Country Living Series

Monday, October 10, 2011

Canning garlic

It was past time to harvest my garlic.


Can you see how dry and brittle the stems are?


This is the garlic, if you remember, that I planted in the snow late last year. Of the 100 cloves I planted in the half-frozen ground, about 40 made it. Not bad considering the adverse circumstances under which they started.

I began digging the ripe garlic with a trowel, but soon switched to a shovel.


And oh my gosh. It. Was. Gorgeous.


I mean seriously, it seemed each head was more beautiful than the last.


I believe it was reader Janet in Massachusetts who suggested I snip the heads (scapes) off the stems to encourage better growth, so I'll take this moment to thank her for the advice. It sure worked!

I ended up with a full bucket of garlic.


My preference in garlic is porcelain-neck garlic. Rather than having cloves that get smaller and smaller as they come toward the center, porcelain-neck garlic has between four and eight large cloves which snap off easily from the brittle ("porcelain") center stem.


First step was to remove all the cloves from the stems.


Here's all the leftover stuff, which went in the compost pile.


Then I pulled aside 120 of the smaller cloves for planting. Cloves don't have to be big to produce a nice plant.


Most of the remaining cloves were huge! For purposes of comparison, I put an egg next to some of the largest cloves.


Next I peeled the garlic. I know you can peel garlic easily by whacking a clove with the flat side of a knife, but frankly these cloves were too big. Besides there wasn't all that much of it, so I just peeled it by hand. Nipped off the tip with a knife, peeled the papery skin off.


I ended up with a nice bowl of beautiful pungent peeled garlic.


Then I cleaned the cloves, gently using a green scratch pad to remove the dirt. (Blurry photo, sorry.)


I ended up with three pounds of garlic.


What to do now? There are a number of ways to preserve garlic, but I wanted to can it minced. I seldom use fresh garlic, but instead buy minced garlic. As always, I think to myself, "If they can do it [meaning, canning minced garlic] then I can do it."


Trouble was, I could find no reference to canned garlic in any of my canning books, so I wasn't sure how long to process it. Garlic is low-acid and so it would need to be pressured canned -- that much I knew -- but for how long?

I turned to an expert named David Blackburn with a website called CanningUSA.com. Mr. Blackburn suggested I process garlic the same as processing onions: 10 lbs pressure (12 lbs for our elevation) for 45 minutes for pints.

So I minced the garlic.


Then, following the directions for how to can onions, I put the minced garlic in a pot (without heat)...


...boiled some water...


...and added the boiling water to the garlic.


I didn't "cook" the garlic -- I just let it parboil in the water for about five minutes.


After that I filled my jars. Three pounds of garlic yielded just a bit less than five pints of minced. I topped off the jars with the garlic-y water in which the minced garlic had parboiled.


Mr. Blackburn suggested I add a Vitamin C tablet (ascorbic acid) to each jar as a preservative. We didn't have any Vit. C in the house, so I bought some... but mistakenly purchased the orange-flavored chewable type. Figuring that wouldn't work so well with garlic, instead I added a quarter-teaspoon of citric acid, which I keep on hand for cheesemaking.


Scalding my Tattler lids.


Into the canner... five lonely little pint jars in a canner that holds eighteen.


I held the pressure at 12 to 13 lbs for 45 minutes.


The garlic came out beautifully, though oddly it turned greenish in color. Perhaps it was the citric acid? I haven't opened a jar yet so I cannot attest to the taste, but I have no worries. I anticipate it will have a nice fresh sharp bite.


I haven't yet planted the 120 cloves I held back -- I hope to do so this week -- but at the moment I'm quite pleased with my experiment in canning garlic.

73 comments:

  1. Though I do not eat garlic I think you for this post as members of my preparedness group do and they will love having this on the table and in their food.

    A. Pippin
    Seattle

    ReplyDelete
  2. Patrice,

    I consulted a dozen garlic, food, and preservation sources and they all said the same thing. (See below.) Although more prevalent when pickled, green or blue garlic must be fairly common. And all described it as safe to eat. Nothing jumps out as being your specific situation, but you would know better than I. Here's the common explanation(s):

    "Garlic is known to contain sulfur compounds which can react with minute traces of copper to form copper sulfate, a blue or blue-green compound. The amount of copper needed for this reaction is very small and is frequently found in normal water supplies. Raw garlic contains an enzyme that if not inactivated by heating reacts with sulfur (in the garlic) and copper (from water or utensils) to form blue copper sulfate. The garlic is still safe to eat.

