This weekend I made several jars of fresh new garlic preserved in olive oil. It is a very tasty condiment that allows you to use healthy garlic all year long.
Garlic is an ingredient that has its fans and fiends. It is a healthy bomb of vitamin, some find it tasty and others hate the smell, in particular afterwards on the breath of others.
I like garlic and use it a lot. The harvest is in June and July and I found a mountain of fresh garlic at a market in Dieppe – not really known for the garlic culture.
In France there are four kinds of garlic, basically either spring or autumn garlic, white, rose or violet, and almost 30 varieties.
There is limited production in the Pas de Calais region (and those were sold in Dieppe) but most is in the south of France including the famous Rose de Lautrec from the Tarn region. There is also a concentration in the Drome area. Germidour and Messidrome are the most widely available varieties in France.
Garlic is grown from a clove, just like some other bulbous plants and flowers.
The clove gets roots; a stem grows out of the ground while meanwhile the clove multiplies to become a new bulb.
The bulbs are harvested by pulling the stems with the bulb attached out of the ground. In France and some other countries, the dried stems are sometimes used to weave several bulbs together in decorative tresses.
One harvested, the bulbs will start to dry. The trade keeps the bulbs at a constant temperature and degree of dryness to be able to sell bulbs through the year. At home, bulbs can be kept in special garlic storage pots (clay pots with holes) or in jars with oil or vinegar.
The drawback of raw garlic in oil or vinegar is that it does not keep very long and risks developing botulism.
An age-old solution is to cook the fresh garlic and keep it in oil. That way it can keep for many months and you can take a few cloves, and oil, when you need it with meat, poultry or fish. It can also be blended for a garlic sauce base for cod or other white fish, and you can reheat it with dried or fresh peppers for a pasta sauce.
- Two kilo’s of garlic
- One litre of olive oil
- Some dried herbs
- Take the cloves from the bulbs. You do not have to peel the dark skin from the cloves; it will come off during cooking. But the clove often sheds the peel when you pull it from the bulb.
- Put the peeled cloves in a large pan, add one litre of olive oil (or more, the cloves need to be submerged).
- Add some herbs like thyme, bay leave, pepper corns, as much or as little you like (I kept it to thyme and bay leave).
- Put the pan on the fire, bring to cooking point, stir and reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking for at least an hour.
- Let it cool.
- The next day, there will be a translucent film on top of the oil – that is the accumulated skins of the cloves. Remove it with a slotted spoon and discard.
- Put the cloves in clean jars and pour the strained oil over it.
You can add herbs to the jars as well.