Summer Fest: Spicy Pickled Garlic

Pickled Garlic in Jars

This past weekend might have marked the unofficial end of summer, but Summer Fest is still in full swing over here.  This week we’re celebrating garlic and it’s perfect timing for me because my friend Ruby recently sent me home with a big bag of garlic from her mom’s garden.

Garlic Bulbs

I wasn’t sure what to do with all the garlic and I toyed with the idea of roasting a huge batch and perhaps freezing it in small portions to use throughout the fall and winter.  But then I remembered the pickled garlic that my grandmother used to buy and serve alongside other appetizers during the holidays.  It was really good and I wondered if I could make something similar myself.

I found a couple recipes for pickled garlic in my books about pickling and preserving, and it seemed simple enough.  The recipes called for either straight vinegar or a mixture of vinegar and wine.  I didn’t have any wine in the house, so I decided on a white wine vinegar to use as my liquid.  I didn’t use any pickling spices, opting instead for some dried red chiles – I wanted spicy pickled garlic!

While searching for information about preserving garlic, I found a link to a UC Davis food safety publication called Garlic: Safe Methods to Store, Preserve, and Enjoy. It’s a great resource and it reassured me that I could safely store garlic cloves in wine or vinegar in the refrigerator for a few months.

Separated Garlic Cloves

I ended up peeling about five heads of garlic to fill my three half-pint jars with cloves.  It took a while!

Peeled Garlic Cloves

My books said to blanch the cloves in boiling water for 30 seconds to help loosen the skins for peeling.  I did that, but I’m not sure that it was any faster than if I had just peeled them dry.

Garlic Cloves in Jars

I sterilized the jars in the dishwasher then filled them with cloves and put one dried red chile in each jar.  I boiled the vinegar with salt and sugar then poured the hot liquid over the garlic and puts the lids on.

Spicy Pickled Garlic

That was it!  I waited for them to cool and then put them in the refrigerator to hang out for the next month or so.  I’ll let you know in a month how they taste!  Here’s the recipe I used in case you want to give it a try yourself in the meantime.

Spicy Pickled Garlic

Approximately 1 1/2 cups peeled garlic cloves (4 – 5 heads of garlic)
3 dried chilies
2 cups white wine vinegar
2 scant teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt

special equipment:  3 sterilized half-pint jars with lids

Fill jars with garlic cloves and add one dried chili to each jar.  In a small saucepan, combine vinegars, sugar, and salt.  Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt.  Fill jars with hot liquid and screw lids onto the jars.  Let cool to room temperature then refrigerate.  Garlic should be ready to eat in about 3-4 weeks and will keep in the refrigerator for about 4 months.

Other Summer Fest Attendees Celebrating Garlic:

How You Can Join in Summer/Fall Fest 2010

Summer Fest 2010 Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? You can contribute to our online recipe swap in various ways, big or small.

Contribute a whole post, or a comment—whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer/Fall Fest post on my blog, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.

The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. Yes, copy and paste them everywhere! That way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. Everyone benefits, and some pretty great dialog starts simmering.

Or think bigger: Publish entire posts of your own, if you wish, and grab the juicy Summer Fest 2010 tomato badge (illustrated by Matt of Matt Bites), or the new pumpkin version he just did if it’s for September 22 onward.

Summer/Fall Fest 2010 Posting Schedule

7/28: Cukes and Zukes
8/4: Corn
8/11: Herbs, Greens, and Beans
8/18: Stone Fruit – I missed this one!
8/25: Tomatoes

9/1: Sweet and Spicy Peppers
9/8: Garlic
9/15: White (or colorful “white”…but not sweet) Potatoes
9/22: Spinach
9/29: Apples

10/6: Fall Salads
10/13: Pumpkin + Winter Squash
10/20: Pears
10/27: “Mad Stash” (as in what you’re shoving in freezer/jars/dehydrator, etc.)

11/3: Root veggies
11/10: Brassicas: incl. Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Cabbage or other
11/17: Sweet Potatoes
11/24: Bounty to Be Grateful For

  1. melissa

    I have a whole mess of garlic in the pantry waiting for me to do just this. My husband and two older boys *love* spicy pickled garlic.

    3:56 am  Sep 8th, 2010
  2. Jodi

    Hmm….something to try!?! Looks delicious! Love the photos.

