How to Preserve Garlic

5 from 16 votes
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preserved garlic recipe
Photos by Holly A. Heyser

I do a lot of pickling and preserving, and I do it for many reasons: To capture abundance, to hold onto seasons past, to transform good into great. It is this last that drives me. Most preserved foods do not outshine their fresh state. Some can be just as good, only different. But a precious few foods undergo a magical transmogrification when they are preserved.

Fresh pork leg transformed into prosciutto is a classic example. As are wine and cheese from grapes and milk. So too with fresh garlic. No matter how much I love fresh garlic, it is but a shadow of these preserved cloves. Eating them for the first time was a revelation, a culinary epiphany: I must have this garlic on hand. Always.

I did not come up with this method of preserving garlic myself. It comes from my colleague Paul Virant, a fellow traveler, cook and preservation junkie who did me the honor of hosting a Hunt, Gather, Cook dinner at his Michelin-starred restaurant Vie in Chicago last fall. It was a wonderful dinner, but Paul was just as eager to show me his preservation sanctum sanctorum, tucked away in an unused room above the restaurant.

Walls of jarred deliciousness rested there. Fruits, green things, sauerkraut. Beets of all shapes and sizes. And a set of jars in the corner stuffed with what looked like roasted garlic.

Paul remarked that they were pressure-canned hardneck garlic cloves; hardneck garlic doesn’t store as well as the typical softneck you get in the supermarket, but it is vastly superior in flavor. So Paul puts up jars and jars of the stuff.

The recipe is from Paul’s book: The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux. Virant’s book is one of two preservation books out now by bona fide chefs; the other, Tart and Sweet by Kelly Geary and Jessie Knadler is also excellent. (As a side note, there is a raft of canning books on the market right now, and I would add one more “must buy” to the current crop of books: Marisa McLellan’s Food in Jars.)

But Paul goes where most other canning books fear to tread: He delves into pressure canning. This preserved garlic cannot be made without a pressure canner.

I simply don’t have words to describe how wonderful this stuff is — imagine roasted garlic that holds its shape, sweet, savory, soft, unctuous and just salty enough for you to want to eat another. And another.

I like to put a few cloves on a plate with other things, as an accent. Or you can spread them on bread. Or toss them in with eggs in the morning. They are a fantastic addition to a pan sauce.

I am posting this now because it is garlic season in most of the country. Fresh garlic is all over farmer’s markets now, and while all fresh garlic is excellent, use the hardneck variety if you can find it. It has a hard central stalk in the middle, and its cloves tend to be larger than those of a softneck.

Garlic heads ready to be preserved
Photo by Hank Shaw

The hardest part of this entire process is peeling the cloves. But that’s not really that hard either. There is a great trick to peeling lots of garlic: Put the cloves in a bowl, top with another bowl of equal size, and shake them vigorously for about 15 seconds. The skins will all knock themselves off. (Here is a video of the process.)

The only other hurdle here is the pressure canner. If you are a hunter, angler, gardener, forager or cook, you really need to get one. They will change your life, in a good way. And all those stories of them exploding are from the 1950s. Modern pressure canners are safe and sturdy. Follow the directions carefully and you will be fine. I admit to being nervous about using the pressure canner the first few times, but I got over it.

If you make this preserved garlic, I guarantee you will, too.

how to preserve garlic
5 from 16 votes

Preserved Garlic

You will need a pressure canner and lots of garlic to make this recipe. I recommend that you grow your own garlic or buy it at a farmer's market, but any garlic will work. Make this in small jars, as a few cloves go a long way in the flavor department. Half-pints are best, and don't go larger than a pint. Using anything larger than a pint could mess up the sealing process -- pressure canning recipes are designed for size and time, so changing the size of a jar can screw up the calculus. Stick to half-pints and pints.
Course: Appetizer, Condiment
Cuisine: American
Servings: 20 servings
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes


  • 5 cups of peeled garlic cloves, about 2 pounds of whole garlic
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup sherry vinegar


  • Turn your oven to 220°F. Place 5 half-pint jars on a baking tray in the oven. (Use clean, unused lids for this recipe.) This will sterilize everything. I always put an extra jar in because yields can be variable; large garlic cloves can change things, so it's best to be ready for extra.
  • In a large saute pan, heat the oil and cook the garlic cloves over medium heat. Sprinkle the salt over them. Cook, stirring often, until they begin to brown. This can take anywhere from 8 to 20 minutes, depending on the heat you're using and how moist the garlic cloves are. Once they are starting to brown, mix the sugar into the pan and continue to cook until it begins to caramelize, about 2-5 minutes.
  • Add the vinegar, turn up the heat to medium-high, and cook this down for a minute or two.
  • Remove the jars from the oven. Pack the garlic and the oil and juices into the jars. Leave 1 inch of headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars and seal.
  • Put your pressure canner on your most powerful burner. Use your finger to wipe a film of oil around the inner edge of the canner, as this will help create an airtight seal; read your canner's directions for more detail on this. Get your tap water as hot as it will go and pour enough water into the pressure canner to come up about 2 inches. Put the jars of garlic into the canner and follow its directions to seal the canner.
  • Turn the heat up to high under the pressure canner and allow it to vent for 7 minutes before setting the weight at the 10 PSI marker. Let the pressure build to 10 PSI before setting the timer. Process 10 minutes for half-pints, 20 minutes for pints. (If you are at altitude, you will need to go up to 15PSI. Follow the directions on your canner.)
  • Turn off the heat and allow the PSI to return to zero before taking the weight off the steam vent. Carefully open the canner, making sure you don't get scalded by the steam. Left out the jars and let them cool before storing them in the pantry.


