Learn How To Peel One Pound of Garlic in Seconds!

For this recipe, you need a whole pound of peeled garlic and that would normally take FOREVER to peel. You can’t just smash the cloves to get the peel off because you want them whole and in good condition. So peeling them the traditional way would take a lot of time.

So here is a trick for how to peel garlic…FAST!

How to Peel Garlic

You really can peel a whole pound of garlic in just one minute!

As you can see in the video above, you can actually peel one pound of garlic in about a minute. I swear this works! The hardest part is holding the two metal bowls together without letting the papery peels fly all over the kitchen. (And your arms get a little tired.)

  • First, smack the garlic down on the counter and break up the large cloves. (I do this wearing an oven mitt so that my hand doesn’t get sore.)
  • Then, place the individual (un-peeled) cloves in a metal bowl.
  • Cover with another metal bowl and while holding the two bowls closed, shake as violently as you can.
  • After about a minute, check the cloves. Most will be peeled. Honest!
  • Pull the peeled cloves out, cover the bowls again and shake a bit longer to get the stubborn cloves peeled.
  • Ta-da! Peeled!

Why Should You Pickle Garlic?

Pickled Garlic RecipeIf you grow garlic, you know that it basically all comes on at once. Yes, you can store it for long periods of time in the pantry. But many times, I end up with way more garlic than I can use up before it goes bad. That’s when I turn to pickling it! It allows for longer storage AND when given as gifts, I am sharing some of my garden with my friends.

But more importantly, Garlic is also one of those produce items that can cause botulism if not preserved properly. It has a pH that puts it in the “danger zone” and it is grown below the soil line. It is very common for it to harbor botulism spores and therefore should never be stored in oil, which is an anaerobic environment (even though many people do it). Instead, you should store it out in the open air (like potatoes), freeze it or pickle it in vinegar. I prefer to pickle it because there are so many benefits!

Benefits of Pickled Garlic:

  • Lasts for up to a year on the pantry shelf
  • Can be used as “fresh” garlic in recipes
  • The texture stays the same
  • Gives you a very flavorful brine
  • Tastes just like fresh garlic in any recipe

 The Flavor:

Now, you may be wondering about how the vinegar affects the flavor of your garlic. Other than toning down the bite a bit, it does not change the flavor much at all.  When I remove a garlic clove from the vinegar, I just give it a quick rinse (Optional) and use it as I would any fresh garlic. The flavor is basically the same.

What If Your Garlic Turns Blue?

Yes, you read that right. Occasionally, when garlic is stored in any vinegar (even in dill pickles, flavored vinegar, etc) it sometimes turns an odd blue color. Don’t worry! The garlic is still perfectly safe! The garlic is just reacting to minerals.

That is why it is important to always use non-reactive pans and utensils (stainless steel is best) and if you have water that is high in mineral content, you should use purified water in this recipe. But rest assured that it is only a color thing – nothing toxic and the flavor is the same. (But good luck explaining that to your kids!)

The Brine is Like a Secret Flavor Elixir!

The beauty of this recipe is that the leftover brine is packed with flavor. It is basically a spiced garlic vinegar. When you have used up the garlic, do NOT throw the brine away. Use it in salad dressings, sauces or to season vegetables. It can even be used to add a little “kick” to a bloody Mary recipe. Be creative!

Pickling Garlic

If you enjoyed this video:

We have a whole series of canning videos like this – each with a special tip or trick. Be sure to checked out my canning blog with other how-to and safety information as well!

Pickle Garlic Recipe

Makes 4 (1/2-pint) jars

Notes: In this recipe, it is perfectly safe to change up the herbs or spices as long as you keep the vinegar – water – salt ratio the same. So if you don’t have (or don’t like) a particular herb, change it out for a different herb. I highly recommend you use pickling salt or kosher salt to keep the brine clear. Regular salt has anti-caking agents, which will make the liquid cloudy. 


  • 1 1/4 cups white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water (see note)
  • 1 tbsp. pickling salt (or kosher salt)
  • 1 lbs. garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme (lemon thyme is great!)
  • 4 tsp. brown or yellow mustard seeds (divided)
  • 4 pinches crushed red pepper flakes (divided)
  • 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns (divided)
  • 4 lemon slices
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1) Fill your water bath canner with water and heat it up.

2) Place four, clean 1/2-pint sized canning jars in your water bath canner to warm up.(You do not have to sterilize the jars because you will be processing for longer than 10 minutes.)

3) In a small nonreactive pot, combine vinegar, water and salt and bring to a simmer. Stir until the salt is dissolved.

4) Into each of the jars, place: a bay leaf, rosemary sprig and thyme sprig.

5) Then into each of the jars, place: 1 tsp. mustard seeds, 1 pinch of crushed red pepper, 1/4 tsp. black peppercorns.

