Pickled garlic is mellowed. The cloves lose much of their bite, leaving a softer, sweeter garlicky flavor. They're not great to use like pure garlic, but are great when used more like pickles: to snack on, in sandwiches, in antipasto, on salads.
You see, the hard way is canning your pickled garlic. Boiling water bath, sealed lids, everything. It's really not that difficult, nor dangerous, but it's detailed, and I prefer something a little more informal.
Canned pickled garlic will last at least a year unrefrigerated, but pickled garlic the easy way will last a few months in the refrigerator.
Pickling involves bathing a food in brine and letting it cure before eating. Brine is just salt and vinegar. You can add a touch of sugar, herbs, or dried peppers, but basically you're just bathing those garlic cloves in sour salt water.
First, you need some jars. Use 4-ounce or 8-ounce jars at the largest—remember, garlic is small. Wash them in hot water. Even if you washed them before putting them away last time, wash them again – take my word for it.
Next, take the garlic and peel the cloves. Drop them into the jars. Fill to about 1/4-inch below the rim, but don't stuff them in.
Next, think about whether you want to flavor the garlic. Want a spicy edge to it? Add a small dried hot chili pepper to the jar or just some black peppercorns. You can use herbs like rosemary, dill, bay leaves, or whatever you like. They're best if you add one herb or spice rather than a bunch.
And finally, it's time for the brine. You can use straight vinegar, but it's common to add a little salt, sugar, or both to it. Red wine vinegar is excellent, but apple cider vinegar and even regular white vinegar work well, too. Experiment with the vinegar for different flavors. The easiest thing to do is put a bit of salt and/or sugar in each jar with the garlic and any extras you've added, and pour the vinegar over it all.
Add a lid and you're almost there. Just refrigerate your pickled garlic for two weeks to allow it to cure before eating it, and keep refrigerated up to a few months.
6 garlic heads, peeled and ends removed (Don't use any soft, diseased, spotted garlic)
This will make about a pint
1 1/2 cups Cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 t. Mustard seed
1/8 t. Celery seed
What you Need to do:
A trick to getting your garlic peeled:
Cut the ends off first of each clove then blanch for 30 seconds in boiling water. The skins will come right off.
Place garlic cloves in a medium bowl, first cutting the large cloves in half. Mix in the red bell pepper if you like
In a large saucepan over medium high heat, place the vinegar and white sugar. Wrap mustard and celery seed in a spice bag, and place in the liquid mixture. Bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and pepper. Continue boiling 5 minutes. Remove from heat and discard spice bag.
Place garlic and peppers in sterile containers to within 1 inch of the top. Fill with remaining liquid to within 1/4 inch from the top. Seal and store in the refrigerator approximately three weeks before serving. If you eat this fairly quickly you don't have to do the water bath canning method, it will be safe just to place in a jar in your refrigerator
Additional items you could add to the jar for different garlic flavors:
Red Bell Pepper sliced
Dried whole red chiles
Red pepper flakes
Sprig of dill