In The Recipe Lab: Pickled Garlic

100107-food-pickled-garlic-2-aI don’t know where the idea came from… other than the fact that my dad gave me an unusually large amount of garlic over the Holidays.  He grows five varieties in his bucolic Pennsylvania garden and sells most of it at a farmers market.  But there are always a bunch of loose cloves in need of a home.  So he gave me a bag full of California White and Spanish Roja cloves.  A fairly big bag.  Enough that it would take me months to cook through.  And finding a storage spot for them has been an issue.  So I started thinking about what I could do that might make use of a good portion of them.  Garlic bisque?  Hmmm… for some reason that did not grab me.  A garlic laden roast of some sort?  We just slogged through a month full of holiday roasts so… no thanks. 

Then I started wondering about pickling.  I am a big fan of pickling but I had never pickled garlic before.  What would pickling do to garlic?  Mellow it out?  Could you eat it straight?  Would it still make your breath stink?  Could it be used in cooking?  Would it mess with the taste?  So many questions.  The only sensible thing to do was to experiment.

100107-food-pickled-garlic-1-aSo I found this basic garlic pickle recipe.  Then I riffed on it a little.  First, I divided the recipe in half.  I didn’t want to be up to my armpits in pickled garlic if it didn’t turn out well.  Then, I devised an additional two alternative preparations as shown in the photo at the top.  The pickled garlic on the left adheres pretty closely to the recipe with roasted red pepper and mustard powder.  With the addition of a couple sprigs of fresh thyme.  The center pickled garlic I combined with strips of lemon zest, black pepper and fresh sage leaves.  And the pickled garlic on the right is paired with red onion and red chili flakes.  It has less pickling liquor in the photo because its boil was a bit more vigorous than the other two so a good bit of it evidently evaporated.  This may lead to a bit more of a ‘jammy-ness’ but who knows… that may be a good thing.  The bummer about this whole process, though, is that we have to wait three weeks to try them.  I guess the protracted time frame will mellow those little guys out. 

So do stay tuned.  At the fulfillment of the allotted  pickling period I will dutifully report on the results of this garlic experiment.  It will definitely be interesting to see how much of the garlic funk has dissipated.  Only time will tell.  But I promise to have the Altoids on hand just in case.

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