My sweetheart Peggy introduced me to the use of marinated garlic in her recipe for Tasty Ladies, a fine appetizer recipe now in Food Nirvana. The cost of that garlic was/is prohibitive at the store she used as a supplier so we decided we should make the marinated garlic ourselves. A brief search of the Internet provided different recipes and we selected and modified the one that looked most promising. In general, garlic is marinated to add interesting flavors and to reduce the potency of the garlic itself.
We made the marinated garlic as shown below and we decided the recipe is pretty good, but we have to wait a few days for the brine to fully penetrate the garlic cloves to make our final decision on keeping the recipe as shown or modifying it. Either way the result will be a very nice and easy recipe for you to make the garlic, and you are free to modify the amounts and variety of flavoring spices to suit yourself. We wanted a mildly flavored garlic that will be complementary when used in the Tasty Ladies recipe, ergo garlic that does not mask or interfere with the flavors of the other ingredients in that appetizer. A more strongly seasoned garlic can be appropriate for other uses and you can find numerous Internet recipes if that is what you want.
I decided to use this recipe as a medium to demonstrate some special food preparation techniques. One is the use of stainless steel equipment to avoid unwanted chemical reactions. The second is the use of sodium benzoate as a food preservative. The third is the use of pasteurization to sterilize a product without boiling it in order to preserve the texture of the food. Only the first technique is essential to this recipe. The other two are techniques you should learn and use often to enhance the quality and utility of some of the foods you prepare. Beyond those three considerations, I have listed the optional use of a very tiny amount of food grade calcium chloride, which will make the pickled garlic cloves crisp in the same manner as it does for garlic dill pickles. Note that you must have a very sensitive reloader scale like the one I bought at Cabela's® to measure out the calcium chloride in fractions of a gram. If you lack that type of scale then do not attempt to use calcium chloride as it is poisonous if too much is used.
Ingredients: (makes two 8 ounce jars of marinated garlic cloves in brine)
1 quart of water (we used distilled water ... see the explanation below)
1 2/3 cups of peeled garlic cloves
2 whole peppercorns
1/8 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar (5% acidity) plus 1 cup of (distilled) water
2 tsp. of sugar
1 tsp. of Kosher or canning salt (salt that does not contain potassium iodide, dextrose or any anti-caking chemical like calcium silicate)
1/10th of 1 percent sodium benzoate by weight (optional)
0.3 grams of food grade calcium chloride (optional)
Be sure to use stainless steel utensils and saucepans to avoid discoloration of the garlic (the goal is to keep the garlic white by avoiding chemical reactions with containers like aluminum saucepans and utensils like wooden spoons that might have unknown impregnated chemicals from earlier use in other recipes).
Peel the garlic cloves, cut off and discard 1/8th inch from both ends of each clove, and if there are any cloves twice as large as the average size clove then cut the very large cloves in half, lengthwise.
Bring the water to a boil in a two quart stainless steel saucepan. Note that water varies a lot in chemical content due to natural minerals and even chlorine additions for municipal water supplies. Some of the minerals/chemicals can react with the garlic creating a bluish or discoloring effect. Your water may be fine as is. I believe mine is okay but to be sure there would be no possible effects when making this recipe we used distilled water, which is available at your local supermarket by the gallon.
Add the garlic and simmer on low heat while stirring for only 30 seconds, to blanch but not cook the garlic. Then drain the garlic and set it aside.
Combine the vinegar, 1 cup of (distilled) water, sugar, salt and (optional calcium chloride) in the drained saucepan. Bring the mixture to a low boil, stirring constantly with a stainless steel spoon.
Add the peppercorns and crushed red pepper flakes and boil gently on low heat for two minutes.
Add the garlic and set the heat to very low, causing the temperature to drop to 165 degrees F. If necessary, remove the pan from the heat until the temperature drops to 165 degrees F. Use a candy thermometer to measure the temperature accurately.
Pasteurize the mixture for 15 minutes at 165 degrees F, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain 165 degrees F. Use the candy thermometer to measure and maintain the temperature, varying the heat as necessary and stirring once a minute to equalize the temperature of the mixture within the saucepan. You may have to move the saucepan partially off to the side of the heat to keep the temperature from exceeding 165 degrees F. In practice you will typically have the temperature vary from 163 degrees F to 167 degrees F. It is most difficult to maintain the perfect temperature with the stoves and other equipment most of us use in making recipes of this type.
Remove the saucepan/pickled garlic mixture from the heat and cool it to room temperature, covered.
You may skip the remainder of the recipe instructions below if all you want to do is store the marinated garlic and brine in a tightly covered one pint plastic container in your refrigerator, using all of it within three weeks. Remember to rinse the garlic pieces prior to using them in the Tasty Ladies recipe as rinsing will minimize the taste effect of the vinegar used in making the marinated garlic.
Weigh the mixture with a kitchen scale by putting a one quart stainless steel bowl on the scale and turning the scale power on so that the bowl weight (the tare weight) doesn't affect the reading.
Add the marinated garlic and brine to the bowl and record the weight.
Add 1/10th of one percent sodium benzoate by weight to the mixture and mix well. I use Koldkiss® concentrated sodium benzoate solution and you will find the discussion of how to use it precisely in the Dabbling in Science topic in the Fundamentals section and Technology chapter of Food Nirvana, found prior to the recipe sections. I could provide an exact amount of the concentrate to use with this recipe but that would assume that all of the people who make this recipe will always have precisely the same weight of final product that I obtain, and use only the Koldkiss® product, and making those assumptions would be a bad mistake. Always do your own weight measurements and sodium benzoate addition calculations. For that matter, this advice applies to all chemical preservatives and other special chemicals you might add to different foods, like calcium chloride used when making pickles or ascorbic acid used when making V-8 juice.
If you plan to vacuum seal the marinated garlic then chill the mixture in the refrigerator for three hours.
Divide the mixture equally into two 8 ounce canning jars and vacuum seal the jars, or alternatively can the sealed jar contents for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath, then refrigerate the jars of marinated garlic or store them in your food pantry. Note that vacuum sealing will result in a superior product in terms of texture, i.e., it will not be as soft (mushy) as products that are boiled as part of the canning process.
Note also that the addition of the sodium benzoate protects the marinated garlic from spoiling during pantry storage, but always refrigerate the product once a container of it has been opened.