It’s a wonderful time when the frigidness of winter gives way to warmer temperatures! Spring is welcomed by all with open arms! And if you overwinter produce in its whole form, this season also marks the end of winter squashes, onions and garlic. They must be rapidly consumed or spoilage will soon take hold!
Have you ever found yourself staring at an abundance of left-over garlic? If so, you know how it goes: the gentle warmth that descends on the land often causes healthy garlic cloves to send out tender young shoots.
If you re-plant your garlic in the spring, this sprouting is a wonderful way to discern which cloves have life in them. But if you planted the past fall and wish to keep the cloves for consumption, its bad news!
The fast-growing greens will feed on the clove they emerged from, until there isn’t any clove left! If you wish to have a wholesome garlic supply until the fall harvest comes in, something must be done!
An Answer to the Problem
Here’s simple, raw-preserving method that will enable you to keep garlic cloves on hand until the fall crop yields its bounty!
It requires refrigeration, lots of garlic-peeling, a glass jar with a weight and lid plus apple cider vinegar. That’s right! Apple cider vinegar preserves peeled garlic cloves beautifully if stored in refrigerator-cold temperatures.
Note: did you know that apple vinegar, when made from real-and-only apple juice, grows a mother-culture just like kombucha? That if you hold back some liquid with the mother-culture and add it to the following year’s brew, it will speed the fermenting process? Get instructions here: Make Apple Vinegar from Fresh Juice.
Start by peeling your garlic. Depending on the amount available, it can take a while! In order to pass time by, you may want to put on a favorite podcast or plop down in front of a favorite old-fashioned TV show. Better yet, invite a friend to help or listen to a child read as you work!
If possible, avoid crushing or slicing into cloves. Leaving them intact will preserve their texture and lengthen storage life.
As you peel, you may discover mold or bruises on individual cloves. If so, remove them with a knife. If the clove is in poor condition, toss it! Don’t attempt to preserve raw garlic that is badly blemished!
Peel cloves, popping each one in a glass jar as you go. Be sure to use a food-safe container! If filling the jar, be sure to leave 1 inch of head space for a weight and proper submergence. Once the desired amount has been peeled, pour apple cider vinegar over cloves until covered.
Add a small weight to keep garlic submerged. A sterilized rock, vintage glass lid or fermenting weights will do nicely!
Once the weight is in place, top the jar off with vinegar. If using a thin weight, make certain it is also submerged. Add a tight-sealing lid and store your raw-preserved garlic in the refrigerator. You can remove cloves with a clean spoon or fork as needed for culinary purposes! Use within 4 months time.
Note: garlic cloves may take on a blueish tint in the first week or two. Don’t worry! It’s only a enzyme reacting to the mineral compounds found in your vinegar. Cloves are safe to use, yes, even when blue-green in color! After a few more weeks, they (usually) return to normal color. As time passes, cloves will take on a light apple vinegar color and carry more of its flavor.