Garlic is life.
So I believe, anyway – the flavor of garlic is a welcome addition to virtually any savory (and even the occasional sweet) recipe and I literally have a love for garlic hard-coded in my DNA. Given the insipid, stale and hospice-bound garlic in most supermarkets, it’s a wonder people have any true appreciation for the “Stinking Rose” (as it’s called by many). I am fortunate to live an hour away from Gilroy, CA – the garlic growing capital of the United States, but even for me, it is hard to get truly fresh garlic that goes beyond the standard version sold in virtually every market.
Did you know that there are more than *600* different varieties of garlic – the grand total of *one* is what we get in most stores because it happens to be the variety that stores the best. Curious to learn more about the many varieties of garlic you are missing? Try this comprehensive list here of varietals from all over the world!
As it happens, the mighty country of Georgia is the garlic capital of the planet, with more than 150 known varieties of garlic supposedly found in this small country. That’s nearly 1/3 of all the known species on Earth! Georgians know their garlic, and so do I – for the record, two of my favorite varieties of garlic for the recipe I am about to share are Chesnok Red or Metechi (both Georgian, of course!).
In Georgia, they pickle the bumper crop of garlic they harvest every year in a unique brine made from pomegranate juice, vinegar, hot pepper and black pepper. These happen to be some of the healthiest superfoods you can eat – and when it’s garlic-flavored from the freshest produce available, it’s as good for you (and delicious) as it comes! 🙂
My version of Mzhave Niori (Pickled Garlic) adds in a touch of coriander seed and a bit of fresh basil, as I like the flavor they add and they are classically used in Georgian cuisine. The use of the cabbage leaves to keep the garlic submerged is my personal trick – use it well and enjoy the pickled cabbage that results! Leave my extra ingredients out and you have the classic Georgian recipe – and either way, it is delicious, Citizens! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
2 large heads of garlic, outer papery skin removed but not peeled past that
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup of unsweetened pomegranate juice
⅔ cup of white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, cracked or lightly crushed
3 hot, dried, red chili peppers, sliced or torn
1 tablespoon fresh dill, roughly chopped
2 fresh basil leaves, washed
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, cracked or lightly crushed
Put the garlic in a sterile pint jar and cover with salt.
Heat the pomegranate juice and the vinegar in a small saucepan to bring to a boil. Add the peppercorns, the chili peppers, coriander seeds basil and the dill to the garlic and then top off with the pomegranate juice and vinegar mixture.
Cover and shake well. Make sure the garlic stays submerged – if necessary, put a wad of washed cabbage leaves in the jar on top of the garlic to make sure.
Store refrigerated for at least 1 month before eating. Give the jars a good shake at least 2-3 times a week while they are maturing to ensure that the pickling process is happening evenly.
The leftover, strained brine makes a wonderful condiment by the way – try it on almost anything!