    5:23 am  Sep 8th, 2010
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  5. Prerna@IndianSimmer

    That’s exactly how we pickle garlic in Indian kitchen. Just add a little coriander and a little fennel powder and you’ve got an Indian pickle.
    Here’s what I did with garlic this week

    7:23 am  Sep 8th, 2010
  6. Ranjani

    I’ve never tried pickled garlic, but it sounds interesting. What do you eat it with?
    This week I made garlic soup with poached eggs:
    So glad summer fest is still on!

    7:42 am  Sep 8th, 2010
  7. Sean

    Gorgeous as always! Would you pretty please post it to Punk Domestics? You’re a love!

    8:37 am  Sep 8th, 2010
  8. Caron Golden

    I love pickled garlic and this looks like a great approach. No need to process the jars?

    9:14 am  Sep 8th, 2010
  9. Nancy@acommunaltable

    Another great condiment to add to my refrigerator!! Great info. on garlic preservation as well!!
    Caron, if you wanted to store the jars at room temp. then processing the jars would be in order but heating the garlic to that temp destroys some of the flavor which is why it generally isn’t done non commercially. Storing in vinegar in the refrigerator is not such a problem because vinegar is acidic and isn’t a low oxygen environment. Problem with storing in oil is that it is a low oxygen/ low acid environment which bacteria love.

    So glad garlic was featured this week – my contribution is a Caramelized Garlic Pilaf

    Can’t wait to see what everyone else comes up with!

    10:17 am  Sep 8th, 2010
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  11. Deborah (The Food Psychologist)

    I’ve never tried pickled garlic, but it sounds good. I’m curious to see what you’ll pair it with!

    This week I wrote about the health benefits of garlic:

    10:28 am  Sep 8th, 2010
  12. Jenna

    Mmmm–I grew up in Spain, and we used to eat pickled garlic as an appetizer. Let us know how they turn out! I’d love to make this.

    10:35 am  Sep 8th, 2010
  13. naomi

    I have never pickled garlic, but love it. Thanks for adding the resource from UC Davis

    11:45 am  Sep 8th, 2010
  14. napa farmhouse 1885/diane

    i love pickled garlic…and yours looks delicious. thank you for the tip. i posted a couple of recipes using garlic, tomatoes and grilled bread and included pa amb tomaquet

    12:06 pm  Sep 8th, 2010
  15. kickpleat

    I love pickled garlic! Looks easy and I love the cute little jars. You can also plant your garlic in the fall and then pick it come July. I plan on doing that with some organic garlic from the farmer’s market (I think the stuff from the store gets treated so it won’t germinate).

    12:18 pm  Sep 8th, 2010
  16. lory.b

    Una bellissima idea!!!!!
    A presto!!!!

    12:38 pm  Sep 8th, 2010
  17. Kathleen

    I will definitely try this. Would love to see that in my kitchen. My contribution for Summer Fest this week is Garlic Chicken.

    3:13 pm  Sep 8th, 2010
  18. Stephanie @ Dollop of Cream

    Your garlic photos are so beautiful and golden. You are inspiring me to get pickling!

    My contribution to Fall Fest this week is a gentle nudge to plant your own garlic. It’s so very easy!

    5:39 pm  Sep 8th, 2010
  19. Kim

    And I JUST bought a jar of pickled garlic from the farmers market for my parents. They look awesome and I hope they turn out good!

    9:52 pm  Sep 8th, 2010
  20. kelly

    Saw this on FB and was totally intrigued. Man I less than love peeling garlic, but will do it every time to end up with something heavenly. This looks like it would be.

    11:58 am  Sep 9th, 2010
  21. Lana

    I love garlic in any form, but I have never tried pickled garlic. With your straight-forward recipe I am sure I’ll try it – the simplicity and the combination of the flavors work for me!
    BTW, I bought a bunch of serranos to pickle them. I’ll let you know how they turn out:)

    I went into a grilling fizzy, and made Grilled Peppers, Grilled Eggplant, and Roasted Beets with garlic and Vinaigrette.

    5:10 pm  Sep 9th, 2010
  22. bubble&squeak

    I love pickling garlic but I don’t eat it myself. I make it for the rest of the family. Pickling does some great things to the garlic – they kind of end up crunchy in a squeaky sort of way. Pickling also takes some of the ‘stink’ out of fresh garlic so that even people who don’t like garlic can eat it happily. I’m bad sometimes and add a whole bunch of fresh chilies too and some salt to bring out the flavour.
    Probably not a good idea for those on low-sodium diets.

