Table of Contents:
- Introduction to Garlic Confit
- What is Garlic Confit?
- The History and Origins of Garlic Confit
- The Benefits of Garlic Confit
- How to Make Garlic Confit
- Step-by-Step Instructions
- Storing and Preserving Garlic Confit
- Serving Suggestions for Garlic Confit
- Spread on Breads and Crackers
- Added to Sauces and Dressings
- Mixed into Vegetables and Grains
- Frequently Asked Questions About Garlic Confit
Garlic confit is a preserved garlic specialty that originates from French cuisine. It involves slow-cooking garlic cloves in olive oil, which softens the cloves and infuses the oil with delicious garlic flavor. The confit process allows the garlic to be stored for extended periods of time without spoiling. Garlic confit is simple to prepare, but requires patience as the garlic cloves are gently cooked over low heat for an hour or more. The result is tender garlic cloves swimming in golden olive oil that takes on a mellow, sweet garlic flavor. Garlic confit makes a wonderful addition to dressings, marinades, pastas, breads, vegetables, and more. Read on to learn all about the history, benefits, and uses of garlic confit.
What is Garlic Confit?
Garlic confit is garlic cloves that have been slowly cooked and infused in olive oil. The term “confit” means “to preserve” in French.
Confit techniques were traditionally used to cook and preserve duck, goose, and other meats in their own fat. This same technique can be applied to garlic.
The slow cooking softens the garlic and tempers its sharp, pungent flavor. The oil acts as a preserving agent, allowing the garlic confit to be stored for extended periods without spoiling.
The cooking and preservation process combines to produce soft, spreadable garlic cloves saturated in rich, mellow garlic-infused olive oil. Garlic confit is simple to make at home with just a few ingredients. It can be made in larger batches and stored for later use.
The History and Origins
Garlic confit originates from the Provence region of southern France, which is known for its olive oil and garlic production.
The method of slow-cooking garlic in oil first became popular centuries ago as a way to preserve fresh garlic so it could be used throughout the year. Before refrigeration existed, techniques like confit were necessary to prevent foods from spoiling quickly. Not only did the confit process preserve the garlic for storage, but it had the added bonus of mellowing the garlic’s sharp bite.
French country cooks would prepare large batches of garlic confit after the fall olive and garlic harvest. The confit would be stored in jars and used sparingly to flavor dishes throughout the winter when fresh garlic was in short supply.
Over time, garlic confit became a beloved specialty ingredient rather than just a preservation method.
Today, garlic confit is still most common in Provence, but has become popular throughout France and around the world as interest in French cuisine has grown. It remains a staple in many Provençal kitchens and restaurants and is often seen served alongside crusty bread, flavoring aioli, or added to Provençal classics like bouillabaisse stew.
The simplicity and versatility of garlic confit has helped it earn a place in many cuisines beyond traditional Provençal cooking.
In addition to its incredible flavor, garlic confit provides some excellent health benefits:
- Preserves Raw Garlic Properties – The low heat cooking process preserves many of raw garlic’s beneficial compounds like allicin that provide antiviral, antibacterial and antioxidant properties.
- Boosts Heart Health – Garlic is known to support cardiovascular health by helping to improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and prevent plaque buildup in arteries.
- Contains Anti-Inflammatory Compounds – Compounds in garlic have anti-inflammatory effects that may help reduce inflammation throughout the body.
- Provides Antioxidants – Garlic contains antioxidants like vitamin C, quercetin and allixin that help neutralize harmful free radicals and reduce oxidative stress.
- Garlic confit – Antioxidants and compounds like allicin in garlic help strengthen the immune system and fight off viruses and infections.
- Garlic confit- Compounds in garlic appear to boost brain health by improving cognition, memory and preventing neurodegeneration.
So in addition to its great flavor, garlic confit offers an easy way to gain the many health benefits of garlic. It provides a nutritious addition to dressings, marinades, breads, grains and veggies.
How to Make Garlic Confit
Making garlic confit at home is simple. All it requires is low, slow cooking to transform the garlic cloves into a sweet, spreadable confit. Here is an easy garlic confit recipe to try:
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 12 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
- Small sprigs of thyme, rosemary or sage (optional)
- Small saucepan or pot with lid
- Mesh strainer
- Sterilized glass jar with lid for storage
- Peel the outermost papery skin off the garlic cloves, but leave each clove intact with skin still on. Rinse and thoroughly pat the garlic cloves dry with a paper towel.
- Add the olive oil and whole garlic cloves to a small saucepan or pot. You want the garlic to be fully submerged in oil. Add in a couple small herb sprigs like thyme, rosemary, or sage if desired for extra flavor.
