The various smells of garlic can transport me through time.
Sauteed garlic and onions as a base for my mother’s cauliflower and cheddar soup. Deep, brown, fragrant heads of garlic in the bottom of a roasting dish, along with chicken fat and carrots. The spicy, raw garlic aroma from a punchy caesar that tickles the inside of your nose.
But what’s the right garlic for the job?
If available, fresh garlic is essential. I get pre-peeled packs from New City Supermarket — they save time on peeling but are still crisp and peppery.
However, late summer is a great time to pick up a stash of whole heads of garlic from a local farmer to preserve and stash away for the winter.
Garlic powder is your best bet for a dry seasoning mix, and the jars of minced garlic in oil are good for a stirfry, but miss that sharp garlicky bite that oxidizes over time.
To make it through the entire pack of peeled garlic, here are a couple of recipes that show off the versatility of this usually overlooked ingredient.
Fermented Garlic Honey/Maple Syrup
This is a simple way to bring out the sweet subtle flavours in garlic without the bitter or peppery notes. In a 250mL jar, fill 3⁄4 of the way with good quality honey — locally, I would highly recommend Doug’s Honey at the DTK Market. Top with four to five whole, peeled cloves of garlic — the same thing can be done with a jar of maple syrup. Set your jars on a shelf and stir once a week for about three months. Garlic honey is incredible on pizza, in salad dressing or schmeared onto a piece of local Mountainoak gouda. Garlic maple syrup results in a sweet umami marinade that resembles soya sauce, without the salty bite. It’s a delicious tofu marinade.
Fridge Pickled Garlic
Slice or roughly chop garlic and loosely fill a small jar. Bring ⅓ cup vinegar (anything other than cider is okay here) to a simmer with aromatics like coriander seed, peppercorns, bay leaf, mustard seed or whole dried chilli. Top the jar with pickling mixture, and keep in the fridge until ready to use. Pickled garlic is amazing on charcuterie boards, tossed with vegetables before roasting or mixed into potato salad.
Add 1⁄2 cup peeled, whole garlic cloves to a pot. Cover garlic with oil (olive or vegetable) and cook on the lowest heat setting until garlic turns slightly golden, then remove from heat. Once cooled, pour garlic and oil into a jar. You can add sprigs of hearty herbs, like thyme or rosemary, into the oil as well. Garlic oil is good for just about any savoury cooking where oil is used, while the sweet, softened cloves can be crushed into pasta, or spread on a baguette with coarse salt or mashed into roasted mushrooms.
Lemon-y Garlic Aioli (Vegan)
If you have never made mayo before, today is your day. It does not need to be scary or stressful and it’s an excellent way to utilize your garlic oil and confit cloves. I like to use this recipe on sandwiches, or even for dipping grilled vegetables, like green beans. This recipe is quite versatile. Experiment with adding roasted jalapeno, hot sauce and/or chilli flakes for a kick.
1 whole egg (if vegan, use 1⁄4 cup of aquafaba — the liquid found in a can of chickpeas)
1-1 1⁄2 cups of vegetable oil (sub out 1⁄4 cup of plain oil for garlic oil if you have it)
2 tsp dijon mustard (smooth is good, grainy is fine too)
1 1⁄2 tsp lemon juice
1 lemon for zesting
3 cloves confit garlic
1⁄4 tsp salt (taste and add more if necessary)
1 tsp honey or garlic honey
In a large measuring cup, add all ingredients except for the oil. Place a hand blender in your container and blitz only until ingredients are combined. Now you can add your oil, I like to do this 1/3 at a time. If you’d like a thicker mayo, add another glug of oil. To thin it out, add a splash of water. Taste and season with more salt or garlic honey if necessary.