Garlic is often cheaper to buy in bulk packs than as individual bulbs – so every now and again I buy a bag or two containing 10 bulbs and spend an hour preserving them.
There are three main methods I like to use: freezing, making garlic paste and preserving in vinegar. You can also dry the cloves in a warm oven and grind them into a powder, but I only do this if baking something else at the same time.
Freezing: Break open the garlic bulb to remove the cloves, and for each clove chop off the ends and peel away the papery skin. You can freeze the garlic cloves whole if you want to use them whole, but I finely chop mine and freeze the chopped garlic spread out thinly (for ease of breaking off a chunk when it’s frozen). You can just pop the frozen chopped garlic straight into the dish when cooking.
Garlic paste must be stored frozen, as home-made garlic paste can cause botulism (due to the low acidity of the garlic, the lack of oxygen in the oil and the warm room-temperature conditions). Commercially made garlic paste is made in sterile conditions with added preservatives and so doesn’t need to be frozen. Home-made garlic paste is easy to use – freeze it in ice cube trays and then scoop a cube out to use in cooking. You can add chilli, lemon or herbs to create different flavours. 1 bulb of garlic oil optional: additional flavourings, such as chopped fresh chilli, lemon zest or dried herbs.
To make it: Break open the garlic bulb to remove the cloves, and for each clove chop off the ends and peel away the papery skin. Put the peeled garlic cloves into a blender and cover with oil, then blend until the cloves have been completely mixed into the oil. Add any additional flavouring you want to use and blend again. Pour the garlic paste into ice cube trays or small airtight containers and freeze.
Preserving in vinegar: This is the easiest method for preserving garlic, provided you have dextrous fingers, with no chopping or blending required. These preserved cloves will keep in the fridge, sealed in the jar, for up to 3 months. When all the garlic has been used up, use the leftover garlicky vinegar, mixed with an equal amount of oil, as a delicious dressing for salad or green vegetables.
You will need: 1 bulb of garlic red or white wine vinegar 1 level teaspoon salt Break open the garlic bulb to remove the cloves, and for each clove chop off the ends and peel away the papery skin. Place the peeled cloves in a small clean dry jam jar with a lid. Pour over enough wine vinegar to cover, add the salt, screw on the lid and shake to distribute.