What to do when you have an abundance of leftover garlic? Pickle it! That’s how this recipe was born. I’d bought a big ol’ bag of peeled garlic cloves to use for cooking an Italian meal for a big party. After the party, I had lots of garlic left that I didn’t want to go to waste. Even after I froze a bunch of the garlic for future use (see my post How To Mince and Freeze Garlic), I still had garlic left. The easiest, tastiest way I could figure out to preserve it was to pickle and can it. Boy, am I glad I did. I pickled my first jars of garlic a year ago, and I’ve loved having them in my pantry and fridge.
Flavorful garlic without the bite. Eating a raw whole clove of garlic would be way too much for me. But pickling mellows out the extreme bite of garlic while leaving it’s essential flavor. The acidic vinegar prolongs the shelf life of the garlic and, at the same time, balances its flavor.
Here are just a few ways to use pickled garlic:
- on appetizer platters along with olives, pickles, cheese, etc.
- either whole or sliced and scattered on salads and antipastos
- sliced and sautéed with veggies of your choice – like familycuisine.net!
- minced, mixed with olive oil, and used to baste grilled veggies or meat
- minced and added to a vinaigrette
- mashed and mixed with butter for an amazing spread for bread or garlic toast
- mashed and mixed into hummus
- stuffed whole inside large, pitted olives
- with Chinese food (especially noodles); on my Facebook page, a reader shared that pickled garlic is popular in China and common in restaurants there
- as gifts-something uniquely homemade to take along for a host/hostess gift or to share at a party
Can familycuisine.net not. Choose which method you prefer:
- Refrigerator pickled garlic – Simply assemble the jars and refrigerate. them. After marinating in the fridge for at least 3 days, they’re ready to eat. They’ll be good stored in the fridge for several months.
- Canned pickled garlic – This recipe is suitable and safe for water-process canning. That means they’ll be shelf-stable for at least 1 year. It is so easy to can a small batch of pickled garlic, as you’ll see in the step-by-step photos below. Canned pickles may be stored in a dark pantry so they don’t take up fridge space and they are easy to gift.
Printable labels, too. Canned goods make a great gift to have on hand, and pickled garlic makes a particularly unique gift. I’ve provided printable labels near the end of this post that transform your jars into distinctive gifts. Make them now to have ready for holiday, hostess, teacher, and friend gift-giving. There’s nothing more appreciated than a homemade gift.
Step-by-step photos for makingPickled Garlic
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients:
- bay leaves (cut in half with scissors or kitchen shears)
- coriander seed
- cumin seed
- crushed red pepper
- mustard seed
- White wine vinegar is preferred, but you can also use regular white vinegar
- Pickling or kosher salt- These 2 salts are pure and without additives. Table salt isn’t recommended because it contains additives that can cloud the liquid and degrade the quality of the pickles. (source: The Kitchn)
- Garlic-peel it yourself, or buy it already peeled. I bought a big bag of peeled garlic at Costco.
Step 2. Peel the garlic (if you didn’t buy it peeled). You want whole peeled garlic cloves-don’t mash them. Here are 3 options that work for peeling garlic cloves easily while keeping them whole.
- OPTION 1: Use a mason jar. Place unpeeled garlic cloves inside, screw on the lid and shake it like crazy until the peels fall off. Since the jar is clear, it’s easy to stop and check to see when the job is finished.
- OPTION 2: Use a garlic peeler tube. Simply insert a few cloves inside the tube, press with your palm as you roll the tube against the counter, and the peels come right off.
view on Amazon: garlic peeler tube
- OPTION 3: Use 2 bowls to shake off the peels. This is a good way to peel larger quantities of garlic cloves at one time. Watch this video see a quick demonstration of this easy method.
Step 3. Combine the vinegar and salt in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil and cook until the salt is dissolved. Cover, lower heat, and keep it warm.
Below are step-by-step photos that explain how to assemble and can jars of pickled garlic. If you are making refrigerator pickled garlic, simply assemble the jars as described and refrigerate them, skipping the water process canning.
CANNING PICKLED GARLIC (Water Processing)
- Adhere to canning safety guidelines. It’s important to follow the jar preparation and processing recommended by the USDA. If you want more detailed canning information, I recommend the Ball website. They are the ultimate authority, and their site is loaded with detailed information and recipes suited for canning.
- For general canning tips, see my previous post,
Step-By-Step Canning Tips
Step 4. Prepare the jars & lids. I use half-pint jars for pickled garlic. Wash the jars in hot sudsy water, rinse and dry them. The jars don’t have to be sterilized, since they will be processed for 10 minutes (as per updated canning guidelines from Ball). The washed jars need to be hot when they’re filled with the hot vinegar mixture. Keep the jars hot in the canner filled with simmering water. Or, my preference is to put them on a tray in an 180 degree oven to keep them hot until it’s time to fill them. I think that’s easier that juggling them in and out of hot water right before filling familycuisine.net lids and rings should be washed in hot sudsy water, rinsed and dried. The lids do not have to be kept hot in simmering water according to current canning guidelines.