    If fresh garlic is picked before it is fully mature and hasn't been properly dried, it can turn and iridescent blue or green color when in the presence of an acid. It may be caused by an allinin derivative.

    A reaction between garlic's natural sulfur content and any copper in your water supply, or in the cooking utensils your are using (such as cast iron, tin, or aluminum) can sometimes change the color of garlic.

    The other sources of copper might be butter, lemon juice, or vinegar.

    Garlic will also turn green (develop chlorophyll) if exposed to an temperature change or is exposed to sunlight. Some people say it can be stored for 32 days at or above 70 - 80° F to prevent greening (but I'm not yet sure that is true).

    Are you using table salt instead of kosher or canning salt? That can cause the garlic to turn blue or green. Table salt contains iodine, which discolors whatever you're pickling. Use kosher or pickling salt.

    Different varieties or growing conditions can actually produce garlic with an excess natural bluish/green pigmentation (anthocyanins*) made more visible after pickling."


    Jeff - Tucson

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. great detaled info friend.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for this information. I've been searching for the logic of my green/blue garlic when I cooked it with lemons. Was afraid to eat it but now I'm good!

      Delete
  3. Interesting. I'll be curious to see how it turns out.

    We're planting garlic this year and like you, I also mainly use garlic in the minced form. I was thinking of dehydrating mine.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm sorry Patrice, but WHY did you go to the effort of canning it? I keep all my garlic all year, into spring, in my basement (my cold DRY cellar - I have another cold DAMP cellar for other things) with my squash. It's much less work. Just grab a clove and put it through the garlic press when you need minced garlic.

    I'm all about avoiding work if possible. I just canned my first tomato sauce (froze the cut up tomatoes earlier this summer) this weekend and decided SO not worth the extra time of canning (40 minutes a batch!?!?! for BWB) and will be just saucing then freezing the rest.

    Root cellar, root cellar, root cellar!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not every one has a root cellar or basement. Garlic, onions and potatoes sprout in days here unless stored in the frig and I don't have that much room in there.

      Delete
    2. I buy jars of minced garlic all the time. The way I use garlic it would just be ludicrous to peel and squish or chop the cloves each time I wanted it. Open jar, scoop heaping spoon-full(s) into whatever, close jar, done. I suppose if I didn't work a full time job and have a farm full of chores waiting for me when I got home, I wouldn't mind taking the time to play with garlic. I never thought of canning it myself 'till I ran across this blog. Thank you!

      Delete
    3. Also if you freeze most things.... what if your power goes out for several days. Both fridge and freezer stuff need to be used up before it all thaws and goes bad. Besides... canned tastes SOOO much better than frozen!

      Delete
    4. I have a smallish freezer and have a small farmer where I get a 1/4 side of beef and 1/2 hog so no room for anything will be trying the garlic

      Delete
    5. I live in marsh land. It isn't dry here... almost never.. COASTAL. My garlic will mold.

      Delete
    6. I mince garlic stir a small amout of salt and olive oil. Then i freeze it in tablespoon size balls. Add it to my pan as it warms up.

      Delete
  5. I would have been tempted to roast a little and spread it on warm bread!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow! 120 cloves? How do you keep the voles from having a winter garlic party under the snow all winter? We've had a terrible time protecting our precious garlic from hungry voles.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Answering some questions:

    Jeff, thank you for all the info on green/blue garlic! I had no idea, and I appreciate you looking into it.

    Anon 5:36: We don't have a root cellar, or indeed any cellar at all. Our home is built on a concrete pad, and we don't even have a crawl space. So canning garlic is the easier option for us. Someday we'd like to build a root cellar, but that's a big "someday."

    Anon 6:32, we used to have bad mole problems with our garlic when we lived in Oregon, but for some reason the voles haven't bothered our garlic here in Idaho -- go figure! How we solved our mole problem in Oregon was to remove all the dirt from the raised bed, line the bed with metal mesh (hardware cloth), and re-fill the beds. We never had a problem after that.

    - Patrice

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. was wondering how soon the green showed up

      Delete
    2. Immediately after removing the jars from the canner.

      See this update:
      http://www.rural-revolution.com/2012/12/canning-and-planting-garlic.html

      - Patrice

      Delete
  8. This was my first year planting garlic. I've never been crazy about the taste, but the health benefits are so overwhelmingly good, that I decided to give it a try.

    Now I love it! I'm putting my fresh garlic in everything but chocolate cake. I should have remembered that no produce tastes as good as the produce you sweat to grow yourself.