6) Fill the jars with the peeled garlic and pour hot brine over everything in each jar leaving just a little more than a ½-inch headspace in each. (You will adjust the headspace again before sealing.) Make sure all the cloves of garlic are covered in the liquid.

7) Top each filled jar with a lemon slice to help hold the garlic in the vinegar.

8) Use a plastic knife, skewer or chopstick to dislodge any air bubbles. Add more brine if needed to achieve a 1/2-inch headspace.

9) Wipe the rims of the jars and add lids with rings.

10) Process for 15 minutes in a hot water bath. After cooling, store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use within 3 weeks. Store sealed jars on the pantry shelf and use within one year.


Theresa Loe is the Co-Executive Producer and the canning/homesteading expert on Growing A Greener World TV. She creates seasonally inspired pantry items based on homegrown and locally-sourced produce. A lifelong canner and a graduate of the Master Food Preserver Program, Theresa also studied sustainable horticulture and culinary arts. She also blogs at LivingHomegrown about homesteading & preserving. Follow her on Google+ and download her FREE CANNING RESOURCE GUIDE.


  1. says

    Dear Theresa,

    It works beautifully and tastes, as you said, as fresh garlic in recipes! I will definitely recommend it to my fellow garlic lovers!

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Susan says

    Why are the pictures for pint size jars and directions for 1/2 pint jars? 1/2 pint jars are minuscule (about 1 cup). But it makes a difference in figuring out how much spice & brine to use in each jar.

    I needed to use quart jars and had to guess at processing time.

    • Theresa Loe says

      Hi Susan,

      I can assure you those are 8 oz jars. A half pint is 8 oz. You may be confusing the standard half pint jar to the new ball 1/2 pint jar that looks short and stubby. The short and stubby shaped jars also hold 8 oz but are shaped very differently.

      However, the jars in the video are indeed 8 oz each which is a half pint.

    • Theresa Loe says

      Garlic contains sulfur compounds that can react with other minerals (especially copper). So the most common cause of blue/green garlic is a chemical reaction with the minerals in the brine or water used in your canning process.

      The color is perfectly harmless and you can still eat the garlic. It is not a problem except that it looks weird!

      Some things you can do to prevent this from happening in the future:
      – Use distilled water so there are no minerals in your brine.
      – Be sure you are using salt without iodine.
      – Keep the pickles out of direct sunlight.
      – Use non-reactive stainless steel or enamel pots
      – Avoid copper & aluminum pots at all costs
      – Use the garlic whole (sliced or bruised garlic will react more)
      – You can also blanch the garlic quickly for a few seconds before using it in the recipe.

    • Theresa Loe says

      Hi Dana,

      That’s not bad from a safety standpoint. It will be even more safe than it needs to be. But that might be a slight issue from a taste standpoint. You may notice those garlics are quite tart when you use them. Other than that, they should be fine!

      • Madhu S Nayar says

        Hello Theresa,
        I liked your video as in my kitchen we use a lot of garlic we use some what similar process of peeling it, secondly we chop it and preserve it in vegetable oil for couple of days before it turns greenish blue .
        As garlic is very good for health I try to prepare garlic oil and use it wherever possible and to make dressing it enhances the flavor, so I would like to know what will be the shelf life of garlic oil.
        Your presentation will definitely try your recipe as I like garlic and chilies a lot.

  3. says

    This is so great to read and I have a site and am affiliated with a farm that produces organic black garlic every year – they are the largest producer of organic, artisinal black garlic in the country. I want to try and pickle black garlic – it is already cured and processed to turn it from regular garlic to black garlic, so I’m not sure if pickling will help or not, but want to give it a try. I would prefer to make just one or two jars, so I can cut the recipe ingredients in half or less and still get the same results, yes?

    • Theresa Loe says

      Yes. In this case, you are cutting the brine in half but keeping the same proportions. It should be just fine.

  4. Brian says

    About discoloration : Garlic turns blue to blue-green for two reasons. First , if exposed to sunlight it can actually produce chlorophyll. If this occurs for that reason then it will definitely effect the taste causing it to become bitter. The second reason is chemical or mineral content of the water source. If I use distilled water this problem never occurs.

  5. Paul says

    A tip about the garlic turning blue, that only happens if you use iodized salt. It has nothing to do with the vinegar. Iodine will make a variety of veggies turn odd colors, but as stated in the recipe it’s still perfectly safe to eat and doesn’t affect the flavor. But for a more attractive pickle, make sure to use pickling salt, kosher salt, sea salt, or anything that indicates that it’s not iodized.

      • Theresa Loe says

        Hi Amanda,

        The most common reason for garlic turning blue is having minerals in your water. I have had it happen when I use well water at our homestead. Also keep the garlic out of sunlight. I would recommend using bottled water next time. The garlic is still safe to eat even if it turns blue.

