In the midst of canning the abundance of produce in the pressure canner, and running out to find some Asafoetida I came across a big beautiful pile of garlic at one of the markets.

Then I remembered from The Preservation Kitchen  a recipe for garlic conserva – sort of canned roasted garlic that thereby gives the owner the power of this mellow magic at a moment’s notice. I seemed to recall the recipe required a lot of garlic to make just 4 half-pints. Since I’ve been enthusiastic about everything from Chef Paul Virant’s  cookbook, and I had the pressure canner out anyway (“anyways” if you’re from Chicago), I decided to give it a try.

So I bought five pounds of garlic.  Yes, so I can be a little impulsive, if unclear about that go read about pulling in the garden.

When I got home, I read the recipe again. Each 4 half pints batch calls for 1lb 14 oz of fresh peeled garlic. OK, I thought, I’ll double it.

I don’t have a kitchen full of help to team peel garlic, while talking about the ball game or weekend plans or happenings. I only have me, an email-writing, phone-calling, check-signing, long-suffering cog in the corporate machine, unaccustomed to the rigors of menial labor.

Have you ever peeled 4 pounds of raw garlic trying to preserve whole cloves?  I strongly recommend you give yourself a couple of hours. While the shake in two bowls method works, – it dirties two bowls, bruises the heck out of the cloves – is not very efficient, and you still have to pick through the dried skins.

The following method worked best for me.

Crush a bulb with the heel of your hand, then separate the cloves.

Put the cloves in a small glass bowl and microwave for 8-9 seconds.

The cloves peeled much more readily, but they did start to cook a little. It doesn’t matter in this application as you’re going to cook them anyway.

Garlic Conserva from Preservation Kitchen cookbook by Paul Viran

Makes 4 half-pints. (I doubled it. Did I say that already?)


1 lb 14 oz (925 g) of peeled garlic cloves
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) kosher salt
3/4 cup (175 ml) of sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (90 ml)vinegar – he calls for champagne vinegar but I have a hard time finding it and when I do, it’s too darn expensive, I used apple cider vinegar for the sweetness


  1. Prepare jars.
  2. In big pot over medium high heat add the oil, when the oil is hot add the garlic and the salt.
  3. Decrease the heat to medium, and cook stirring often until the garlic starts to turn golden brown.
  4. Add the sugar and cook until garlic and sugar start to caramelize.
  5. Deglaze the pan with vinegar and keep cooking until garlic is tender.
  6. If needed add a little water to keep garlic from catching in the pan (I didnt need to)

  7. Put garlic into jars leaving 1″ headspace, wipe the rims, put on the lids and bands
  8. Following manufacturers instructions process in pressure canner  10 minutes at 10lbs pressure. – If you need to learn how, or even get a pressure canner  here is a great resource.
  9. Once cool, store in a cool dark place. If it doesn’t seal – cover with a thin layer of oil and place in the fridge. Use within the next few weeks. I had one that didn’t seal (the only one out of the 50+ jars canned in a long weekend) so I had the chance to taste it.

    GC PAR

    Now I have eight jars of sweet, salty,  soft garlic. It’s  delicious spread on bread (I had to check it!), mashed and incorporated into gravy, salad dressing or added to roasted  meats or vegetables.

    Until next time, Eat Well & Keep Digging!


    *After writing this it occurred to me that this is really the third in a series of posts that started a week ago. I don’t normally post 3 times in a week, but I was so busy trying to get everything done, all the while taking pictures that I discovered the story has an arc. It begins with the harvest, continued with canning up the stuff I grew, and concludes with this cautionary tale of self inflicted garlic overload. It’s not Batman, Lord of the Rings, or half of Star Wars, but it’s my story and I’m sticking to it!