This recipe makes 2 pints, but I prefer to can them in half-pints. 
Once you make these, the garlic should store in the shelf for a year or more. Keep the jars in the fridge once you've opened them. Want a great recipe using these cloves? Try my Braised Venison Shank with Garlic.


Calories: 119kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 355mg | Potassium: 138mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 3IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Smell is amazing! I can’t wait to try some. My garlic went quite soft and broke down a fair bit.
    Maybe I cooked it too long…

  2. I can’t get enough of this stuff. It’s super easy to make although peeling all that garlic isn’t fun. I ended up buying a 5 pound bag of peeled garlic. I’m using it in nearly everything that calls for garlic. I just put up another 5 pounds! It is excellent in Caesar Salad dressing too.

  3. Curious about the extra step in the canning process, wouldn’t just using warm jars out of the dishwasher (like I do for all my other pressure canning) work ok?

    1. Yes, that would work. Canning jars aren’t really intended for dry heat according to the manufacturers.

  4. Hi from Michigan. Hank, you and I seem to be traveling the same flavor road. Ive been studying Asian food and flavors, and it seems each time I start down a road, you are just ahead of me, breaking trail. So, thanks! Anyhoo, this garlic looks good. I was researching black garlic, which is fermented. This pressure cooked garlic is on my list to try as soon as my garlic crop is harvested and cured. I just put up my scapes so, a couple more weeks for the heads to ripen. One point Id make on your recipe…you don’t have to sterilize the jars if you pressure can. You just wash well. The canner kills any germs. Putting jars in the oven is just a step where things can go wrong. Now I’m off to help my neighbor cut up 2 bears. I’m gonna make red bear belly and bear bacon if the outfitters did a decent job quartering the animals. I wasn’t there, so I have no idea how the meat will look once we get it thawed out. I will certainly be checking with you as I go. Best regards.

  5. Hi Hank! Thank you so much! I am making this right now, I’m on batch 2 ! I do love this recipe and the flavour is amazing! The 1st batch leaked some oil, they had 1 inch headspace in 1/2 pint jars , they have sealed, do I need to worry? I used the basic ball jars with flat lids and rings, just sealing them till snug not overly tight. Do you think I need to do anything different to avoid this?

  6. Hi Hank, Im a total newbie at pressure canning. I have a couple of questions, didn’t think to add them yesterday. I’m confused as to when to start timing for the 7 min. venting . Do I need to wait to see steam coming out then start timing or start timing right away. I was wondering if its possible to cut back on the salt? Not sure if it would matter.

    1. Thelma: You start timing the 7 minute venting when the steam is vigorously coming out of the vent, not before. And yes, with pressure canning you can cut back on the salt.

  7. I just made this! I’m not sure if I did something wrong as my garlic is very sauce is very pale compared to your pictures. Any thoughts or suggestions appreciated.

  8. Just took a chance and made a double batch of this with my homegrown garlic. Ended up with 10 half pints of heaven in a jar. Thank you for this recipe! Next time, and there definitely will be a next time, I’ll try it with local honey instead of white sugar like another person commenting suggested.

  9. Raven, the instapot sells as a pressure cooker and canner so you should be fine. Look for info on Google and Pinterest.

  10. Can I use my instant Pot as a pressure canner? This might sound like a stupid question but some people online are saying no and I don’t understand why to be honest.

  11. This sounds so good! I am wondering if I could PC this recipe in 1/4 pint jars? I assume the time would be the same as for 1/2 pint jars? It’s only two of us and I’d hate to open a jar and then not use it up in a timely manner. What do you think? I have been pressure canning for a few years, but I haven’t put any 1/4 pint jars in there yet.

  12. I think it took me an hour just to peel the garlic cloves, not idea what the finished product will taste like but if the goodness I scraped off the bottom of the pan is any indicator I am going to need to grow more garlic.

  13. Big (maybe) question about preparing these preserved garlic cloves. It is early August now where I live, and the hard neck garlic will be harvested over the next couple of weeks. They can be purchased for immediate use, or they can be carted into the old tobacco barns/new drying sheds to cure for storage garlic. Evidently the difference in water content between new and cured is astonishing. Would you advise any modifications to your instructions? I would offer to prepare some garlic both ways and report back, but as I’ve never tried them before I wouldn’t have much of a baseline…

  14. Is the sauce supposed to cover the garlic, in the jar? Subquestion, is it bad if the sauce does not cover the garlic in the jar?

    1. Mercox: Nope, the sauce does not always cover the garlic in the jar, but it should be close to the level.

  15. Thank you! Our son has a farm and gave us 2 crates of garlic. I am going to try this and I’ll let you know how it comes out. We will be using it on our wood fired pizza trailer for delicious pizza recipes!

  16. Happy new year from the Philippines. At the stated amount of oil and vinegar, will the cloves be submerged in liquid? Should they be? Thank you.