7.27.2008

Garlic preserves

The sweet, pungent aroma of garlic spitting oil is like a dinner bell. Be it July or February, the spicy heads warn hungry father, begging dog, and scampering children that a pan has hit the stove, and a warm, home-cooked meal can't be far behind.

The season for garlic is a long one, extended from its early spring appearance through the colder months by easy storage in a root cellar or basement corner. Perhaps that's why it's so pervasive: in stews and stir-frys, meat roasts and vegetable salads.

But there are still a few months it can't quite manage to survive; according to Gretel at the Orleans Farmers' Market, her garlic won't last much past December.

The idea of a New Year's garlic drought is hardly celebratory. With the season of garlic plenty in full swing and five heads piled atop each other in the kitchen basket, there seemed no better Sunday than today to begin tucking away a store for safe keeping.

With a traditional French recipe for pickling garlic in hand, I gathered a pound of garlic, peeled it, and dropped the tear shaped cloves into a boiling quart of water laced with a tablespoon of salt. While it bubbled away, I gave several small mason jars a hot water bath. I drained the water from the garlic, let the smell fill my nostrils, and filled the sterile jars according to the prescription of the gardeners & farmers of Terre Vivante.*

Soon after a boiling pickling syrup bathed the lot, readying them for the confines of the basement store room with the promise of escape one frosty January eve.

PICKLED GARLIC

*from Preserving food without freezing or canning

Cover 4 pint mason jars in a canning pot with water. Bring to a boil and let sterilize 10 minutes. Peel one pound garlic. Boil one quart of water with one tablespoon of salt. Add the garlic and continue to boil for three to five minutes. Drain the garlic.

Fill each jar with the garlic, one bay leaf, and five black peppercorns.

Boil 1 cup vinegar along with 1/2 cup water and 1/4 sugar, pour this mixture over the garlic, and immediately close the jars. The garlic will keep for a very long time, and is particularly tasty in salads.

Ted Braam, Hagraulet-Du-Gers

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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.