    I ended up with about as much as you - should last a while, and I have the small cloves to replant, like you. Since I'm a root cellar-dehydrator kind of girl, mine is still curing for storage.

    Garlic rocks! (Does anyone say that anymore?)

    Just Me

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for sharing this Patrice! Please let us know how it turns out when you open it.
    David Blackburn

    ReplyDelete
  10. Don't need a root cellar for garlic.
    Braid it & hang it in the kitchen or elsewhere. It will last from one season until the next without going punky.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It will last if you keep it very cool. I had a large braid that I just cut from the bottom up and it only lasted a couple months BUT it was exposed to the sun in my kitchen window. :(

      Delete
  11. i love the fact that you "can" the stuff that most people are afraid to try or think is weird. i do that too..if something is jarred or canned and on a grocery store shelf, then i am just as determined to do it myself at home..today was carrot day for me..4 qts and 10 pts...gorgeous! i do not have a root cellar, basement or crossbase either and canning is not a waste of time at all...if disaster strikes, or company shows up at the door, everything that is canned is already cooked and ready to eat..i have to watch my hubby carefully..he has a bad habit of sneaking into the walk in pantry and steal a jar of tomatoes to eat right out of the jar with a sleeve of saltine crackers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol! I never knew anyone to eat tomatos from a can with crqckers until I met my husband.

      Delete
  12. Oh Patrice - I understand now and am feeling so very blessed to be where I am. I grew up in the East Coast and am now in the rural East/Mid and have never lived without a cellar.

    Thanks for reminding me of my blessings!

    I will add though, that we put in our first actual COLD & DAMP cellar last fall and I am overwhelmed with how much sense our ancestors had. I hope you have the Bubel's Root Cellar book to look in and dream.

    Anon. 5:36

    ReplyDelete
  13. I pickle my excess garlic. It's quite mild and quite tasty.

    ReplyDelete
  14. http://www.vimeo.com/29605182

    I just ran across this video today in how to peel a WHOLE HEAD of garlic in like 10 seconds. I immediately thought of you!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Anonymous 5:36 - I cannot speak for Patrice, but I do not have a damp root cellar. I wish I did - you are more than welcome to come to my place and dig one for me in my yard of rocks if you'd like to. It's in my 10-year plan if we stay here, maybe. I've tried keeping garlic and onions and apples and squash for a while in our garage, but things start drying out and turning iffy by December to February at the latest. I can keep garlic in my basement until November, then it starts drying out, and by December it starts molding. I'd rather can some of my bounty rather than have to toss it in the compost heap, you know?

    Patrice, have you also canned diced onions? Would it be a similar process/timing? (Hubby got me a 50lb bag of onions in Yakima a few weeks ago, and no way can we go through that many fresh onions before they turn iffy, and I cannot buy a new freezer *just* for onions.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have chopped onions and froze them. They come out with a different feel & soft. They are good for cooking with though. I use a net type bag to store garlic, onion and potatoes in. Plastic is not good as it causes moisture and rot a lot sooner.

      Delete
  16. Lanna, I've never canned onions but there's no reason not to, if you wish. I use the book "Putting Food By" as my canning bible, and it has directions for canning onions. At the suggestion of canning expert David Blaackburn, I used the onion directions for canning garlic. In other words, both are processed the same way.

    Good luck, let me know what happens!

    - Patrice

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'm curious how the garlic turned out - have you used any?

    Great blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been using it all winter -- it's WONDERFUL.

      - Patrice

      Delete
  18. Inviting you the Carnival of Home Preserving on my blog today and every Friday. Hope to see you there. Laura Williams’ Musings http://laurawilliamsmusings.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'll dig my garlic tomorrow. Thanks for ALL this info and posts about garlic and the process of canning it. Jeff's post is quite interesting - noting that copper will make garlic green. Isn't the tea kettle you boiled the water in made of copper? Perfect explanation.

    Our garlic is pretty small this year but we're proud none-the-less. It's our first time to get garlic bulbs larger than a quarter. Thanks for the encouragement to keep after it!

