Canning garlic isn’t usually done, but there are some circumstances where it might be worth a try.
Garlic is one of those crops that usually keeps well on its own. Harvest it in the late fall, braid it and hang it to dry before keeping it all winter in a cool, low humidity environment. The trick is…most vegetables and fruits want a high humidity root cellar. To properly root cellar garlic, you need a completely different root cellar environment, and the book Root Cellaring actually recommends having two completely separate root cellars. Who has space for that?!?!
If your house is moist, or you live in a humid climate, storing garlic can be a challenge.
Garlic is a low acid food, like onions. Garlic can only be canned in a pressure canner. Even then, methods of canning garlic haven’t been tested by the USDA.
Garlic tends to lose flavor when it’s cooked for extended periods. If you’re pressure canning it, it’ll be cooking hot for a good long time.
According to the USDA, “Canning of garlic is not recommended. Garlic is a low-acid vegetable that requires a pressure canner to be properly processed. Garlic loses most of its flavor when heated in this way. For this reason, adequate processing times have not been determined for canning garlic.”
The USDA has not bothered to test canning times for garlic, but just because they haven’t explicitly tested it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with canning garlic. This is one of those places where you need to use your best judgment, and acknowledge that if you are going to attempt to can garlic, that you’re not using a USDA approved method.
In theory, you could can garlic using the same method that’s approved for onions. They’re in the same family, and they’re similar in texture and composition. The recommended canning time is 40 minutes at 10 pounds pressure for both quarts and pints. Any whole onions need to be pearl onions, no bigger than 1 inch in diameter. Otherwise, the onions should be chopped. They also recommend adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each pint for flavor, but it’s not necessary for preservation.
If you want to try pressure canning garlic (at your own risk), try the recipe below.
Canned Garlic Recipe
A basic recipe for pressure canning garlic. This method is not approved by the USDA.
- 2 cups garlic cloves peeled
- 1/2 tsp salt optional
- boiling water
Peel the garlic, and chop any extra large cloves.
Pack a pint mason jar with garlic cloves, leaving at least 1 inch of headspace.
Add one-half teaspoon of salt directly to the jar (optional).
Fill the jar with boiling water, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Attach 2 part canning lids and seal to finger tight.
Process in a pressure canner at 10 pounds of pressure for 40 minutes. Adjust pressure to altitude if you're above 1000 ft in elevation.
Again, just a reminder that there is no USDA Approved method for canning garlic, and if you choose to can garlic, you do so at your own risk.
Canning Pickled Garlic
This year, I hope to test whether not pressure canning garlic causes it to lose its flavor. The reality is though, pickled garlic might be a better option. Anywhere I’d want to use canned garlic, a simple pickled garlic would work just as well. The acid from the vinegar brings out the garlic’s flavor, and a little extra salt added to my cooking is easy enough to balance out.
To can pickled garlic, make a brine with equal parts vinegar (5% acidity) and water. Add salt, somewhere between 1/2 to 1 tablespoon per cup of water, depending on your preferences. Add in spices of your choice. Peppercorns are a particularly good choice for pickled garlic. You can also make dill pickled garlic by using this basic dill pickle recipe.