Chinese Pickled Garlic 醃蒜頭
By Ellen L.Published: 2015-03-30
Ah, garlic! That humble culinary bulb, the stinking rose! People always say that garlic is one of those things where either you love it or you hate it. For myself, I have found that my personal relationship with garlic fluctuates. Sometimes, in some forms, I love it! And sometimes, in other forms, I can find myself avoiding it. I can't imagine cooking without it and yet, when I was pregnant and for a long time after, I could not stand raw garlic. And then I swing back, ruminating on the creamy flavor of garlic after a deep slow long roast...or the flavor layers one smashed bulb can add to a simple stir fry! One thing I have always found harder to like is raw uncooked garlic. Recently we decided to try making Chinese Pickled Garlic, or 醃蒜頭, and I was really, really pleased to find that this sweet vinegary pickled garlic is not only immensely more yummilicious than raw garlic, but also packed with great health benefits and you also end up with the most amazingly garlicky flavored vinegar syrup in the world!
The main reason that we decided to try making pickled garlic was because my little girl developed an abscess on her gums. I researched information for healing tooth abscesses and garlic came up the most often as a natural remedy. Garlic has amazing antibiotic properties. For tooth abscesses the garlic is used raw and rubbed right on the abscess. Which stings like crazy let me tell you! And my brave little girl did the best she could with raw garlic in her mouth but the sting was too much for her. So I thought to let her try eating pickled garlic instead. No sting and way more delicious! The best thing of all is...one pickled garlic a day for a couple of months and her abscess is finally gone!
The whole family is eating a pickled garlic a day. It's great for so many things, it's like popping a super vitamin!
It's really easy to make Chinese Pickled Garlic. Get the freshest garlic bulbs you can find, let them soak in cool water, then salt it for a couple of days and then let your cloves swim in a vinegar sugar mix for a long sweet bath. Wait it out for at least a month and a half to let the garlic transform itself into a mild, slightly sweet, creamy yet crunchy pickle. And best of all the stink is almost all gone! I wouldn't eat it right before going out but one garlic pickle in the evening is perfect. Just brush your teeth and the smell of garlic is pretty much gone! Not like raw garlic which smells up your breath all through the next day.
Don't be alarmed if your lovely pickled garlic cloves turn a bit blue green. This is perfectly natural and you can eat the beautiful blue green ones same as the white ones! (They look like mermaid food!) This coloration is the result of the garlic's reaction to different substances it is in touch with. So if you want to discourage the color change use distilled water, non iodine salt and non reactionary bowls and utensils (glass, porcelain, wood) throughout the process.
One unexpected delight from pickling these lovely garlics was that you end up with an amazing heavenly garlic infused vinegary syrup. It's OH MY GOD so good (seriously, I mean this) that I've been sneaking yummilicious spoonful after spoonful and...woohoo! It's just finger lickin good! I am so excited to have this delicious new condiment available in our kitchen! It is just perfect for drizzling on Chinese cold dishes like Chinese Cucumber Salad 拍黃瓜 or Chinese Steamed Eggplant 蒜蓉蒸茄子.
Delicious garlic pickles and heavenly garlic infused vinegar syrup...what more can one ask for?
3-4 heads garlic
2 tsp salt (without iodine)
1 cup rice vinegar (with the mother if possible*)
1 cup raw sugar
Peel off outer layers of garlic skins until only the skin on the separate garlic cloves are left. Rinse the cloves well under running water. Soak in cool distilled water for a day, changing the water a few times. Remove cloves from water, drip dry, spread out on non reactive dish, sprinkle with salt. Let sit in a cool spot for 3 days, turning over a couple of times a day.
Drain well and place into a clean dry air-tight glass jar. Mix the vinegar and sugar well in a bowl until sugar is melted. Pour into the jar until the garlic cloves are covered. Use a small porcelain dish to weigh the cloves down so that all the cloves are immersed in liquid. Close the air tight lid and keep the jar in a dark corner for 1 month and a half. Remove skins before eating.
Tip: Use clean dry chopsticks to pluck out the garlic cloves to prevent contamination of the jar.
Tip*: For the most beneficial effects, use a vinegar that has the mother. See our post on Homemade Rice Vinegar Health Drink 健康米醋飲品 to find out more!
More Garlicky Delights at The Hong Kong Cookery:
Chinese Steamed Eggplant 蒜蓉蒸茄子
Stir Fry Chinese Pea Shoots 炒豆苗
Steamed Scallops over Glass Noodle 蒸帶子