    1:00 am  Sep 10th, 2010
  23. art and lemons

    I’ve never had pickled garlic and I think it’s time to change that! I also happen to have chiles on hand..

    I made sofrito to celebrate Fall Fest’s garlic week:


    6:25 am  Sep 10th, 2010
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  25. Chef Louise

    I’ve never had pickled garlic before, unless I ate it on accident. I can always expect you to give us something creative-good job. I did a review on some new Wine Flour Pasta along with garlic for Summer Fest.

    ~Caberneti Spaghetti Nests with Crispy Egg and Golden Garlic
    ~Chef Louise

    1:07 pm  Sep 10th, 2010
  26. Emily

    I’ve never had whole garlic pickled… The minced garlic I had was in vinegar though and it gives it a slightly different taste!
    I’d have been tempted to roast it along side a chicken and eat garlic with hot roast chicken.
    Friend was discussing with me recently about jars and how they found it hard to get the new lids these days…
    I just recycle old jam jars – we seem to use an inordinate amount of jam here!

    8:05 am  Sep 11th, 2010
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  28. Rachel

    Just noticed Summer/Fall Fest 2010… how fun! I guess I missed Summer Fest but I’m excited to participate in Fall Fest! Going to look for something to make with apples right now…

    8:20 am  Sep 22nd, 2010
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  30. HungryCook

    Thank you for including the link to the UC Davis garlic info! I made garlic steeped in olive oil a few years ago and it was delicious, but apparently I was at risk of botulism poisoning! Good to know for the future. Might have to try it in vinegar instead.

    5:27 pm  Sep 28th, 2010
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  32. Johanna

    Hello–just curious, how did the pickled garlic turn out? I searched your site but didn’t see a follow up. Are there any changes to the original recipe that you’d recommend? Thanks!

    6:42 am  Jul 7th, 2011
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  36. Michael

    Hello–just curious, how did the pickled garlic turn out? I searched your site but didn’t see a follow up…

    8:22 pm  Apr 14th, 2012
  37. Jaclyn

    Hi there, I was just wondering instead of the white wine vinegar could you just use pickling vinegar.

    12:36 pm  Dec 5th, 2012
  38. kimek

    Really nice pictures. Pickled garlic is my favourite, it can be fantastic with this spicy chili.

    11:37 pm  Dec 28th, 2012
  39. mara

    Found your post hunting around for ideas to hurry along an old favourite. As for your recipe: Gorgeous photos and love the added peppers for flavour and beauty.

    But… I learned how to pickle garlic from my partners Persian mother some 25 years ago. She merely peeled garlic (by the boat load!!) and filled gallon jars full of them and poured them full to the top with red wine vinegar and put them away in a cool dark place…. FOR YEARS!! I recently stole into a jar a bit early (about 5 years) and though lovely they were not complete.
    Never heard of a botulism problem (and I was versed greatly in these issues as a child while helping my own mother can and preserve). The garlic preserved this way will turn a lovely deep brown and become sweet as you can imagine, and the vinegar is divine!! 7 years is the usual waiting time so you can see why I was hunting down a more hurried recipe, hoping if maybe heating the vinegar or vinegar with the garlic would produce faster results. I don’t believe the same result would come from storing this in a refrigerator sadly.
    A favourite way of eating it is merely cooked basmati rice fried with olive oil and saffron, served over crumbled feta cheese with the garlic on the side…. HEAVEN!

    Would really love an update to how yours turned out… I know from time to time she’s used white wine vinegar to pickle but never has quite the same depth of flavour to me.

    3:24 pm  Oct 18th, 2013
  40. Desjay

    A super fast way to peel garlic is to put an entire head of garlic into a mason jar, put the cover on, and shake it very hard for about 30-45 seconds.
    All the cloves will be separated and peeled.

    Give it a try, you’ll be amazed.

    6:31 pm  Jan 12th, 2014
  41. Adi

    Hey there,

    I’m quite new to cooking and I never really pickled anything. Lately I ate in a restaurant garlic pickled with white wine and dried chili, and now I’m trying to do it myself at home (sadly, I don’t have the recipe).

    Is it ok to pickle the garlic with dry white wine alone (without any vinegar)? If it’s possible do I need to cook the wine? how is it different from doing it with vinegar?


    4:29 am  Feb 11th, 2014
  42. gary donaldson

    I have pickled some garlic for the first time is it ok if it has turned light green?

    2:36 am  Jan 17th, 2015
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