Saturday, April 18, 2015

Seer Torshi -- Persian Pickled Garlic!

This is a case of blogger imitating blogger.  My daughter shared with me a food blog post about pickled garlic:  the traditional slow way (takes about 7 years) and the "quick and dirty" way (takes 3 months to 1 year).  I was intrigued. 

My internet research indicates this is a popular technique for preserving vegetables.  See "Tursu" in Wikipedia:  "The pickled vegetables of the cuisines of many Balkan and Middle East countries.  The word torshi comes from torsch, which means 'sour' in the Iranian languages."  I strongly suspect it is an old, old technique since, when you get down to the basics, it really only needs a clean container, garlic, white vinegar, salt, and honey.  And a lot of time!

The idea is to fill your container with garlic heads or cloves, unpeeled, then surround it with vinegar in which honey and salt have been dissolved.  Put a weight on top to keep the garlic submerged and let the mixture ferment for a week or so.  This softens the garlic and causes it to sink, so you remove the weight, top it off with vinegar, cover it, and let it sit in a cool, dark spot for 1 to 7 years.

This website, Novel Adventures, recounts a story of a person who was offered a taste from the family stash of seer torshi:  "My mother-in-law explained the condiment's origins.  Her grandmother had made the seer torshi forty years earlier, and every time the family ate it, they could feel her presence with them."

Forty years and more!  What a way to remind your family of you long after you are gone.

I decided to try the fast method to seer torshi, as per's recipe.

Method 2:  "Quick and dirty" Seer Torshi (1 pint batch)

4 - 6 heads of garlic, or enough to tightly pack a 2 pint mason jar
2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
That's all, Folks!
  • Split heads into individual cloves but do not peel them.
  • Add garlic and white vinegar to a stainless steel pot and heat uncovered on medium-high until simmering.  Add salt and honey and simmer for an additional 5 mintues.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool.  The garlic cloves will have softened somewhat but should still be fairly firm with their skins intact.
  • Pack the garlic cloves into pre-sterilized 1 pint mason jar.  Add 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and then fill the jar with the cooled white vinegar mixture, leaving about an inch of headspace.
  • Unlike the traditional method, this garlic pickle should not ferment.  Also as that garlic is pre-cooked, it tends to sink in the brine and shouldn't need to be weighed down.  I imagine you could process the jar at this point to seal it -- I didn't bother.  Store in a cool, dark spot for a minimum of  3 months or up to 1 year.
My Notes

I made just one pint jar of this recipe as I only had 6 heads of garlic.

To sterilize my mason jar, I used the directions from Ready Nutrition:

Microwave Method
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 280 degrees Fahrenheit or 160 degrees Celsius.  The hot oven will be used to dry the jars once they have been sterilized in the microwave.
  2. Fill the jars halfway with cold water.  Place the jars in the microwave.  Depending on the size of the microwave, more than one jar can be sanitized at the same time.
  3. Heat jars in the microwave on high for around three minutes or until the water boils.   The boiling water will sanitize the inside of the jar.
  4. Place jars upside-down in the oven.  Allow the jars to drain and dry in the oven.  Once the jars have dried and are still hot, they will be ready to be filled with preserves and sealed.  Heating the jars allows them to expand so they will not break when filled with hot preserves.
Once the jar was done in the microwave (and the water definitely boiled as I found it all over the inside of the oven!), it sat in the regular oven until the cloves in vinegar had cooled.  I put the lid and band in the oven just to get them heated and possibly sterilized, too.

You can see a definite change in the garlic cloves before simmering
and after the simmering was through,

I used a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic cloves from the saucepan to the sterilized jar. 

The garlic did not float in the liquid, as the recipe specified.  I used almost all of the liquid in the saucepan to fill the jar.

After that, I sealing the jar with the band and lid.  Then I let it sit on the counter overnight before I put it away in the cupboard while it aged.  About a half hour after I sealed it, I heard a "pop" and noticed that the lid was pulled down -- a vacuum seal had been generated.

Not shaken or stirred
The Verdict

I don't know!  It certainly was easy to prepare.  I really liked not having to peel the garlic.  It didn't take long to simmer and it cooled down quickly enough that I got to bed on time.  I guess we will all have to check back on this blog in three months to a year.  I don't know how long I can actually wait!


  1. How did it turn out for you? Looking to make this for a Christmas present

  2. It was awesome! Very tasty, the sweet-and-sour combination was very appealing. What is nice, too, is that it is not a strong garlic bite. I recently shared it with a group of friends who at first were concerned about the garlic smell and ended up loving it and eating all I had for them. Check out my update post: