Home-grown garlic, pickled

November 12, 2008 | By | Comments (5)

Have you ever had Spanish Roja garlic? It’s a beauty, with big fat juicy red-skinned cloves. We grew it for our one-block feast this summer.


Our plot yielded dozens of chubby heads of garlic. We’ve been working it into regular recipes, but it seemed a shame not to pay homage to it with a pickle. A pickle that would be all about the garlic–loads and loads of whole cloves, nothing else except spices–and be a good memory of the pungent, fresh garlic we pulled up from the warm soil.

So I decided to make my mom’s pickled garlic. It’s just a footnote to a  bread-and-butter cucumber pickle recipe, written on an index card in her flowing script. She’s had it for ages and isn’t sure where it came from. Maybe she invented it; maybe it’s from a friend or a magazine long ago. Anyway, it’s delicious. The cloves get all buttery soft but are still tangy. They’re great spooned to the side of roasted beef or pork…or fish…or pasta…or even with a wedge of good Cheddar cheese. You can eat a lot of garlic this way.

Sally True’s Pickled Garlic


Peeling this much garlic is a wee bit tiresome, I must admit, so put on some good music and know that once you’ve finished the prep work, you’re basically done: The cloves only cook for 3 minutes.

Makes: About 2 pints Time: about 1 hour

1/4 cup sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp. salt
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. mixed peppercorns
(green, red, black, white; just one color is okay too)
1 1/2 tsp. yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. celery seeds
8 heads fat-cloved garlic, peeled

Special equipment: 2 pint canning jars, sterilized*

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil 3 minutes and pour into hot, sterilized jars. With tongs, set inner lid on top of jar rim, then the outer ring. Using potholders, screw the top on tight and let cool. Then chill it for at least a day before eating, to let the flavors develop.

The pickles keep in the fridge for up to a year unopened. (To test the
seal, press
the center of the lid; if it yields and makes a little popping sound,
it’s not sealed, and you should eat the pickle within a month.) You
could probably keep it, sealed, at room temperature, but the pickle
isn’t heat-processed right in the jar after you fill it (most pickles
are), so better be safe than sorry and keep it chilled.

* To sterilize jars: Fill them with hot water and put them in a deep pot. Drop the lids in alongside. Fill the pot with water and bring to a boil. Boil jars and lids for 10 minutes; then empty and fill right away, while still hot (use tongs to move them around).


  1. Adrienne

    I only made enough for one pint because I have never canned garlic. But it smelled heavenly while simmering the ingredients. I also didn’t have the mustard seeds so I used the ground mustard seeds, but it still smelled awesome.

    August 13, 2017 at 1:07 am
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  3. Georgia

    Margo, I am finally preparing these pickles, almost three years later! Check out milonandnutella.blogspot.com for a post.

    February 6, 2011 at 2:15 pm
  4. Margo True

    Glad you like pickles, Georgia. I’ll be posting another one soon–for an Indian-style garlic pickle. And maybe, if it turns out well, for a pickle I made with the last of the curvy trombetta zucchini from our one-block-diet summer garden.

    November 16, 2008 at 2:25 am
  5. Georgia

    Fantastic; another pickle recipe!

    November 13, 2008 at 12:15 am

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