Read more: Quick Pickled Vegetables | Family Cuisine
Step 5. Add seasonings to the bottom of each half-pint jar. Then fill the jar with peeled garlic cloves. Pack them in as compactly as possible, but don’t crush them.
- view on Amazon: half-pint jars
Step 6. Ladle the hot vinegar mixture into the jars, filling them until there is 1/4″ headspace.
Step 7. Insert a bubble remover down the side of the jar and pull toward the center to release any bubbles (you can use any long, thin object like a chopstick). Then tap the jar gently on the counter to help release additional trapped bubbles.
Step 8. Measure headspace and add more hot vinegar mixture to restore 1/4″ headspace, if necessary.
Step 9. Clean jar rims thoroughly with a wet paper towel. If the rims are dirty the jars won’t seal.
Step 10. Add a lid to each jar. Screw on a ring until it is “finger tight”.
- view on Amazon: half-pint jars, canning funnel, large ladle, bubble remover & headspace tool
For refrigerator pickled garlic, you’re done! Let the jars cool to room temperature, then put them in the fridge and let them marinate for a few days (at least 3 days) before eating them. They will keep in the fridge for several months.
For canned pickled garlic, proceed with the following steps:
Step 10. While you’re filling the the jars, get your water boiling. Add water to a water-process canner or large pot (with a rack or basket in the bottom) that is tall enough for the water level to be 1″ higher than the jars. Bring water to a boil, cover, and keep hot until jars are ready.
- In the photos below, I’m using a small-batch canning basket that fits inside a stockpot. It works great for 3 or 4 half-pint jars. For larger batches (up to 12 half-pint jars), I use a full-size electric canner.
Step 11. Use a jar lifter to lower each jar vertically into the canner of boiling water. Make sure there is at least 1″ of water over the tops of the jars. Cover and return water to a rolling boil. Process jars in boiling water for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and remove lid; leave jars in hot water for 5 more minutes. (NOTE: This recommended time was increased from 10 minutes to 20 minutes based on current canning guidelines.) For full pint-size jars, increase processing time to 35 minutes.
Step 12. Use a jar lifter to remove each jar vertically and set on a towel. Leave undisturbed for 12 hours. Within 30 minutes after the jars are removed from the water, you know they’ve safely sealed if the center of the jar is slightly indented (it shouldn’t give when you press it); often you’ll hear a popping noise when they seal. If any of your jars don’t seal, store them in the fridge and eat them within 2-3 months.
view on Amazon:
- small-batch canning basket (fits in large stock pot)
- large-batch electric waterbath canner, (highly recommended if you do a lot of canning-I love mine!)
- large-batch stove-top waterbath canner and utensil kit (economical option-I used this for many years)
- jar lifter
Store your sealed, processed jars in a cool, dark place (a cabinet or pantry is fine as long as it doesn’t get too hot); a basement is ideal. They are shelf stable for at least 1 year.
For a finishing touch, I like to label my jars. That way they’re easy to identify on my shelf, look attractive on the table, and are ready for make-ahead gifts. Grab one of these to take as a unique, homemade gift for a host/hostess, teacher, co-worker, or friend. Print the labels and stick them on the sides or lids of each jar-easy!
Download printable jar labels/tags. These are sized to fit on jar lids (regular or wide mouth) or sides.
- Print these on card stock, cut them out, punch a hole on top, and hang them from the jar neck with a ribbon, string, or rubber band. OR
- Print them on sticker paper and stick them to the jar or lid. (This is what I do.) Or, print them on regular paper and stick them on with tape.
If you don’t have a printer or specialty papers, you can have a store with printing services download and print them for you (Office Depot, Staples, etc.)
Click on the label image below to download & print a full sheet of labels/tags.
Cut with scissors or a circle punch. You can cut the round tags out carefully with scissors, or use a circle punch to make the task easier and more precise. I use a 2-1/4″ circle punch; it fits both regular and wide canning lids.
view on Amazon: 2-1/4″ circle punch (this fits mason jar lids)
Write-on labels are an easy option if you don’t want to go to the trouble of printing and cutting your own. These ready-made rolls of labels are sized just right for canning jars and they are dissolvable for easy removal when the jar is empty.
- view on Amazon: Ball dissolvable labels
Now all that’s left is eating and enjoying these flavorful little morsels.
Set a bowl of these out with some cheese and crackers for a quick, easy appetizer.
Include them on a plate with other pickled and marinated goodies like olives, artichoke hearts, pepperoncini, roasted red peppers, baby corn, and mozzarella balls.
They’re also a yummy addition to salads and antipasto platters. Here’s my recipe for assembling a gorgeous antipasto: Italian Antipasto Salad Platter.
If you’ve never tried pickled garlic, you are in for a treat. I love having these on hand in my pantry and fridge.
Make it a Yummy day!
Here are more of my recipes that are suitable for water process canning:
- Dill Pickles
- Bread and Butter Pickles
- Classic Marinara Sauce
- Roasted Salsa
- Roasted Salsa Verde
- 3 Barbecue Sauces
- Pickled Jalapeno Peppers
- Fruit & Applesauce Blends
- Choose-Your-Stone-Fruit Jam