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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Preserving Garlic*

Garlic Unclad

If you tuned into the Garlic Calendar, then you know that the cloves sense the Winter Solstice, and commence to sprouting, threatening your year's supply of homegrown flavor. But I'm such a procrastinator that I cannot follow my own advice, and it was only in the new year that I got around to peeling and storing the dozens of cloves that were sitting in the garage. Just these couple of weeks had the garlic doing this:

Hot erotic garlic, or just reproduction?

While they're starting on the new cycle that would birth a new plant, the cloves are not yet too far gone (besides, I kinda like the look of slices with the green circle in the center). But before the sprouts get as long as the cloves from which they spring, before the flesh gets soft, before pungent aroma becomes putrid regret, I need to somehow stop the process. In years past, this has been a matter of dropping peeled cloves into a jar and drowning them in olive oil. I did that again, but this time I'm trying a couple of other methods.

Salt and the earth.
Here's experiment #1. Good old fashioned salting. Pour pickling salt into a jar, put in a layer of peeled cloves, then bury them in salt, then more garlic, more salt, get the picture. The cloves are firm, and I did not irrigate, so I don't expect osmosis to create a saline slush, but it's an experiment. For reference, the majority of the cloves in the first photo and a bunch of salt filled a pint jar. I'll check back in later to let you know if this is a fail, but I suspect that what will happen is that the cloves stay intact, and I get a batch of garlic salt.

Experiment #2 is yet to be done. I had a bunch of large-cloved heads of garlic this year; some are elephant garlic, but not necessarily all. The plan is to roast them, smoosh the result, spread it out on parchment paper, and dehydrate it. I'm aiming for something like fruit leather, a hide of garlicky goodness that I can snip into strips or drop into the pot whole whenever I want that twice-roasted garlic flava.

Winter Morning Sun Dawns on Evening's Leavings

And then there's this, the old standby: cloves in oil. Chopped or pureed garlic tastes harsh and goes bad quicker. Drowning while cloves in oil and keeping them out of direct sunlight seems to halt the sprouting process. I'll remove the rubber gasket from the jar above so that the occasional fermentation fart can escape. In time, the cloves will soak up the oil and become beautifully translucent, edible amber. 

There are other ways to preserve garlic, but I don't like them (pickling? I just throw some in the cuke pickles I make, and that's plenty for my taste), or I don't know them. If you want to write in with others, I'll listen.

So if you have not yet dealt with your garlic, do it now! 

* [For whatever reason, it took me a month to think of my Greenstead post as food-ish, and post it here.]