    ReplyDelete
  20. How much headspace for the garlic?
    Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi Patrice
    This looks like a great way to preserver garlic. I am hoping to have a surplus this year. If I do, I will follow your instructions. There are not many recipes on web for canned garlic. Thanks for the recipe.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Please excuse me if you've already answered this question, but about how long should the garlic 'keep' before it has to be opened/used, when canned/preserved like you show here? Thanks! We use a LOT of minced garlic in our household, so it would be great to not have to buy so many jars, although I buy the heads of it at times, too...I imagine the savings would be significant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Canned garlic -- canned anything, really -- will last years. I've eaten ten-year-old canned meat which was just fine. I recently tossed some 13 yr old jars of food which appeared as fresh as the day I canned them (see this post:
      http://www.rural-revolution.com/2012/08/how-long-will-home-canned-food-last.html )

      Garlic is easy to grow (it must be planted in the fall) so a tidy little bed of garlic that you can up as minced garlic should give you some nice results.

      - Patrice

      Delete
    2. I was thinking of using white vinegar and canning salt as a preservative...any comments?

      Delete
    3. I live in rural northwestern Illinois and planted my garlic in early spring - April, I think. It grew wonderfully so if you find you forget to plant it in the fall, have no fear, you still have another shot.:)

      Thank you so much for all the information!

      Delete
    4. I live in rural northwestern Illinois and planted my garlic in early April - it grew beautifully! So if you miss planting in the fall, as soon as you can turn over your soil, you still have a chance.

      Delete
  23. Unfortunately, I don't have a basement or root cellar and live in TX! I cure my garlic and it hangs from my chandelier in the breakfast nook after harvesting (I am fortunate that I can keep my house relatively cool-ish for TX -70 degrees- since my power company is a co-op). It stores well there for at least 5 mo, but then starts to soften. Do you think it would work to can the garlic that has softened, as long as it has no mold spots? I don't have much as at least 1/2 of what I have left is still firm and good after 5 mo, but I would like to salvage what may go "off".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If it's edible, it's can-able. We just canned a bunch of garlic that was past its prime -- we had to cut off bad spots, etc., and it canned up beautifully. I'll be putting up a blog post on it shortly.

      - Patrice

      Delete
  24. I too have a lot of garlic to can...I am thinking about usin jelly jars for it...I also, am going to use canning salt and a teas. of white vinegar as a preservative, any thoughts??...Thanks, Starr

    ReplyDelete
  25. HOW CAN I CAN PICKLED ASPARAGUS! I PUT OUT 200 PLANTS ! I HAD SOME GIVEN TO ME THAT HAD GARLIC AND I THINK VINEGAR!

    ReplyDelete
  26. For canning regular (i.e., not pickled) asparagus, it needs to be pressure-canned at 10 lbs (adjusted for your elevation) for 25 minutes (pints) or 30 minutes (quarts). I don't know how this would differ if you were canning pickled asparagus, but to be on the safe side, I would can it the same way. Like green beans, asparagus has very low acid; you don't want to take chances. Whatever you do, do NOT water-bath asparagus.

    - Patrice

    ReplyDelete
  27. Pickled asparagus does not have to be pressure canned. The vinegar/acid makes it safe for water bath. There are recipes everywhere...just do an internet search. B

    ReplyDelete
  28. How was the garlic when you opened the can?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wonderful. We used every last ounce.

      You might be interested in the post on canning this past year's garlic:

      http://www.rural-revolution.com/2012/12/canning-and-planting-garlic.html

      - Patrice

      Delete
  29. How Long Should It be Processed If I Used Half Pint Jars? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would process it for the same amount of time as pints -- 45 minutes.

      - Patrice

      Delete
  30. Here is an answer to greenish or bluish garlic. http://www.pickyourown.org/pickledgarlic.htm

    ReplyDelete
  31. http://www.pickyourown.org/pickledgarlic.htm Here is a link to answer your questions on how to preserve garlic and why it turned a bluish or greenish color.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I'm so excited to garden this summer! We moved to the country last May and weren't able to garden because of work and unpacking! This spring summer I plan to garden. I'll be getting in the garlic late (possibly very late) but I'm so excited about the potential! I'm wanting to can because if you don't have electricity then a freezer doesn't help at all! Thanks for this post!

    ReplyDelete
  33. You let your garlic go waaaaayyyy too long in the ground. Garlic is best planted right around Columbus day in the fall, throw it in the ground, cover with straw or mulch, and forget it...until mid July (week after the 4th), when the tips start to brown. Don't wait till it's all dry (maybe why you lost so much?).

    So mid July, starting to brown, but still green, dig it up, you'll have lovely 'sealed' heads. Don't clean it yet, hang by bunches, roots and all, out of sunlight until it's dry. Then trim the leaves and the roots, gently peel off only the dirty layer of paper, and most varieties will store dry for almost a year...no need to can.