  6. Troy says

    Processing Time: So do you start the clock when you put the jars in or when the water returns to a boil? Thank you! Also any sites for add’tl recipes? Thank you again, Troy.

    • Theresa Loe says

      Hi Troy – You start the clock when the water comes back up to boil. There are so many sites for recipes. To guarantee safety, I would start with the National Center for Food Preservation: http://nchfp.uga.edu/

  7. tina salentino says

    I was wondering if I could use pint jars instead of half-pint jars and also if the processing time would change with that? Thanks

  8. Patsy says

    I’m anxious to try your recipe because I notice there is no sugar added. I did a simple recipe that called for sugar, salt and vinegar and pickle crisp. It was alright but was not satisfied it did not have the crispiness like the pickled garlic from the deli kiosk. Due you have any suggestions as to how they keep the garlic so crisp and white????

    • Theresa Loe says

      Good question Patsy. I have found that the crispness depends upon the ripeness of the garlic harvested and its freshness. When I harvest myself from my own garden, the garlic stays crisp. When I use garlic from the store it gets hard. I believe it it is just like regular cucumber pickles – freshness is key to crispness.

      I hope that helps!

    • BrianC says

      I put a grape leaf in the bottom of my jars of pickled garlic. In fact, I put it in the bottom of pickled anything. My garlic has always turned out crisp.

    • Theresa Loe says

      Hi Paisley,

      You can only store garlic in oil in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. If you want long term storage, freeze it. Garlic should never be stored in oil at room temperature as it is the perfect set up for botulism. Here is a link to the USDA standards on garlic and oil: http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze/garlic_oil.html

  9. tony cunningham says

    the peeling trick……i have used this method with boiled eggs…
    which works perfectly…why not just use a pot with matching
    lid…..?????? thats what i do…

  10. Tim Donoghue says

    Love this, love this LOVE this!!! We are spoiled; we live in France and every year people give us TONS of fresh garlic that eventually goes bad. I mean, really…..how much garlic can two guys eat? And, believe me, we try!!
    Will try your recipe tomorrow. The video is excellent and now I can’t wait to try everything else that you do.
    Many thanks from Forcalquier, France.
    Tim Donoghue

  11. Paul yaz says

    what can one do to keep the garlic white or whiter?

    thanks for your expertise.

    • Theresa Loe says

      Hi Paul,

      I don’t know of any tricks for that. Stick with white vinegar (vs. apple cider or red wine vinegar). But other than that, I don’t have a trick. Anything you add to offset color change would change the pH (not something to mess with) or flavor. Sorry I don’t have an answer for you. :-(

  12. Vivian says

    I have a question about pickled eggs. I had pickled eggs for years then I read an article on pickling them and it said there was a problem in the safety. Have you any information about the safety issues. I never had a problem. I would pressure cook @ 10# for 20 minutes.
    thanks in advance for your help.

    • Theresa Loe says

      Hi Vivian,

      I have also made pickled eggs for years, but I store mine in the refrigerator. I have never canned them.

      Although many people used to do it, the USDA no longer recommends canning pickled eggs. I believe the problem is that there is no way to get the heat to properly penetrate the center of the hard cooked egg. There is a risk of botulism.

      Here is the USDA recommendation warning on canning the eggs. http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_06/pickled_eggs.html

      I know you have done it with no problem. But I can’t recommend it. I tried to stick to the USDA recommendation. So sorry!

      But they keep for a long time in the refrigerator. Then you know you are perfectly safe.

  13. Michael says

    Can you use disinfect jam jars and such or do you need a special ‘Pickling’ jar for canning? And what are some tips with the sealing of the jars at the end of the video?

  14. Danny says

    I may be strange, but I like to eat spiced pickled garlic by itself. Is this a good recipe for that, or is there another process. I purchased a jar of hot spicy garlic that i went through in about a week as a snack food.

    • Theresa Loe says

      Hey Danny-
      I bet you never catch a cold! (Or get bitten by a vampire!) Absolutely you can eat this straight and yes, you can make it spicy by adding lots of hot pepper flakes. You could even add one pickled jalapeno pepper to each jar if you really want some heat. (Make sure it is a pickled pepper – not a regular pepper or you change the pH of the jar.)

      I would suggest that you rinse off the vinegar before eating so you don’t have the acidity from that. But otherwise…eat away!

      • Paisley Davidson says

        Be careful eating pickled garlic as a snack. I was intemperate and ate the better part of a jar all in one sitting, which I could easily do almost any day of the week. I wound up giving myself the most atrocious gas pains, was doubled over in agony, and my boyfriend refused to sleep with me to boot, owing to the smell extruding from my pores. It was a lesson learned hard, but I’ll never NEVER forget it. Every time I go to eat more than a few cloves at a time, I recall this episode and pull back.

  15. MaryAnne Boyer says

    did I see you put the garlic in a waterbath canner without a rack in the botton?

