In my previous blog (Preserving Gourmet Garlic: Dehydration), I wrote about how to prolong the storage life of gourmet garlic through dehydration. Another easy way to preserve gourmet garlic is to freeze the minced cloves in oil. Freezing gourmet garlic in oil is a convenient and efficient way to retain its fresh flavor and make it more versatile for year-round culinary use. This is one of our favorite ways to save garlic, especially those cultivars such as the rocambole Russian Red, which have a shelf life of only a few months.
Using oil to coat the garlic helps reduce freezer burn. It also minimizes the odor of the garlic in your freezer, helping to prevent the pungent smell transferring to other foods (such as fruit). And because the mixture is frozen, there is no risk of botulism which can sometimes occur in garlic stored in oil at warmer temperatures. Best of all, the only extra tools you’ll need are a couple of dedicated ice-cube trays!
To make the process easier, we blanch the cloves before peeling. Blanching makes the skins more flexible and easier to remove. To blanch:
1. Place a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. While the water is heating, separate the garlic into individual cloves.
2. When the water has reached a rolling boil, add the garlic to the pot. Boil the garlic for approximately 10 seconds.
3. After 10 seconds, remove the garlic from the water. Place the cloves in a large bowl and run under cold water until they are cool to the touch, approximately 3 to 5 minutes.
Once the cloves have cooled, cut the small root plate from the bottom of each and remove the skin and membrane. Mince the garlic, either by hand or with a food processor. The mince can be as fine or as coarse as you like.
Place the minced garlic into a bowl. Add a small amount of olive, or any other kind of oil, and stir to combine. Continue adding small amounts of oil until all the garlic is shiny and lightly coated. Spoon the oiled garlic into the individual pockets of the ice cube tray, filling each to the top. Press firmly down on each filled pocket with the back of the spoon to compress the garlic, pushing out any bubbles of air. Top up the amount as necessary until each pocket is packed full with garlic.
Place the trays into the freezer and leave overnight, until the garlic cubes are firm. Because of the oil, they may not become completely solid. Defrost at room temperature for a few minutes, then pop the garlic cubes from the tray. Place all the cubes together in a plastic bag or airtight container before storing in the freezer. The garlic can be thawed before use, or cooked straight from frozen and used in any dish requiring garlic, including roasts, soups, sauces and even salad dressings. The garlic will taste fresh for up to one year from freezing, which is plenty of time until the next harvest!