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Garlic has to be the cook's number one way of adding flavor to a savory dish. It has an almost mythical reputation as one of our most beneficial foods. It is said to prevent heart conditions, improve circulation, and is a natural wide-spectrum antibiotic.
Garlic is a member of the alum family, so is closely related to onions. It works well in any dish where onions are involved, giving added pungency and aroma that are hard to beat.
A single clove of garlic is a little powerhouse of flavor and bursting with health benefits. It is also ridiculously easy to grow. What do you do when you grow far too much to use right away? Well, you can preserve it to use during the year or even to give as gifts to family and friends.
Here are two really simple methods of storing and preserving garlic.
The easiest way to preserve garlic is by dry-storing. If you do this properly, garlic will keep for up to a year. The first thing you have to do is ensure the garlic bulbs (that is the cluster of cloves that make up a head of garlic) are dry. Garlic is quite fragile and easily damaged if you are too rough, so carefully wash away soil and hang each bulb from its leaves individually – a clothespin and a line is the best way of doing this. Make sure you hang them in a dry, well ventilated place for two weeks. A garden shed is ideal. During this two weeks, the flavor will deepen and intensify. Feel free to cook with it at any time during the drying process.
Once the garlic is thoroughly dry, you can trim off the leaves and roots, and remove one later of papery skin. At this stage, if there are any sprouting or damaged bulbs remove them – don't discard them, however, you can use them right away.
The garlic needs to be kept so that dry air can circulate around the bulbs. Store them in paper or mesh bags, or in a special terracotta storage container that is designed to allow air to circulate.
Another way of storing garlic is to braid them and hang in your kitchen – although don't use this method if your kitchen gets hot and steamy.
The advantages of eating pickled garlic is that you are not afflicted by 'garlic breath' for hours after eating it, neither is the flavor as strong as the dried variety. You can still cook with it and also put it in mixed salads to add a punch. I like to add a small bowl of pickled garlic gloves to the table, so that my family can add them to their plates if they wish.
There are many ways to pickle garlic. Some involve blanching or boiling, unfortunately garlic will lose many of its valuable nutrients on the way. I prefer to use a simple refrigerator method that will preserve the garlic indefinitely (that just doesn't happen in our house!).
A word about quantities: any size jars, as long as they have an airtight seal, are suitable for pickled garlic. You will need to gather your jars, see how many cloves will fit into them and then use an appropriate amount of vinegar to cover them.
- Enough garlic cloves to fill an airtight jar or jars.
- Red wine vinegar
- Sea salt – one level tablespoon per cup of vinegar
- White sugar – 1 level teaspoon per cup of vinegar
Peel the garlic cloves, place into jars, cover with vinegar and add the sea salt and sugar. Place into refrigerator and do not use before two weeks. The garlic will now keep for as long as you wish.
Variation: add whole peppercorns and suitable herbs, such as thyme or dill for a flavor twist.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Bev G
Are you a garlic lover?
Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on August 01, 2012:
Well, you are in for a tasty, crunchy treat, Susan! Thanks for looking in.
Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on August 01, 2012:
I use garlic pretty much everyday, love it raw and cooked! So glad that I stopped by to read your hub as I've never had pickled garlic before and this is something I will try.
Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on July 27, 2012:
Indeed, Raytonian, that's why I didn't include a recipe for oil-preserved garlic - although I do buy it sometimes. I did mean to add a note about it but forgot, so thanks for that. Glad you stopped by. x
Raytonian on July 26, 2012:
Thanks for an interesting article!
Garlic is also preserved in vegetable or olive oil but an important thing to keep in mind when preserving garlic in oil of any kind is that it tends to develop botulism if not constantly refrigerated, which is lethal. Botulism is developed under anaerobic conditions which is ideal in oil and garlic is a sucker for that. More on this fact can be found on the net.