I love living in the city, but as time passes, I long for a house with a yard, and more importantly, a garden. For my birthday, my dad’s birthday and mother’s day, we visited my folks in Wisconsin and despite it being too early for much in the garden (seeds are still in jars), the perennials were popping up. Asparagus and green garlic in particular. While I have had my fair share of asparagus this year, green garlic has not gotten the attention it deserves from me due to the mad rush for other Spring produce.

When I saw that there was an abundance of this young garlic in the furthest South row of the garden, I asked if I could bring some home along with an armful of wild chives and, the weed, garlic mustard. With full grocery bags full of allium along with the garlicy weed, I needed to make a decision how to best move forward. I am not one to acquire to pickle, but looking ahead, I knew that using all of the great stuff at its peak would be difficult, so I made the call to pickle.

I have mentioned a few times here, that my favorite commercially available pickle is Smokra from Rick’s Picks. I love the tartness of the pickle combined with the smokey and spicy addition to the brine. With the green garlic reminding me of the Calçot, it almost seemed natural to come up with a pickle brine for it that includes the hot smoked pimenton, my favorite Spanish ingredient that isn’t ham.

After cleaning and cutting the garlic, I blanched the stems, shocked them, and went to work on replicating the brine. I added additional smokiness to the pimenton with chipotle powder and then some additional warmth with cumin. Other than these flavor additions, the brine is a simple pickle brine. Oddly as I compared the brine side by side with the jar of smokra, I think that the main difference was that smokra did not use cider vinegar as I had. Call it a net win for the green garlic.

A week after I submerged the green garlic is the chilled brine, I cracked the jar open. The garlic had wrinkled slightly from loss of water, but they remained crisp. The smokiness from the brine had fortified the flavors of the green garlic. These stinky pickled straws are not yet so funky to require a light hand in use. The young qualities of the garlic allow for a far broader use than traditional pickled garlic. My favorite so far has been to slice thin with favas and mint. They are not so delicate, however, that they didn’t balance the deeply charred shells of the same favas.

It is strange to me, to think of what I would do with a garden. Certainly, when I currently think of produce, I think of the market, but someday I will be able to walk outside my door likely in a dingy white t-shirt and boxers, embarrassing my daughters, and cut a stem of young garlic and eat it seconds after picked instead of a week after have been pickled. Those are days that, despite the tastiness of these pickles, that I look forward to most.

Smoky Pickled Green Garlic

  • Handful of green garlic, cut as bulb transitions to green
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons pimenton
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar

Step one: Blanch and shock garlic.

Step two: Combine all other ingredients, bring to a boil, simmer for 3 minutes, and remove from heat. Let cool to room temp.

Step three: Add garlic, weigh down garlic to remain submerged in brine. Leave for one week.

Step four: Consume.