preserved garlic in extra virgin olive oil

There’s this little gap in the year where for a few months before fresh garlic comes on the market in late spring/early summer, it’s damn near impossible to buy locally grown garlic and the only other choice is that hideous chemical cocktail also-known-as cheap imported Chinese garlic. For a good few years, once the last clove of locally or homegrown garlic had been eaten, we’d simply go without garlic during this time. But last year I got smart and planned ahead, buying up as much locally grown garlic as I could during autumn/winter and preserving it using a couple of different methods.

The first and most simplest way to preserve garlic is to simply peel cloves and freeze them in zip-lock bags. You can grate them from frozen or slightly defrost and chop finely. The results are a tad on the water-logged side, but still a much better alternative to that icky white crap that I refuse to buy. If you’re wondering why I’m so anti this stuff, read this post that I wrote a few years back. Now is also the time to plant your own garlic if you have lovely soil and room in your garden (we’ve tried at our current rental, but the soil’s just no good), it’s one of the most rewarding things to grow and if you haven’t already got yours in the ground, read how to in that post I linked to above.

My second favourite way to preserve garlic for use over the long winter months is by slightly cooking it in a apple cider vinegar mixture to acidify, before covering in extra virgin olive oil and refrigerating. This method is considered a short-term method of preservation, but a few months is usually long enough to get you through the drought…

Lastly, I’ve got a few little bits and pieces to share before I go:
* Here’s a interview I did on Radio NZ recently, if ya missed it.
* Great article in the Waikato Times last weekend. Read online here.
* I shared my favourite sushi recipe over on Food52 the other day! Whoop!
* Here’s a lovely book review, including a few recipes from my cookbook.

xx Emm


Preserved garlic in extra virgin olive oil
Because I like to keep the cloves whole, it does take awhile to peel them! Apparently there’s little gadgets out there that take the hassle out of peeling garlic, but I don’t own one yet! There’s also this little trick that you could try, although I’m not sure it will work for all types of garlic? I may be wrong though.
Makes a enough to fill a 1 litre glass jar.

450g locally grown garlic (bonus points for organic or homegrown), peeled
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon unrefined raw sugar
apple cider vinegar to cover, approx. 500ml
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1-2 fresh or dried bay leaves
Extra virgin olive oil to cover, approx. 200ml

Place peeled garlic, salt and sugar into a medium saucepan and pour over just enough apple cider vinegar to cover. Bring up to the boil and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the garlic is just tender but still firm. Drain well (reserve the vinegar, cool it and use it in dressings etc), and pat the garlic dry on paper towels. Pack into a large sterilised glass jar (or a few smaller ones), add herbs and top up with extra virgin olive oil to cover completely. Seal and store in the fridge for up to 2-3 months. Use the leftover garlic-infused olive oil for dressings.

NOTE: The reason I cook the garlic in vinegar first is to acidify it, hence minimising any chance of the bacteria Clostridium botulinum from forming (which can cause botulism). If however you are still concerned, simply place the cooked garlic and oil into zip-lock bags and then freeze until needed instead of storing in a glass jar in the fridge or just freeze your garlic cloves whole.

* To sterilise jars, clean them in hot soapy water, rinse and place into 120 C/248 F oven for 30 minutes. Stand lids in boiling water for 5 minutes to sterilise.

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    May 14, 2014 at 3:31 am

    I am definitely going to have to do this. I love garlic in all forms and I'm freaking out over this recipe!

  • Shanna Mallon
    May 14, 2014 at 3:38 am

    Emma! These pictures take my breath away.

    • emma
      May 14, 2014 at 5:08 am

      Thanks Shanna! xx

  • rebelwithoutakitchen
    May 14, 2014 at 3:38 am

    Hi Emma – you have to be very careful about botulism when preserving garlic, important to note I think.

    • emma
      May 14, 2014 at 4:56 am

      This is the reason why I cook it in vinegar to acidify first. If you are still concerned, opt for the freezing method instead. Or store this recipe in zip-lock bags in the freezer instead of in a jar in the fridge.

  • la domestique
    May 14, 2014 at 8:52 am

    I do feel that I can't live without garlic, and every year the garlic gap always seems to catch me unawares. I love these tips and can't wait to try them!

  • Robyn B - Modern Day Missus
    May 14, 2014 at 9:06 am

    What a great idea. Yes, I hate that stuff from China. We have just planted the garlic in our veggie patch so fingers crossed!