    • Theresa Loe says

      No MaryAnne. There was a rack in the bottom. For the sake of time, we did not show the rack being put into the water bath. Perhaps we should have.

  16. Justin says

    How long should I let it sit before actually opening the jar and trying them out ?

    • Theresa Loe says

      Hi Justin,

      I would wait at least three days so that the garlic can gain some of the spice flavors. Otherwise, they are good to go immediately.


    • Theresa Loe says

      Absolutely Lucia – If you are storing it in the refrigerator, you can use any container you want. But you still need the brine so that the pH is in the safe zone.


  17. Rita says

    Hello everyone! I’m a newbie and just found this great site. I used the pickled garlic recipe from the Bernardin website for my first batch of Russian Red garlic. The finished product turned out soft and mushy on the inside. Help…what happened?

    • Theresa Loe says

      Hi Rita,

      So sorry that your garlic turned out mushy with the recipe from the other site. I went over and looked at that recipe and it looks okay. I do not see anything within that process that should have caused you trouble. I suspect that it may be that the problem is with the garlic itself. Perhaps it was over or under ripe? (Older garlic does get softer with time) I’m unsure exactly what happened as I have never had this problem before. If you followed all the steps correctly and did not change the basic recipe, my guess would be that the heat caused the garlic to go soft. Has it been sitting on the shelf long or was it instantly soft?

      • Rita says

        I opened a jar about 3 weeks after I made it….maybe I over processed it. I was nervous about garlic so I cooked it for about 13 minutes instead of 10. Person I bought it from verified it was fresh from the ground and was dried nicely. This garlic raw was hard as a rock. Thanks for any help.

        • Theresa Loe says

          Hey Rita,

          The extra three minutes should not have made too much difference. I suspect the hardness has more to do with the variety of garlic. I have made this recipe several times with different types of garlic and some do turn out harder than others (same recipe and same process). Even though the garlic is very hard, it is still safe to eat if you followed the recipe properly. You can grate it with a fine grater to release the flavor or use whole in sauces, etc.

          Maybe try a different variety next time so that you get the softness you are used to. But go ahead and enjoy the flavors of what you have preserved so far.


  18. Organo Gal says

    I am THRILLED to find this recipe. My garlic always dehydrates and I lose the majority of it. I will use this recipe to keep ALL of it.
    You are a “garlic” saver!

  19. ken says

    I recently tried your pickled garlic recipe. I mistakenly used 25% rice vinegar not realizing it was only 4% acidity. Should I toss it out or is there a way to test it. I do have a PH tester. Thanks Ken

    • Theresa Loe says

      Oh BUMMER Ken! So your vinegar was only 4% acidity?

      Although you might be fine in some recipes with a little bit lower acidity, you were very smart to ask because garlic is not something you want to mess around with. It is notorious for carry the botulism spore and you definitely need to have the proper acidity for long term storage. It used to be that all vinegars were never less than 5%, but recently companies are allowed to sell vinegars of lower acidity and it can be a problem in recipes like this one.

      Here is what I suggest:

      I would NOT throw it out. But I WOULD immediately re-can it with a new brine made of a vinegar 5% or higher. (the higher the better in my opinion). Open each jar and dump out the brine, but leave the garlic and spices in the jar. Mix up your new brine with a better vinegar and add it to the jars. Wipe the rims so that the surface is clean and add new canning lids. Process according to the recipe above. The herbs might look a little wilted in the jar from the double processing, but the flavor will still be great. And you can rest assured that the garlic will be safe for long term storage.

      Good luck!

    • Theresa Loe says

      Hi Saul,

      So I think you are asking if you can reuse a lacto-fermented pickle brine, right? Lacto-fermented pickles do not have vinegar and are preserved by the lacto-acid that occurs during fermentation. The answer is relative to how many pickles you fermented in the brine already. My official answer is yes, you can…a little bit. See, the brine needs to keep a certain amount of salt in the solution. Every time you add a cucumber, some of that salt is removed through osmosis. So eventually, the brine becomes less salty and not as affective.

      What most people do is add a cup of the used brine to a new batch of brine to give it a kick-start in fermentation. (There are lots of good bacteria in there.) Others reuse a brine one time only with a whole new batch of cucumbers and THEN use it to kick-start a new batch. Either of those options is fine. But I would not reuse a fermented brine indefinitely or it will not have a good salt to water ratio.

      Hope that helps!

  20. says

    Wow, that is a wonderful trick to share…thank you so much! And although I am not really into canning, I do love this idea on how to make your garlic last longer. I just may try it some day. Thank you. You are very talented! Jan Doble

  21. jaymejay says

    Two things…Uh-mazing garlic trick! I can’t imagine peeling all those cloves of garlic individually. And a lemon on top? I wouldn’t have thought to do that. I can’t wait to make a batch!