Out of all the excellent pickled things in the world, garlic has to be one of my favourites; it becomes almost sweet and tangy with a really delicious subtle garlic flavour. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but pickles are good to use anywhere and these particular ones go very well with salumi or olives, and they’d also be mighty tasty in a salad. I’ve pickled fresh and dried garlic and done it using both whole heads and individual cloves. This recipe calls for elephant garlic cloves as they're big and easy to peel and have a sweet flavour. Do feel free to experiment with any type of garlic.
- 400-450 g approx. 5 heads peeled cloves of elephant garlic
- 1 medium-sized jar
- 400 ml cider vinegar
- 200 ml water
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp mustard seeds
- 1 bay leaf
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Makes 1 medium-sized jar
Resting time At least 6 months
Place the garlic in a medium saucepan and cover generously with cold water. Place over high heat and bring it to just before boiling. Remove from heat, strain, rinse the garlic under cold water and repeat twice more.
While you are doing this, combine the pickle liquid ingredients in a pot and bring to the boil.
Now you need to sterilise your jar. There are many ways to do this, but one of the easiest is to gently lower your jar into a large pot of boiling water, let it sit for a minute and then carefully remove with tongs without spilling boiling water on yourself. Use some paper towel to give it a quick wipe.
Place your garlic in the jar and pour over the hot pickle liquid until it reaches the top. Give your jar a good few taps on the bench to remove any air bubbles. Cut out a round of baking paper to the size that will fit snugly over the top of the garlic, and then top up your jar with a little more liquid. You want to make sure all the garlic is submerged.
Seal the lid tightly, write a little date on the top, and then put your jar in a place that allows you to look at it proudly and longingly every day for the next six months until it’s ready.
• Blanching the garlic means you get a slightly more subtle flavour and your pickle will be ready a lot faster. This is by no means the only way to pickle garlic, rather just a quick-and-easy version that's still very delicious. Like most things, however, the more you start to pickle, the more you realise there are a million ways to go about it.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Jerrie-Joy Redman-Lloyd. Side plate from Dinosaur Designs.