  • tammi | recipe junkie
    May 14, 2014 at 9:55 am

    I am perpetually homesick, even more so when I hear a good old kiwi accent 🙂 Great interview!
    It's a relief to know that you too had to adapt/adjust to baking gluten free. Baking is in my veins but it's a totally different ball game when g/f is thrown into the mix.

    I am definitely going to try preserving some garlic this season. I can't stand the imported stuff and would rather go without too. Hopefully we won't have to now.

    • emma
      May 15, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Oh I struggled big time when we first changed out diets, don't you worry! You will find your feet love, trust me when I say it does get easier.

  • FoodNerd
    May 14, 2014 at 10:59 am

    I love garlic and wish sometimes I could bath in the stuff! Will have to give those a go,

    FoodNerd x

  • molly yeh
    May 14, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    LOVE GARLIC. and these photos! oh my heavens. ok i am a bad person and i buy pre-minced garlic (i know, i know), but i think this might have me converted…

    • emma
      May 15, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Haha, thank Molly! xx

  • Lord-Darcy
    May 14, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    A trick for peeling garlic from Alton Brown is to take one of the rubber/plastic grip pads that you use to help open jars. Put the garlic inside it, folded over the clove, and roll it on the counter with your palm. There will be a sort of faint crackling noise as the peel comes loose. They do make little tubes of the stuff that does the same thing, but you know how Alton is about unitaskers. =) Works great.

    • emma
      May 15, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      Love the sound of that trick! Thanks for sharing xx

  • lindsey
    May 15, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    yes, emma! there is little more i love in this world than garlic! but i love it so much i rarely do much more than roast or mince it, this is going to have to happen soon!

  • The Life of Clare
    May 15, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    We only use garlic from our garden, if we don't have it, we don't use it. But I would be lovely to preserve some!

  • InTolerant Chef
    May 15, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Great idea indeed, my freezer is full of frozen bags of garlic but this is a much better option xox

  • Axipolitu fula
    May 16, 2014 at 6:58 am

    Can you put olive oil in the fridge ?

    • emma
      May 16, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      You sure can. If it's good quality it will firm up in the fridge, but it's totally fine.

    • Axipolitu fula
      May 20, 2014 at 8:37 am

      Thank you!

  • Sini | my blue and white kitchen
    May 16, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Thanks for teaching me something about garlic today. Didn't know that about Chinese garlic! Will avoid them in the future. Also, this recipe sounds like a winner!

    Have a great weekend, dear Emma,


  • Jill
    May 21, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    I was always scared of the botulism risk…good to know that cooking it is the trick!

  • Chris@talesofakitchen
    May 23, 2014 at 12:12 am

    Indeed, almost everything that is imported into WA is sprayed with growth inhibitors and what not. I recently found out that it applies to some produce coming from the other coast too! Scary stuff.
    I am going to be all over this recipe! Going to the farmers market and getting myself lots of good garlic. Yeeeaaay!
    I tried growing it, but soil is no good and I barely got anything 🙂
    Thanks so much for this recipe. Much needed. xo

  • Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things
    May 27, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Oh snap, I just posted on facebook about Chinese garlic with a link to a post I wrote ages ago too. So good to be able to grow your own. Love your recipe here, especially the tips!

  • Enny
    June 21, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    I'm growing my own garlic this year, for the first time ! Your recipe comes just at the right time, thank you so much !! Greetings Enny

  • chris odell
    May 10, 2015 at 8:55 am

    It is harmful if garlic change blue?

    • emma
      May 10, 2015 at 11:15 am

      Hrmm, I've not experienced that before? My guess would be to chuck it. xx

  • Angela Stephenson
    January 31, 2018 at 3:29 am

    Emma, my daughter wants to make garlic infused olive oil for hostess gifts for her friends. Is it imperative to acidify the garlic before infusing it with the olive oil to insure it is safe for storage. We have been reading about the incidence of botulism and how it can be very unsafe if not acidified. Can you comment to this please?

      January 31, 2018 at 6:58 am

      Hi Angela,
      I’ve not done extensive research myself, but I have worked in many restaurants/cafes where chopped garlic is stored in olive oil without first blanching in vinegar, or garlic infused olive oil is made by simply heating garlic in olive oil, then straining. It was always used quite quickly though, and not stored more than a week or so (in the fridge). That said, when I did a little research into preserving garlic like in this recipe, most people said you lessen the risk of botulism if you blanch garlic in vinegar first, so that’s what I did. You might have to do a bit of research and make that call yourself. xx