’s so simple and so effective that I wish I had learned to do it years ago.

I am so excited to have garlic ready to use now in the refrigerator and excited to share my findings with you!

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.

How to Store Garlic

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. Preserving it with this easy pickling method helps keep it fresh for months.

Wondering if this method yields garlic with a pickled, vinegary taste? It doesn’t. The natural oils of the garlic prevent the vinegar from being absorbed into the cloves! Handy, right?

To use your preserved garlic, just take out the number of cloves you need, rinse quickly with water and use as desired. 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 pressure canner and then stored at room temperature – however, it may lose some of its flavor through the process.

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!

 

Selecting Garlic

If you don’t grow and harvest your own garlic in a home garden, follow these tips for selecting the best and freshest heads of garlic from your farmer’s market or grocery store to use in your preserved garlic recipe:

First, look for heads of garlic without sprouting. Sprouting is an immediate indicator that the garlic is no longer fresh and not worth your money.

Next, give the garlic a quick “sniff and squeeze.” If it smells mildewy or moldy, give it a pass. That’s an almost sure indicator that the garlic has gone rotten.

Fresh garlic cloves should never be soft or squishy. A fresh head of garlic will be firm to the touch and not yield with a light squeeze.

Kitchen Tip: How To Preserve Garlic recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

How to Peel Garlic

Arguably the most time-consuming part of the process of preserving garlic is peeling it. Of course, you can just use your fingers and peel away but if you’re looking for a faster process or run into a stubborn clove whose skin just won’t peel, here are a few popular tricks.

One well-known way of peeling garlic cloves in a flash is by hitting the clove with the flat side of the knife. For this recipe, we want to preserve whole cloves intact so be careful not to smash your garlic if you try this method.

Many home cooks like to place their garlic cloves in a glass jar with a closed lid then vigorously shake to loosen the garlic skin. This is definitely effective but, again, just be careful you don’t smash your garlic cloves!

Using the microwave to loosen the skin before peeling could also be handy for this recipe, since we’re peeling a LOT of garlic cloves here!

Preparing Garlic

Depending on when your garlic was harvested you might notice some brown spots on the cloves. This is perfectly normal and doesn’t mean your garlic is rotten.

After rinsing once, I used a small paring knife to trim off brown spots on my garlic cloves. After all the brown spots are removed, rinse the garlic bulbs a second time and proceed with the recipe as directed.

Kitchen Tip: How To Preserve Garlic recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

Storing Garlic

If you use the method outlined in the recipe, you’ll need to store your jars of preserved garlic in the refrigerator to make them last. Designate one side of a shelf or a shelf on the inside of a drawer for your garlic jars. They should stay fresh for several months and even up to a year.

Sticking with this basic refrigerator canning method is by far the easiest way to preserve garlic but you can also use a traditional canning method. Following a pressure canning method with sterilized jars and lids allows you to store your preserved garlic at room temperature for up to a year or more.

How to Use Preserved Garlic

You can use your preserved garlic anywhere you’d use the fresh stuff! And believe me when I tell you it maintains all the same aromatic, flavorful goodness of a freshly harvested garlic bulb.

Sauteed garlic is a must-have for countless savory recipes. We use it in everything from Garlicky Ginger Stir-Fry for a quick and easy weeknight meal to Sauteed Zucchini Ribbons.

Preserved garlic (rinsed and patted dry) is also amazing roasted! Use it in Roasted Garlic Quinoa with Mushrooms,  Roasted Garlic and Bacon Guacamole and Roasted Garlic White Bean Dip and be everyone’s new best friend.

I also love garlic as an ingredient in salad dressing, sauces, marinades and savory spreads. It’s just divine in Beer and Garlic Marinade, Mojo Marinade,  and in Homemade Ranch Dressing.  This Chipotle Garlic Sauce served with roasted  fingerling potatoes are a garlic lovers’ dream.

True garlic fanatics NEED to try my Garlic Lover’s Potato Salad. That recipe alone is worth “putting up” a big batch of garlic so you have it on hand anytime a craving strikes.

Give preserving your own garlic a try. I guarantee you won’t be sorry! It’s an easy and money-saving way to ensure you always have garlic on hand anytime you need it.

Why Does Garlic Turn Blue

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 seen this happen a few times now and apparently, it is fairly common.

Kitchen Tip: I use this pot and these jars when preserving garlic.

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Kitchen Tip: How To Preserve Garlic

4.67 from 12 votes
Preserving garlic, also called pickling garlic, is one of the easiest ways to save your garlic harvest. There's nothing better than having fresh garlic ready to use all year long.
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Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American

Ingredients 

  • Garlic heads broken apart and cloves peeled
  • Distilled vinegar
  • Large pot for boiling the vinegar
  • Jars for storing the garlic

Instructions

  • Break apart your heads of garlic and peel the cloves. 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. This will keep in the refrigerator for up to a year. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 50kcal · Carbohydrates: 1g · Sodium: 5mg · Vitamin C: 0.9mg · Calcium: 15mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @WPRecipeMaker or tag #wprecipemaker!

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{originally posted 9/14/12 – recipe notes and photos updated 12/26/18}

 

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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    • Dana says

      Do you mean cure It as in letting it sit and dry after you harvest it? If so, I’d like to know that too. Just harvested garlic and trying to figure out the best way to store it longer term…

  1. NordyBagLady says

    Some of my garlic cloves have turned bluish-green. Not sure why. Can I just pick out those cloves, reprocess, or throw it out?

  2. NordyBagLady says

    I just submitted a comment regarding garlic turning bluish-green; please disregard. I missed your detail that is normal. Sorry! Thank you for sharing this recipe.

    • Mary Younkin says

      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 seen this happen a few times now and apparently, it is fairly common.

  3. Dana says

    Hi! Just wondering how to tell if the garlic has gone bad after you’ve preserved it and opened the jar and it has sat open. Like if you didn’t use them all right away and now you’re wondering if the rest are still OK to use.

    • Mary Younkin says

      That’s a good question, Dana. I’d probably base it on smell. That said, I’ve had jars of garlic in my fridge for up to a year without any issues at all.

  4. Susan Lauder says

    ~ I will try this tonite when it cools down.. My 1st time preserving garlic. My sister got me 3 bags! from Costco lol.. I hope it all turns out..Thank you for your help on this site.

  5. JanNoel says

    I just tried this. Soooooo easy compared to most other recipes that call for all sorts of fresh herbs and stuff. I’l update soon.

  6. Nancy C. says

    I used the recipe for preserving garlic with distilled vinegar, followed it to a T and it is turning blue…can you tell me anything about this??? And thank you.

    • Mary Younkin says

      Hi Nancy, 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 seen this happen a few times now and apparently, it is fairly common.

  7. Dinah says

    Thank you so much for this method. Just put 3 jars homegrown garlic in the fridge. Do you have an opinion as to how long the garlic will be good in the fridge once I’ve opened the jar to start using? Thank you!

  8. Diane says

    Thanks for this recipe. I have only a small jar of small cloves. Also some jumbo cloves from a separate planting. I decided to preserve the small ones. This should be great.

  9. Vickie says

    Well, I followed your instructions to a tee, I am not a beginner at canning.
    After all that peeling I followed exactly after pouring in the vinegar most cloves began turning green.

    • Mary Younkin says

      As I mention in the post above the directions – 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 seen this happen a few times now and apparently, it is fairly common. I hope that helps, Vickie.

  10. Vickie Bouldin says

    I have done much research now on the problem of the blue green garlic.
    I see it is normal thanks for your response.5 stars

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