Just about everybody knows that garlic not only imparts great flavor, but it is also good for you too. From fending off vampires to knocking out colds, garlic is a universally loved ingredient for everything from roasted cloves to the tastiest of tomato sauces.
As an Italian American, I grew up knowing garlic was one of the key ingredients to my families heritage and recipes passed down from my ancestors. Even the classic mob movie Good Fellas featured a scene where Pauli slices garlic paper thin while preparing sauce in prison. Could you imagine tomato sauce without garlic or freshly made basil pesto without the addition of the "stinky rose". Garlic is the beloved bulb across the globe.
Garlic has become an important crop on our land here. Each fall, I sow 10 pounds or so in hopes to double the harvest come summer time. To promote larger bulbs, the scapes are cut away from the stalks in mid summer which make for a yummy garlicky treat. Once the crop is ready, the bulbs are pulled from the soil, cleaned and allowed to cure. Once dried, the garlic is stored indoors, hopefully until March or April of the following year.
Because my family can't always use up all the garlic that is harvested, and before too long, the garlic will begin to sprout, preservation allows us to enjoy the flavor and medicinal profile of garlic months beyond its season. Infusions in honey and apple cider vinegar are two means of storing this food for what can potentially be an unlimited amount of time.
So, many of you may ask, "Why on earth should I even bother preserving garlic when I can just enjoy it fresh?" Well, here's my answer.
Raw or low temperature heated honey contains beneficial bacteria. Same goes for unpastuerized apple cider vinegar, which is loaded with probiotics, assisting in proper digestion, nutrient assimilation, and in turn, boosting the immune system.
We all have heard or have first hand experience with "garlic breath". Ya know, that intense fire breath that comes with eating too much raw garlic. The sulfur compounds in garlic, which make garlic so intense with flavor, are broken down and essentially de-odorized during the aging process, which helps eliminate the super strong taste often associated with raw garlic.
Like with many culinary projects in my kitchen, this DIY project will save you time and money in the long run. There's always a little ego boost for me when I can make my own medicine from every day ingredients like those shared in this post.
Traditionally, garlic is aged in alcohol, but for savory culinary uses, I find the acidic vinegar works as a more appropriate solvent.
Allicin, considered to be the most nutritive compound in garlic, is only released when the garlic is chopped. It is allicin which is responsible for giving garlic its antibacterial, anti fungal, and antiviral properties. Interestingly, allicin is only activated when damaged, so it is wise to let your garlic sit for a few minutes after chopping.
Both techniques shared in this post allow the garlic to be consumed with ease, leaving you free from the explosive fire breath that can come with eating straight up raw garlic cloves. Once infused properly, the garlic blends can be added to various recipes, including soups, sauces, vinaigrettes, or add it to salads. My favorite use of all is blending the garlic into my hot sauce recipe!
How to Preserve Garlic
How to Make Garlic Infused Honey
My dear friend Ali first shared this technique with me a few years ago. This simple infusion of sliced garlic and raw honey make for a magical product. Sweet yet potent and pungent, the garlic infused honey can add great flavor to your recipes, or be used as a supplemental cold & flu preventative. Because of the naturally low water content found in the honey, this will safely ferment without any worry of botulism or food born illness.
fresh garlic, thinly sliced or chopped in a food processor
raw honey, enough to add double the amount of garlic you have chopped
1 quart Mason jar
Slice or chop the garlic. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before transferring over to a sanitized Mason jar.
Pour in double the amount of honey, gently warming over a double boiler if necessary to assist in pouring the honey.
Use a wooden spoon to stir together the honey and garlic. The garlic will likely float to the top, so I usually flip the jar every day or so to make sure the garlic is well coated in the honey. Top with a lid, then let sit for 2 weeks or up to a month before using.
How to Make Aged Garlic
I must start this post off by sending some love to my buddy Josh for sharing this technique with me. A few years back he shared a jar of “aged” garlic with me. WHAMMO!! The wheels started turning immediately! The taste and flavor of garlic in its raw state was so incredible, I knew we were on to something with this one. Ever since, I have kept an ongoing batch of aged garlic on hand, ready to nourish our bodies throughout the year.
1-2 cups of garlic
Enough Raw Apple Cider Vinegar to cover the garlic
1 pint-quart sized glass jar w/ lid (Ball or Mason Jar)
1. Remove the skins from the garlic. Roughly chop or slice cloves in half to activate the release of the Allicin. (I remove the sprout from the interior of the clove)
2. Place into a sanitized Mason Jar and cover with the apple cider vinegar
3. Top with the lid, place a date on the jar and allow to sit at room temperature for 2-6 weeks or up to 2 yrs. (Best if stored in a dark place out of direct sunlight.)
**The garlic can be consumed at any point. The longer it sits, the mellower and potentially more medicinal it will become.
**Consume the cloves straight as a supplement or blend into dressings, sauces, or vinaigrettes.
**Be mindful that combining garlic with the vinegar may result in the discoloration of the garlic creating a bluish tint. Over time, the bluish tint will fade away. The blue tint is derived from the mixing of copper or other minerals from the vinegar with sulfur compounds in the garlic.