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Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Garlic Oil and Pickles

Illustration for article titled Garlic Oil and Pickles

These two seem unrelated at first glance, but they're both so easy to make and they involve enough of the same tools that it's worth it to make them at the same time.


I should note that while I do use pickle juice for certain things, I really hate cucumbers and I forgot to tell my wife (who does like cucumbers and pickles) that that it would be perfectly fine to go to town on them a day or so after they were done, so technically the pickle recipe is untested and as such may undergo revisions. On the other hand, I really only superficially modified it from Ted Allen's pickled veggies recipe so I'm relatively sure they won't be a total disaster and any revisions I end up making will be minor. Either way, if I do change it I'll re-post the updated version like I'd do any other recipe I find a better way to do. UPDATE: Once the other people I live with tried the pickles, within about 2 days half the jar was gone. I think it's safe to say this is the final recipe.

As for the garlic oil, I've made it a few times so I know it's good, but the one caveat is that it's a medium-strength infusion. I'm posting this one, knowing that I'm gonna keep upping the garlic level until I'm happy with it; but it's easier to make something with the oil and then up the garlic level if you want than it would be to dumb it down if it's too intense. This recipe is stronger than a lot of the other homemade garlic oil recipes around, but less strong than commercial garlic oil. The other main reason I'm posting this one is because other recipes I've found require you to use the oil pretty much immediately, lest it develop too much clostridium botulinum and become toxic; and I did a bunch of research into good ways to prevent that from happening that would augment the taste of oil and be easily doable for pretty much anyone. If you're going to make your own cheese, you can use the leftover whey to wash the garlic before it goes into the oil, but that requires a whole other separate process. The easiest solution to this problem is lemon juice. CB can't be killed by heat alone, you need an acid to help you out; and the while the whey from the cheese has the lactic acid required, lemon juice has enough citric acid to do the job while also tasting good enough in conjunction with the garlic that it becomes an overall benefit rather than some shit you just have to deal with so you don't get sick. The other big thing to do if you want to keep a batch around for longer than a week or two (up to about a month or so is about as far as I'd recommend, but if you're bothering to make this stuff then you'll use it up long before that), is to keep it in the refrigerator. Keeping it colder will slow down bacterial growth, but so does keeping it in the dark. Basically, put this stuff back in the fridge as soon as you're done using it if you want it to keep for a good, long time.




A big pot (4-quart is about perfect) of boiling water. You can salt it like you would pasta water to get it to boil faster and it won't hurt anything as salt is an antibacterial agent, but you could do it unsalted and the heat will do the trick on its own. Your choice.


Garlic Oil:

1 1/2 cups of extra virgin olive oil
9 cloves of garlic, crushed
juice of half a lemon (fresh, not the lemon-shaped bottle bullshit) (you want at least 1 tablespoon per cup of oil to kill the bacteria, this should yield a little more than that if you really squeeze out all the juice)
One 16-oz. squeeze bottle with cap
cheese cloth and about 6 inches of cooking twine



2 cucumbers
2 cups of water
1 cup of white vinegar
6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled
3 teaspoons (or a heaping tablespoon) of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon each of dried dill, coriander seed, celery seed, and mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns
1 empty jar of tomato sauce, thoroughly washed



Start the pot of water boiling, and once it's fully bubbling; use tongs to dip the washed tomato sauce jar, its lid, the squeeze bottle for the oil and its top in the water for about 30 seconds each to fully disinfect them. Make sure you don't just drop the glass jar into the pot as the heat shock combined with even a slight impact could break the glass. Take it from the idiot who once ruined a marijuana/rum tincture with exactly that mistake. The plastic squeeze bottle will deform a bit in the water, but if you use the tongs to squeeze it roughly back to round once it's out, it'll go back to normal as it cools off.


In a small pot, heat the olive oil over medium/low heat. Make a rudimentary steeping bag for the garlic out of the cheese cloth, and secure it shut with the twine. A good trick for whenever you want to do double-knots is to cross the strings twice on the first knot and then pull it taut before making the second knot. This will help keep the first knot from slipping open while forming the second one. Drop it into the oil, and heat it just enough so the garlic slowly bubbles but doesn't brown. Depending on how small the pot is, the garlic might not fully submerge so you may need to turn the bag periodically throughout the process. If the garlic starts browning, remove the pot from the heat for a minute, lower the heat, and keep going. Heat the garlic for 30 minutes or so, moving the bag around with the tongs periodically. When it's done, squeeze the lemon juice in and let everything cool off for at least another hour or so, then press the steeping bag against the side of the pot to squeeze out any oil in there, discard the bag, and transfer the oil to the squeeze bottle.

While the garlic oil is infusing, cut the cucumbers either into wedges or slices, depending on how you want to use them. I used a mandolin with the crinkle-cut blade because fuck it, it was there (and also we were going to be using them more for sandwiches so flatter was better), but this one's really up to you. In a third pot (exact size is up to you, but medium is better), heat 2 cups of water to a boil, then reduce it to simmering, and cook the peeled garlic cloves in it for 5 minutes. While the garlic is cooking, put all the pickle spices and some of the cucumber slices/wedges/whatevers in the jar and keep it close to the stove. When the five minutes is up, add the vinegar and Kosher salt, and bring it all back up to a boil, stirring until the salt is all dissolved. Using a slotted spoon, move the garlic cloves and as much of the rest of the cucumbers as will fit into the jar until it's pretty much full. Reserve any leftover cucumber for whatever other things for which you might use cucumbers. Pour as much of the boiling brine as will fit into the jar, and let it sit until the jar cools enough to be handled. Don't put it in the fridge as (again) glass doesn't respond well to drastic changes in temperature, just let it cool off at its own speed. When it's cooled enough to handle; put the lid on securely, turn the whole thing upside down, and shake the shit out of it to evenly distribute the spices and garlic cloves.


Store the jar and the squeeze bottle in the fridge. The garlic oil is good to go pretty much immediately, you just need to shake it to make sure the lemon juice reincorporates into the oil. The pickles will be ready to go within a few hours, but it's best if you let them sit for a few days, shaking the jar to redistribute the spices that have settled on the bottom once a day or whenever you remember to do it.


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