Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Smoked Garlic

Part of our garlic crop had a bad year and was wilted and brown a month early. These garlic were all on the small side so I decided it was best to do something with them and process them as a batch. Having just completed a lot of work on the table I had a big bag of oak sawdust so decided to go and attempt some smoking. I have long admired the art of cold smoking so decided that a gentle smoke of the garlic before preserving may be fun. Being a sunny day helped!
I cobbled together a smoker from things we had around the house already. A storm kettle made the fire box and chimney to distance the food from the heat. For the smoking chamber I hijacked a terracotta pot, lining up the hole in its base with the chimney and covering the top with a convenient lump of firewood.
One ad-hoc smoker.

To support the garlic in the pot I simply used some wire mesh. I peeled the bulbs down to cloves so that the smoke could have the minimum layers of papery skin to get through.

The garlic balanced on some chicken wire to let the smoke get at it. This pot is only small - some of those cloves are tiny!

To generate the smoke I used a couple of lumps of lit charcoal buried in a mix of damp and dry oak shavings. Occasionally I added some sprigs of rosemary for extra aromatic scents. This fire needed to tick over very slowly and did require tending every 30 minutes or so.

Charcoal, sawdust and rosemary. Pungent.

I left the whole lot to smoke away slowly for around 5-6 hours. This wasn't a very long smoke as I didn't want to commit days to building up the cold smoke - manually checking the fire every half hour would have been very time consuming!

Smoke wafts out from under the lid.

Once done the garlic cloves smelt wonderful and were turning a golden colour. I peeled the cloves and minced them, preserving them in the freezer. Generally the gloves were still firm, indicating that I didn't get it too hot. With garlic (or so my reading informs me) if you hot smoke it they go to mush and become suitable for using as a dip but won't have the strength for use as proper garlic any more. The end result has certainly seemed tasty in several meals!

The finished product.
To preserve it I stuck the minced garlic in oil and froze it. It is a bit awkward to get out the jar but it's better than botulism!


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