What is Pickled Garlic?

Sally Foster
Sally Foster

An innovative addition to any relish tray, pickled garlic can also be used to spice up many sauces and other recipes. It's made by soaking fresh, whole garlic cloves in vinegar for an extended period of time. Like other relishes, pickled garlic can be purchased ready-to-eat from many specialty stores. It comes in jars and can be found in a variety of flavors, such as spicy, mild, and habanero, as well as plain.

Head of fresh garlic.
Head of fresh garlic.

For those who are particularly adventurous in the kitchen, pickled garlic can also be made at home. Recipes vary depending on the specific tastes of the cook, but most follow the same basic structure. The preparation time is minimal, but the soaking of the garlic lengthens the project.

Pickles and pickled garlic.
Pickles and pickled garlic.

Cooks start by peeling as many whole garlic cloves as they want to pickle. Next, six parts white vinegar and one part white sugar are brought to a boil in a large saucepan. The garlic is boiled for five minutes, then poured with the liquid into jars. Other ingredients, such as dill, celery seed, or peppers, can be added during the boiling stage to give the garlic a different flavor.

Celery seed can be added to pickled garlic for a different flavor.
Celery seed can be added to pickled garlic for a different flavor.

Once the jars have been filled, the cook should seal them and store them in the refrigerator. In approximately three weeks, the garlic will be ready to eat. It can be enjoyed straight out of the jar, added to spaghetti sauce or tuna salad, or used as a garnish for salads.

White vinegar is used to make pickled garlic.
White vinegar is used to make pickled garlic.

Pickled garlic is not only a delicious treat for garlic lovers — like fresh garlic, it also has a variety of health benefits. Historically, garlic has been used to treat arthritis, freckles, and cancer. Today, it has been shown to contribute to cardiovascular health and to boost the immune system.

Making pickled garlic involves soaking fresh garlic cloves in vinegar.
Making pickled garlic involves soaking fresh garlic cloves in vinegar.
Sally Foster
Sally Foster

Sarah is a freelance writer living in Istanbul, Turkey, where she has taught numerous English language courses and runs a blog focusing on the expat community. Since joining the wiseGEEK team several years ago, Sarah has become a veritable fount of knowledge on many obscure topics. She has a B. A from the University of Oregon, where she majored in Romance Languages (Spanish and Italian) and Linguistics and an M.A. in TESOL from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


Does the lack of 'bite' in the garlic (after pickling) mean it has lost some of its medicinal and health benefits?


If you pickle garlic in vinegar long enough, eventually it will turn black -- that is, completely black. It takes about thee to five years for this to happen, but garlic aged in vinegar for this long is absolutely delicious and totally safe to eat.

The garlic loses its pungent garlicky flavor and it becomes semi-sweet almost like "must" in the preparation of balsamic vinegar. The blue green color is the result of the sulfates in garlic and is simply the stage before it turns black and it is safe to eat.


I had the bounty of watching my 74 year old Persian mother-in-law pickle not only garlic but vegetables.

Her procedure was to peel the connective layer of the cloves to separate them but keep that individual layer on. Place cloves in a jar and pour warmed apple cider vinegar in jar. Close. Didn't turn green and of course the longer you let sit six months to a year the better it tastes.

I did try this method with peeled garlic and it did turn green but after many months it went away.


Garlic contains Phenol compounds that when bruised or pickled react with the acids in the vinegar and turn blue. Dropping the garlic in boiling water for 3 or 4 minutes will help break down these compounds however be careful. boil for too long and the garlic goes soft


placed fresh garlic in a pickling solution after all the pickles were consumed. It's been 4+ weeks. Now when I open the jar, the cloves of 'fresh' garlic bubble. Must I toss this batch of my beloved garlic away?

I was thinking, while driving (of course;o), that the sulfur compounds are doing something nifty. My brain took a leap to sulfuric acid...Now I'm scared. Could I potentially blow-up my roommates 'fridge'?

Started thinking about the temp. inside the 'fridge'. Then decided (after a week)that I needed to find out what's going on, instead of just tossing the whole thing. Excuse my wordiness.


So how do you stop the garlic turning this color? How do you heat the garlic and manage to keep it crunchy?


"Blue" garlic. Cucumber pickles can take on a "purplish" hue if the brine includes iodized salt. Perhaps a similar result may apply to pickled garlic. I was not warned of any associated hazard.


Raw garlic contains an enzyme that if not inactivated by heating, reacts with sulfur (in the garlic) and copper (from water or utensils) to form blue copper sulfate. The garlic is still safe to eat.


Does anyone know why garlic would turn a greeny-blue color after being pickled? Will it be safe to eat? Thanks for any input.

Post your comments
Forgot password?