Sunset

Have you ever had Spanish Roja garlic? It's a beauty, with big fat juicy red-skinned cloves. We grew it for our one-block feast this summer.

 

Our plot yielded dozens of chubby heads of garlic. We've been working it into regular recipes, but it seemed a shame not to pay homage to it with a pickle. A pickle that would be all about the garlic--loads and loads of whole cloves, nothing else except spices--and be a good memory of the pungent, fresh garlic we pulled up from the warm soil.

So I decided to make my mom's pickled garlic. It's just a footnote to a  bread-and-butter cucumber pickle recipe, written on an index card in her flowing script. She's had it for ages and isn't sure where it came from. Maybe she invented it; maybe it's from a friend or a magazine long ago. Anyway, it's delicious. The cloves get all buttery soft but are still tangy. They're great spooned to the side of roasted beef or pork...or fish...or pasta...or even with a wedge of good Cheddar cheese. You can eat a lot of garlic this way.

Sally True's Pickled Garlic

Peeling this much garlic is a wee bit tiresome, I must admit, so put on some good music and know that once you've finished the prep work, you're basically done: The cloves only cook for 3 minutes.

Makes: About 2 pints Time: about 1 hour

1/4 cup sugar1 cup cider vinegar2 tsp. salt1 bay leaf1/4 tsp. mixed peppercorns(green, red, black, white; just one color is okay too)1 1/2 tsp. yellow mustard seeds1/2 tsp. celery seeds8 heads fat-cloved garlic, peeled

Special equipment: 2 pint canning jars, sterilized*

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil 3 minutes and pour into hot, sterilized jars. With tongs, set inner lid on top of jar rim, then the outer ring. Using potholders, screw the top on tight and let cool. Then chill it for at least a day before eating, to let the flavors develop.

The pickles keep in the fridge for up to a year unopened. (To test theseal, pressthe center of the lid; if it yields and makes a little popping sound,it's not sealed, and you should eat the pickle within a month.) Youcould probably keep it, sealed, at room temperature, but the pickleisn't heat-processed right in the jar after you fill it (most picklesare), so better be safe than sorry and keep it chilled.

* To sterilize jars: Fill them with hot water and put them in a deep pot. Drop the lids in alongside. Fill the pot with water and bring to a boil. Boil jars and lids for 10 minutes; then empty and fill right away, while still hot (use tongs to move them around).

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