Saturday, February 12, 2011


Modern research has confirmed what our ancestors believed about the health benefits of garlic. In 1858, Louis Pasteur documented that garlic kills bacteria, with one millimeter of raw garlic juice proving as effective as 60 milligrams of penicillin. Vitamins in garlic, such as A, B, and C stimulate the body to fight carcinogens and get rid of toxins, and garlic may even aid in preventing certain types of cancer. It's sulfur compounds can regulate blood sugar metabolism, detoxify the liver, and stimulate the blood circulation and the nervous system. Read more about garlic history and facts here.

I always keep garlic in my kitchen, usually full heads to be peeled as needed for use in soups, salads, sauces, and dressings. The other day, while shopping at the Sharon Farm Market, I purchased a container of pre-peeled garlic cloves from the produce counter. I used a few, storing the remainder in the refrigerator.  When I realized I wasn’t going to use them all before they went bad, I decided to pickle them.

As with most recipes there are many variations for pickling garlic. This one is quick and easy with balsamic vinegar adding a touch of sweetness.  The pickling juices can be used in homemade salad dressings when the garlic is gone.  Small brown spots will sometimes appear on the pickled cloves, but this is because of the balsamic vinegar,they are still edible.

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2 Cups White Vinegar

¼ Cup Balsamic Vinegar

¼ Cup Sugar

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Bay Leaf

½ Teaspoon Coriander Seeds

½ Teaspoon Mixed Peppercorns

2-3 Small Dried Red Chiles

2-3 ½ Pint Sterilized Canning Jars and Lids


In a non-reactive saucepan, stainless steel is always a good choice, mix vinegars, sugar, salt, spices, and bay leaf over low heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved.

Add garlic cloves to the pan. Increase the heat and bring to a boil.  Cook for 5 minutes.

Using slotted spoon, gently pack garlic cloves into sterilized jars. 

Remove bay leaf from liquid, then pour vinegar into jars making sure to evenly distribute the remaining spices and completely cover the cloves: add more vinegar if necessary. 

Carefully clean edges of jar and seal with vinegar-proof lids. 

Store in a cool, dark place for one month before using. 

Once opened keep stored in refrigerator.  Good for 7 – 8 months.


  1. Have you pickled any garlic yet? It is SO tasty I was eating it straight from the jar the other day!

  2. I find that pickling garlic allows me to eat far more than I might if I had to deal with the after effects of the raw variety. I find no after taste, no bad breath and no body odour problems when eating pickled garlic. I no add pickled garlic to every savoury meal, meaning that I am now eating approximately 10 garlic cloves per day.

    This has certainly aided towards me having a healthy heart, stomach and skin. I will never stop ;-)

  3. Colin - I really like pickled garlic too. I use it directly on salads or in salad dressings, for marinades, or straight from the jar. And I agree, garlic is great for your health, it is one o nature's Super Foods. Check out an article I penned on garlic's history and health benfits at

    Thanks for your comments!

  4. I second your emotion ("I ALWAYS keep garlic in my kitchen."). Things are just not right with the world if I'm down to one or two cloves.

    You should have billed this as two recipes; pickled garlic and garlic infused salad dressing. I love the flavors in your pickling juices.

  5. How many garlic cloves do you use for this recipe?

  6. Helen - I don't think there can be a "set" number of cloves due to variation in size of the cloves. I just fill the jars I have and then add the pickling brine, but I believe I had, more or less, a dry pint of garlic cloves when I put up my last batch. Hope that helps!

  7. I love garlic, but hadn't tried to pickle it on it's own, usually as part of other mixes like Hot Pickled Peppers. Will have to try this, it sounds yummy.

  8. This sounds GREAT! Loved pickled anything, love garlic, so this is a win-win.

  9. Do you think I could boil the liquid, add the garlic and then boil in a water bath for 15 minute or so?

    1. Absolutely, Lynn. You can pack your garlic into the jars and then pour your boiling vinegar over them before processing in a Hot Water Bath if that is the method you prefer. Let me know what you think once you are all done!.

    2. I'm in the process of pickling garlic, about 200 lbs of it (no joke)from a local farmer who wants to sell it. I used distilled vinegar 5% acidity, sugar, peppercorns, mustard seed and bay leaves. After spending numerous hours on peeling it, I found out I can cut off the root end, blanch for 3 min. then a cold water bath and the cloves just "squirt" out of the skins. I'm now wondering what the difference is between white vinegar and distilled it the same thing?

    3. Two hundred pounds, oh my, quite a lot of work but surely worth the effort. I love your simple pickling ingredients. I can also imagine how beautiful all those jars will look lined up clear and bright on the pantry shelf, clear and bright in part, because you are using a distilled white vinegar.

      Vinegar can be made from any fruit or liquid containing sugar. The word vinegar comes from the French words 'vin aigre' which means 'sour wine' (sweet grapes to sour wine), but white vinegars are made when grain, usually corn, is distilled into alcohol.

      To make vinegar, the corn alcohol is combined with water and a few other ingredients. That combination is fermented into distilled white vinegar. Before bottling, the vinegar goes through a filtering process to ensure the purity and clarity of the finished batch.

      The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) require that any product called ‘vinegar’ contain at least 4% acidity, but for canning and preserving, the vinegar needs to be at 5% acidity. This is the most common acidity for distilled white vinegar.

      So there is the long road to the short answer – yes, white vinegar and distilled vinegar are the same thing. Happy Pickling!