“Don’t ever let a recipe tell you how much garlic to put in. You measure that with your heart.” If you’ve ever seen this saying and completely understood what it meant, then you’re in the right place. There’s no mountain of garlic high enough, no river of olive oil wide enough, am I right?
The next time you find yourself with an abundant garlic harvest, creating a garlic confit that you can preserve in the refrigerator should be on your food gardening bucket list. Confit is a French term for “preserve” and generally refers to preserving anything in fat or liquid, like sugar. It’s also used to describe preserving meat in its own fat (such as duck confit).
Once you learn how to preserve garlic as a confit, you won’t ever go back to a garlic confit-less refrigerator. This method of slow-cooking cleaned garlic cloves in oil for a few hours in the oven, then pouring them into a covered jar in the fridge, will provide you with tender, creamy garlic cloves that you can use in your cooking for weeks.
Garlic confit spreads on toast and crackers like butter and can be tossed into spaghetti with salt and pepper or rubbed into some ribeye steaks. The extra oil can be used as a rich garlic oil you can use to cook just about anything, but is incredibly yummy with veggies.
Easy Ways to Peel Garlic
Unless you’re buying pre-peeled cloves at the store, you’ll be digging the cloves out yourself, so here are a few ways to speed up the process of peeling garlic.
- Cracking: Remove the cloves from the bulb, lay a sizable wide knife flat over the cloves, and strike it hard and fast with your palm. This effort should break the cloves’ shell and allow you to pull them out individually more easily. You’ll need to do this in small batches of two or three at a time.
- Soaking: Soak the cloves in water for five minutes, then use a whisk to shake them up and loosen the skins a bit. At this point, the skins should peel off much more quickly.
- Shaking: You can shake the skin right off your garlic; all you need is two bowls or a large bowl with a plate over it. Just add your cloves inside and shake for a full minute or until all the peels have come off on their own.
How to Preserve Peeled Garlic in Oil
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
Fill your desired jar (preferably a canning jar) with cloves of garlic, then fill to the top with olive oil. This will help you estimate how much garlic you need, and makes this recipe flexible for all size jars.
Pour into a small oven-safe saucepan or pourable baking dish. If the olive oil doesn’t cover the garlic (it often won’t), continue to cover with olive oil until the cloves are submerged.
Bake for 3 hours.
Remove from oven, strain cloves into your jar, then cover the remaining space with olive oil. Save any excess oil in a separate jar for cooking later and refrigerate.
For preserving, there are three options. One is to can it appropriately to remove the air, where it can last at room temperature sealed for a year or more. That requires a proper pressure canner, and honestly, the risk of botulism is too high with garlic for me to attempt personally, so I don’t recommend it either.
You can also freeze it, and it will be just as good the day you made it, for about six months.
My preference is to use it daily, so if you agree, I suggest refrigerating it. Your garlic confit will last up to a month. The olive oil will solidify a bit in the fridge—and if it doesn’t, invest in better olive oil!
As far as food safety goes, I have to warn you that garlic is one of those low-acid foods that carry the risk of botulism when preserved. If you refrigerate right away and get the temperature down nice and quick, it should be fresh for a month in the refrigerator, though two weeks would be the ultimate in food safety. Make sure your jar is clean and has a good seal, too.
How to Use Garlic Confit in Cooking
If you love garlic, the question is how can’t you use garlic confit in cooking? Here are a few of my favorite methods and why my jars never last a whole month.
- Rub your steak with garlic before you cook, before you add salt and pepper.
- Toss in a hot skillet with cooked pasta, butter, salt, and pepper.
- Spread it on a fresh hot bagel under your cream cheese for an addictively satiating breakfast treat.
- Add it into quick skillet veggies like home fries or onions and peppers. Since it’s already pre-cooked, you can add toward the end. It will practically melt like butter when tossed with the rest of your veggies, and the cooked bits will taste like candy.
- Spread it over sliced Italian bread or ciabatta, and top with parmesan cheese to bake up a loaf of irresistible garlic bread.
- Add to sauces and stews without needing any extra cooking time to soften the garlic.
- Blend it with the olive oil to create a garlic cream that can be slathered on chicken, fish, and veggies.
Now that you know how to preserve peeled garlic as a delectable garlic confit, will you make it? What would you change? Some people add herbs to theirs, do you?