Pickled garlic in a clay dishAutumn is here and as usual it took me by surprise. Normally, I look out for Spring, Summer and Winter, especially the first snow (I’m a big baby in that respect:)) and although it doesn’t really change anything in my daily life suddenly, I check the calendar now and again, so I know!

Heavier shoes, multiple layers of clothing and umbrella in the bag means you can expect anything because the Autumn can turn into a cold Winter any day at this time of year.
Late winter walks reveal the first signs of spring quite early and you can just feel it in your bones that the Spring is springing your way.
But long days, hot spells, open shoes, abundance of fresh vegetables, fruits, intense fragrance of fully ‘ripe and ready’ in the air, colourful flower displays everywhere, millions of green leaves in millions of green layers so you can’t see the neighbor’s house anymore, open windows and doors, kids laughter outside… all that means Summer and I’m simply too busy to pay attention to the calendar!

Autumn leaves on a conker tree by our house

And there is so much to do! Ever since I was a little girl I remember that there was plenty of vegetables to pickle and fruits to preserve and turn into jams… picking, pulling, sorting, washing, peeling, deseeding, chopping, pushing into jars, canning, pickling… Surprisingly we have never done that with garlic in my family home! But you can pickle pretty much any fruit and veg you like, including onions, so why not garlic?!

How does pickled garlic taste?

Pickled garlic loses some of its kick/pungency, but the flavour and the crunch remains. This is why it works really well on cold platters filled with salty or smoked meats and hard cheese, in salads and as a nibble. By all means you can also cook with it and use instead of raw garlic. There you go! No smelly hands!

How to pickle garlic

How to peel garlic fast and with ease

To pickle garlic you’ll need raw garlic. This recipe will help you to produce 4 jars of pickled garlic. You’re going to need 500g peeled garlic cloves, which is about 10-12 medium size garlic heads. You need to peel every clove and if 1 garlic head has about 8-10 garlic cloves… this is shed loads of cloves to peel – you do the math! You REALLY need to be efficient and peeling clove by clove is just out of question. Check my how to page and peel your garlic in seconds with the help of 2 bowls.

If you don’t own 2 stainless steel bowls, use 2 stainless steel saucepans instead. You can also choose to simply submerge separated from heads garlic cloves in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain, submerge them in cold water and then just pop them one by one by squeezing them out of skins. Easy!

How to pickle garlic

How to pickle garlic in brine

You can pickle garlic at any time of the year, but to me the beginning of fall somehow feels most natural and I’m in the mood for it. Garlic is naturally low in acid and the safest way of preserving it is in vinegar and salt. The rest is flavouring and anything goes. Mustard seeds, dill, dry peppercorns, chilli flakes and bay leaf are amongst the most popular and what I also used in the past.

Things to remember:

Vinegar: For the basic brine you’ll need vinegar, which is 5% or higher.
Salt: Use pickling or kosher salt. Table salt is a no-no as it will turn your brine cloudy, due to presence of anti-caking agents*.
Sterilizing your jars: Although the jars with garlic and brine will land in a hot water bath I always like to sterilize my jars inside out, by simply placing jars and lids in a deep bowl and pouring boiling water over.
Blue or green garlic: Sometimes minerals in water, reactive utensils or iodized salt can change the colour of your pickled garlic to blue or green in parts. This doesn’t affect the flavour and although it looks a bit funny your pickled garlic is still perfectly safe to eat it. (Garlic contains sulfur compounds which can react with minute traces of copper to form copper sulfate, a blue or blue-green compound.)

Happy Autumn Everyone!

Recipe type: How to Pickle Garlic
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: makes 4 jars
  • 300ml white wine vinegar (5% or over)
  • 180ml water
  • 1 tablespoon pickling salt (or kosher salt)
  • 500g (about 10-12 heads) garlic cloves, peeled (check the tips on how to peel garlic quickly above the recipe)
  • 4 bay leafs
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme (I used lemon thyme, but any variation is fine)
  • 4 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons whole, mixed peppercorns (black, green, white, red)
  • 1 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dry oregano
  • 4 slices of lemon
  • 4 feet of kitchen string
Prepare your water bath, jars and leads
  1. Fill a deep, wide pan (deep enough to submerge your jars) with water and submerge a kitchen towel so it covers the bottom of your pan. Set to boil.
  2. Check that there is no rust on your lids and that they are not dented, which could affect sealing process. Replace any lids that you're not happy with. Place 4 jars and 4 lids (separated) in a deep, wide bowl. Boil a kettle and pour hot water slowly into the jars so the water overflows and washes all over jars and lids. When done, using tongs remove jars and lids into a dry, clean kitchen towel and allow to dry off.
Prepare your brine
  1. Combine vinegar, water and salt in another pan and simmer so the salt dissolves completely, take off the heat.
Assemble your pickles
  1. Divide herbs evenly between jars and then follow with garlic. Don't overcrowd your jars by pushing the garlic down. Pour the brine over making sure that the garlic is completely submerged and that there is about 2 cm of free space at the top so that you can place a slice of lemon on the top to help keep garlic under the level of the brine. Using a toothpick release any air pockets if you see any. Seal your jars with lids nice and tight.
Hot water bath
  1. If you are a proud owner of a water bath canner, awesome. I’m not and I use caution, common sense and methods I remember from home to make sure I don’t burn myself with hot water while lowering and lifting the jars in the hot water bath. Wrap each jar in a newspaper (to prevent jars from cracking in case they hit against each other) and tie 1 foot of kitchen string tightly around the top of each jar leaving ends loose, so you can safely and securely lower jars into the hot water bath.
  2. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. When done, cover the top of your pan with a lid and drain the water as you would do with boiled potatoes inside. Cool pickled garlic jars to room temperature.
Store in a cool place for up to 1 year. Open jars should be stored refrigerated.
This recipe was adapted from

*Anticaking agents are a mixture of sodium, aluminium and silicon oxides. They are added to seasonings, including table salt, to help with easy pouring, but they also support many diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. Read “The Healthiest type of salt and why it’s so important” to find out more.

How to pickle garlic
    • Hello Joanna, you are welcome to use apple cider vinegar provided it has 5% alcohol content or over – you can check this on the label of the original bottle.