A few weeks ago when I made a HUGE batch of pickles I used a recipe that called for garlic, onions, and dill. This recipe made the best pickles I've ever tasted, however, I was informed by my mom that garlic if stored in liquid can cause botulism. I've heard of this term once or twice in conversation with canning tomatoes, but I never really paid much attention to it.
Well, now it has caught my attention, since I have to drain and re-jar 7 giant bottles of pickles. I left the garlic in the jars thinking it would enhance the flavor, but little did I know that it could cause botulism.
Botulism, if you aren't aware, is a bacteria that grows on certain vegetables when stored improperly. It is deadly, and will kill you rather fast- like in days.
So, if you made my pickles I'm sorry, but you are going to have to take the garlic out of the jars, just like I did. This is especially important if you are jarring and not keeping them in the refrigerator, or not planning on eating them right away. Here is a warning I found:
Regardless of its flavor potency, garlic is a low-acid vegetable. The pH of a clove of garlic typically ranges from 5.3 to 6.3. As with all low-acid vegetables, garlic will support the growth and subsequent toxin production of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum when given the right conditions. These conditions include improper home canning and improper preparation and storage of fresh herb and garlic-in-oil mixtures. Moisture, room temperature, lack of oxygen, and low-acid conditions all favor the growth of Clostridium botulinum. When growing, this bacterium produces an extremely potent toxin that causes the illness botulism. If untreated, death can result within a few days of consuming the toxic food.
...WHICH MEANS YOU ARE AT RISK OF GETTING SICK FROM STORING IT THE WAY YOU DO.
Commercially, garlic is stored near 32 degrees F. However, most home refrigerators are too warm for ideal long-term storage of garlic. Instead, store in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place in well-ventilated containers such as mesh bags. Storage life is 3 to 5 months under cool (60 degree F) dry, dark conditions.
WHICH MEANS YOU CAN SAFELY KEEP IT IN A COOL DRY PLACE AT HOME INSTEAD OF PUTTING IT IN OIL.
Garlic can be frozen in a number of ways.1. Chop the garlic, wrap it tightly in a plastic freezer bag or in plastic wrap, and freeze. To use, grate or break off the amount needed.2. Freeze the garlic unpeeled and remove cloves as needed.3. Peel the cloves and puree them with oil in a blender or food processor using 2 parts oil to 1 part garlic. The puree will stay soft enough in the freezer to scrape out parts to use in sautéing. Freeze this mixture immediately - do not store it at room temperature. The combination of the low-acid garlic, the exclusion of air (by mixing with oil), and room-temperature storage can support the growth of Clostridium botulinum.
THESE ARE THE SAFER OPTIONS, BECAUSE STORING IT IN OIL TAKES AWAY ITS OXYGEN(DROWNS IT) AND THEN IT BECOMES DANGEROUS TO EAT.
STORING GARLIC IN OIL
Extreme care must be taken when preparing flavored oils with garlic or when storing garlic in oil. Peeled garlic cloves may be submerged in oil and stored in the freezer for several months. Do not store garlic in oil at room temperature. Garlic-in-oil mixtures stored at room temperature provide perfect conditions for producing botulism toxin (low acidity, no free oxygen in the oil, and warm temperatures). The same hazard exists for roasted garlic stored in oil. At least three outbreaks of botulism associated with garlic-in-oil mixtures have been reported in North America.
By law, commercially prepared garlic in oil has been prepared using strict guidelines and must contain citric or phosphoric acid to increase the acidity. Unfortunately, there is no easy or reliable method to acidify garlic in the home. Acidifying garlic in vinegar is a lengthy and highly variable process; a whole clove of garlic covered with vinegar can take from 3 days to more than 1 week to sufficiently acidify. As an alternative, properly dried garlic cloves may be safely added to flavor oils."
SO IT IS SAFE TO SUBMERGE THE GARLIC IN OIL AND THEN FREEZE BUT NOT REFRIGERATE OR LEAVE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE.
Now it says above that it acidify garlic in vinegar is a safe way to prevent botulism, which my pickles are in a lot of vinegar, but I'm not going to take the chance, and you shouldn't either. I read that in order to acidify garlic properly it must be soaked/submerged in vinegar for 3-7 days. (Which I did not.) I'd err on the side of caution and do it for a full 7 if you are so inclined to do this.
Operation-remove-garlic-from-pickles is about to start.