    Keep out of the dark. Store garlic is treated to NOT grow, so it stays solid for sale...fresh will sprout in the dark, I bunch mine and hang it...

    ReplyDelete
  34. my canner book says to cook onions for 3 minutes at 15 lbs of pressure. 45 min seems long....anybody know for sure?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My canning book says the following about canning onions:

      - Parboil chopped onions for five minutes
      - Pack parboiled onions in jars, top with cookwater
      - Process at 10 lbs pressure (adjusted for your altitude) 25 minutes for pints, 30 minutes fore quarts.

      Hope this helps!

      - Patrice

      Delete
  35. Perhaps the minerals in the water turned the garlic green. Distilled water makes clear pickle brine instead of cloudy with well water.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Patrice, I notice here that you harvested your garlic in the Fall instead of the late Spring, early Summer. I have read, (we are just getting ready to plant our first crop) that it is to be harvested when the stalk is still 2/3's green...bottom 2-3 leaves will have turned brown...and the paper covering is still all in tact.

    Does it make a difference for taste or storage? I did read that you don't have a basement, but do you keep any to have fresh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Where we live, late spring or early summer is WAY to early to harvest. Ideally we harvest in mid-August. Harvesting when the stem is 2/3 green should be fine, though as you've noticed we've harvested much much later and still had a superb crop. (Garlic is very forgiving.) I haven't noticed a difference in taste whether the garlic is harvested when the stems are still green, or when they're brittle and dry.

      Since we don't have a basement or root cellar, I usually can the garlic to preserve it, keeping just a few heads for fresh use.

      - Patrice

      Delete
  37. To keep your garlic clean, always havest when ther are still 2 or 3 green leaves. Each green leaf will be a wrapper that will keep the heas of garlic clean and together.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I love roasted garlic and like you I thought to myself if "they" can pressure can garlic so can I. Like you all I found was you can not can garlic because it is a low acid food. Well so is meat.....and we can that. So this is what I finally settled on. I pressure cook whole pealed cloves with no added liquid. Once they are golden and soft I mix them into a paste. Add them to small 4oz canning jars and process for other dense low acid foods. The garlic becomes darker with a rich caramelized aroma. Lets just say it makes the best garlic bread, swirled into soups and stews it ads a complex flavor that is deep and rich. The down side is I have to can outdoors because the process makes the whole place smell like one big roasted garlic.
    thank you again for your research I too have been looking with very little luck for pressure canning garlic.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I can get a hold of the vitamin c tablets but my question is what milligrams does the tablet need to be for a pint. They come in 250,500, and 1,000 milligrams. So what tablet should I buy? And when canning do I put the tablet on the bottom of the jar and then fill, or fill and then put it in on the top?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would add the lowest amount, i.e. 250 mg, and you might try putting the tablet on top after the jars are filled (processing the garlic will dissolve the tablet and distribute it throughout the jar).

      Vit. C is solely to preserve the color, not preserve the garlic itself. It will still can perfectly fine w/o Vitamin C.

      - Patrice

      Delete
  40. I was wondering if any one here has been plagued with "rust" on their grassy type plants such as garlic, leeks, chives, etc. We had an exceptionally wet spring last year which is when the "rust" first appeared. I was hoping that I wouldn't have to deal with it this year which has been much drier. But I was wrong. I do not use chemicals in my edible garden, but made the exception this time and I did try two different fungicides on the garlic and it did not help. So, I had to pull up all the garlic being careful to throw the stems in the garbage and not in the compost. Fortunately, the garlic was nearly mature and I plan to can it like this article instructs. I will likely have enough to last for several years and am thinking that I might need to keep grassy type things out of the garden for a few years in the hopes that the "rust" will maybe just go away. Just wondered if anyone had any experience with this.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Great info Who wrote the book Putting Food By? Does anyone know how to can the garlic scrapes? Saw recipe in mag but can't find it now. remember the picture you don't cut them up. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  42. garlic turns green or blue due to the metals in your water. Blue usually means your water is more alkaline try using bottled water if the color is not to your liking. It tis not harmful.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I know this is late but I agree with the garlic and color due to metals in the water. For mold try soaking the cloves in baking soda water, this prevents the mold

    ReplyDelete
  44. how do you can whole cloves of garlic?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Take a look at this blog post, which also has a link to an outside website:

      http://www.rural-revolution.com/2015/09/pickle-garlic.html

      Hope it helps.

      - Patrice

      Delete
  45. How do you can whole cloves of garlic

    ReplyDelete