When I was younger (read: single and young) and lived back in Baku with my family, I used to have designated garlic days, mostly on weekends. I loved garlic. When I knew I would not go some place or that no one would visit us, I would eat garlic, and lots of it. Fresh with some dishes, and pickled with others, particularly hearty pasta dishes. I would stink. I shared a room with my not-much-of-a-garlic-lover-and-therefore-not-stinking sister and we would have “sisterly” fights when she accused me of being selfish and I just selfishly giggled. Yes, I was selfish. But I loved garlic. Badly. Awful lot. I still do.
While I will not miss a chance to munch on fresh garlic with certain dishes, I also love pickled garlic. Pickled garlic (sarimsag turshusu) is easy to make. It is so good. Crunchy, sort of sweet. The garlic literally transforms in taste while cures. Would you like to try making your own? Here’s the recipe. Tried and tested by yours truly. Eat garlic. Eat pickled garlic. Be happy. And a bit selfish.
Makes 2 pints (1 liter)
Note: The longer the garlic cures (think as long as 2 years), the softer, the tastier, and surprisingly sweeter it gets.
10 garlic bulbs (about 1 lb / 0.5 kg)
4 dried bay leaves
4 dried cloves
5-6 black peppercorns
2 tablespoons salt
About 2 cups white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
Sterilize a medium-size canning jar in boiling water and dry thoroughly.
Peel off several of the papery outside layers of the garlic bulbs, making sure to leave the skin of the cloves on. Do not separate the cloves from the head. Pack the jar with the garlic bulbs. Stick in the bay leaves and toss in the cloves, peppercorns, and salt. Pour in the vinegar to cover the garlic by 1/2-inch (12-mm).
Seal the jar, and gently turn it over several times to distribute the seasoning evenly. Store the jar in a cool place for at least 2 months before serving.
To serve, place the garlic heads on a serving plate. Everybody then simply pulls as many cloves off as they desire. The cloves slide right off the skin.