- Place the pot over low heat on the stove. Bring the oil to a very gentle simmer between 180°F to 200°F. Be careful not to let the oil get too hot, which can burn the garlic.
- Let the garlic confit at a light simmer for at least 1 hour, and up to 3 hours for maximum flavor. Occasionally gently turn the cloves over for even cooking. The garlic is ready when softened and golden brown.
- Once cooked, immediately remove the pot from heat and let the confit cool slightly. Strain out the garlic and transfer to a sterilized jar.
- Filter the oil through a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth to remove any sediment. Pour the clean oil over the garlic cloves to cover.
- Allow the confit to cool fully then seal the jar. Refrigerate and use within 1 month.
The low heat simmering gently infuses the olive oil with garlic flavor as the cloves soften. Be patient and let the garlic confit slowly cook to develop the best flavor. The resulting tender garlic and aromatic oil can be used in many dishes.
Storing and Preserving Garlic Confit
- Store sealed garlic confit jar in the refrigerator up to 1 month
- Use sterilized jar and ensure garlic is fully covered by oil
- Refrigerate immediately after preparing
- Discard if you see any mold, off smells or bits of garlic turning blue/green
- Only use clean, dry utensils when removing garlic cloves for use
- Never keep garlic confit at room temperature or return used cloves back into confit jar
Properly stored garlic confit can last for 1 month refrigerated. The key is using sterilized equipment and keeping the confit sealed in the fridge to prevent contamination and spoilage. With careful storage methods, you can enjoy your homemade garlic confit for up to a month.
Serving Suggestions for Garlic Confit
Garlic confit has a sweet, mellow garlic flavor that makes it incredibly versatile in cooking. Here are some delicious ways to use up garlic confit:
Spread on Breads and Crackers:
- Garlic bread
- Crackers and cheese
Added to Sauces and Dressings:
- Compound butter
Mixed into Vegetables and Grains:
- Garlic mushrooms
- Mashed potatoes
- Roasted vegetables
- Tomato sauce
Garlic confit can be used any time a recipe calls for garlic. Spread it on breads and pizzas, stir it into pasta, add dollops to soup, mix it into dips and veggies – the possibilities are endless! Start with a small amount and add more garlic flavor as desired.
Frequently Asked Questions About Garlic Confit
Here are answers to some common questions about making and using garlic confit:
- Can I use any type of olive oil?
It’s best to use a high-quality extra virgin olive oil. The flavor will really come through since the oil is not heated to high temperatures.
- How long does garlic confit last in the fridge?
Stored properly in a sealed sterilized jar, garlic confit will last about 1 month refrigerated.
- What’s the best way to remove garlic cloves from the jar?
Use clean, dry utensils each time you open the jar to prevent introducing moisture and bacteria. It’s best to remove only the amount of garlic needed for one use and refrigerate the remaining confit immediately.
- Can I double or triple the recipe?
Absolutely! Just maintain the same 1:8 ratio of garlic cloves to olive oil and use a larger pot if needed. Store the larger batch in multiple smaller jars.
- Is garlic confit safe to eat raw?
Yes, the gentle cooking process does not destroy the natural active compounds in the garlic, so it is safe to consume raw spread on bread or mixed into dressings.
- Can I use the infused olive oil for other uses?
Definitely! The rich, garlic-infused oil can be used for sautéing, roasting vegetables, making vinaigrettes, drizzling over pasta, and any other way you want to add garlic flavor.
- Why keep the peel on the garlic?
Leaving some of the peel helps hold the garlic cloves together during long simmering. The peel gets removed before eating.
Garlic confit is simple to make and use. Follow proper storage methods and it will keep for weeks in the fridge to add sweet garlic flavor whenever you need it!
Garlic confit is a traditional French preserved garlic specialty that has now become popular around the world. Slow-cooking garlic cloves in olive oil tenderizes them and infuses the oil with mellow garlic flavor.
Garlic confit provides the nutritious benefits of raw garlic, along with the convenience of being able to store it for long periods without spoiling.
Making garlic confit at home requires just a few simple ingredients and some patience as the garlic infuses for 1-3 hours on low heat. Properly stored, garlic confit can be kept refrigerated for up to a month. It can be used in a multitude of dishes, from bread spreads, to dressings, sauces, veggies and more.
The sweet garlic flavor is mellower than raw garlic, making it versatile to use in both sweet and savory applications. If you enjoy garlic, making a batch of garlic confit is a great way to preserve garlic at its peak for use all year round.