I think this is one of the coolest Pickled Garlic recipes on the internet! Bright, colorful and tasty. In Russian, we call it Marinated Garlic (Маринованный чеснок). The bright pink, almost fuchsia color of the garlic head will be the talk of the dinner table! Eastern Europeans love pickling garlic, a great way to extend the life of whole garlic heads. This was popular way before TikTok discovered it!
Crunchy Pickled Garlic
This is a marinated garlic recipe or a pickled garlic recipe that isn't shelf-stable. That means it has to be kept in the fridge at all times. Why is this relevant to crunchiness? When you make 'canned' garlic, it requires the garlic to be boiled for at least 10 minutes. This amount of heat not only reduces the garlic flavor, but also decreases the crunchiness of your garlic! You don't want mushy garlic! You also need to use young garlic, don't use dried out old garlic.
So to keep your garlic crunchy, it needs to be blanched in boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Prepare a bowl of ice water, filled with ice. Quickly remove the garlic from the boiling water and place into the ice bath. The faster the garlic is cooled, the more crunchy the garlic is.
How to Pickle Garlic
The most important ingredient when pickling garlic is white vinegar. You need a vinegar that is at 5% strength, but in Eastern Europe, vinegars are often at 10% strength. I've adapted this recipe to reflect the more commonly used 5% vinegar found in the west.
To make your vinegar brine, bring water, vinegar, sugar, salt and spices to a rolling boil. Place the garlic and sliced beets in a glass jar. Pour the hot vinegar brine over the garlic and allow it to cool to room temperature. We always kept the garlic at room temperature while it was marinating, but you need to be careful against botulism at room temp. So, allow it to marinate for about 3 weeks in the fridge before it's ready. The red color from the beets will permeate through, leaving bright pink whole garlic. The flavored brine will leave the garlic pickled and tasty.
How to Eat Pickled Garlic
You can use Pink Pickled Garlic just as you would use regular garlic, but that's not how most people use it. Garlic that's pickled properly should still have a nice crunch and garlicky flavor. Add this to your next charcuterie platter, cheese platter, alongside anything you served pickled foods with. I love serving Russian garlic alongside meats and sausages. Any reason to eat garlic for me!
Why is my Garlic Blue?
This is a funny one, sometimes garlic can turn blue or blue-green when you pickle or marinate it. It's a natural process that happens and it is safe to eat. To help minimize it, use salt without iodine, try kosher salt or natural sea salt. Use non-reactive metals. You need this when cooking with vinegar anyways, but don't use cast iron or copper pans or utensils. Enamel is ok.
Pickled Garlic Recipe Tips
- Always keep this refrigerated. This isn't a canning recipe, and garlic is easily susceptible to botulism, so don't risk it.
- Use young and fresh garlic, old dried garlic won't work.
- Adjust your spices to include your favorites. Try cumin seeds, allspice berries, cardamom pods
- If you see any mold or yeast growth, throw it away. Trust your nose, if in doubt, throw it out
- 6 garlic heads are a guide, use as many garlic heads as you can shove into your mason jar, you can double to recipe if you have lots of garlic!
- You can skip the beets and just marinate the garlic. The beets don't add much flavor, but that color! 👍🏻
This is a bright and colorful way to preserve garlic. When I was in Sochi Russia, I made a video of their local central market and you can see they were selling it at their deli. That market was incredible. Since we don't have it sold here, my recipe takes me back. Something different to make during garlic season, kick off your summer pickling with this garlic recipe. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
- 6 heads of garlic trimmed and washed
- 1 small beet
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup white vinegar 5% strength vinegar
- 2 bay leafs
- 10 whole peppercorns
- 2 cloves
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons salt
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch the garlic by placing in boiling water for about 3-4 minutes. Remove and immediately place into iced water to stop the cooking process.
- Peel the beet, and slice into long strips.
- Sterilize a glass jar in boiling water for 10 minutes and allow to cool.
- Firmly pack the jar with the whole garlic heads and the sliced beets.
- Bring water, vinegar, bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves, sugar and salt to a rolling boil.
- Carefully pour the hot brine into the glas jar containing the garlic and beets. Allow to cool to room temperature and place in the fridge for 3 weeks.
- This Pickled/Marinated Garlic must be kept only in the fridge. It is not shelf-stable, and should last a few months in the refrigerator.