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Garlic + Oil, Why is this recipe safe?

larubbio Dec 29, 2012 05:29 PM

I've read other questions here and elsewhere that talk about the danger of garlic in oil. I'm trying to figure out why this recipe is safe:


The basic recipe calls for a pickling liquid of vinegar, water and salt. The vegetables are boiled for three minutes and then scooped out and placed in a pickling marinade of oil, sliced raw garlic and a chili. The vegetables and marinade (but not the vinegar solution) are placed in jars and stored for up to three months.

As far as I can tell shouldn't this recipe be at a high risk for botulism contamination?

  1. chefj Dec 29, 2012 07:22 PM

    Yes, it is high risk for botulism. It is not safe.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chefj
      smaki Dec 30, 2012 01:06 AM

      +1, chefj is right on. NOT SAFE.

      Food Network chefs prepare food to eat immediately for a TV show then share recipes online at http://www.foodnetwork.com to support their TV shows (so viewers can watch and not frantically write it down for later).

      Be careful with websites when online rumors spread faster than facts. Especially without total accountability.

      Long-term food storage is when there is a potential DEADLY problem. Get more-specific recipes from reliable well-proven sources. A must when can and preserve. Putting yourself, friends, and family in the position to be a 'tester' is a DANGEROUS game where you do not need to roll the dice.

      Good information in a similar recent thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/883913

    2. c
      Chowrin Dec 29, 2012 07:37 PM

      if you must do the recipe, seal the jars in the pressure cooker (someone's got a recipe online). Thats apparently safe.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Chowrin
        C. Hamster Dec 30, 2012 09:14 AM

        How is that safer ?

        1. re: C. Hamster
          sunshine842 Dec 30, 2012 09:18 AM

          because pressure canning renders low-acid foods safer in long-term storage.

          1. re: sunshine842
            smaki Dec 30, 2012 10:11 AM

            And pressure canning can turn many things into mush (due to overheating, overcooking, pressure, ...). Is best to start with a proven from trusted source very specific pressure canning recipe with exact measurements, times, etc. Especially with low-acid foods. Making up a pressure canning recipe from scratch is not recommended for average home cooks.

            1. re: smaki
              Chowrin Dec 30, 2012 12:09 PM

              true. but someone posted about garlic infused oil with pressure canning. So the recipe does exist.

              1. re: Chowrin
                smaki Dec 30, 2012 06:09 PM

                Chowrin, a link would be useful - what recipe are you talking about?

                "someone posted about garlic infused oil with pressure canning. So the recipe does exist."

            2. re: sunshine842
              C. Hamster Dec 30, 2012 04:18 PM

              Why, though?


              1. re: C. Hamster
                tastesgoodwhatisit Dec 30, 2012 11:02 PM

                The big danger in canning is botulism. It's deadly, and it thrives in low oxygen environments (like in a canning jar).

                High acid kills botulism - so high acid canning like pickles is pretty safe. Jams are often cooked in a hot water bath, which, combined with the high sugar level sugar and acidity of fruit, kills anything in there, and keeps it sterile.

                High heat kills botulism too, *but* you need a temperature higher than that of boiling water. So pressure canning lets it get to a higher temperature than boiling water, which kills any botulism bacteria present, rendering the contents safe for long term storage.

            3. re: C. Hamster
              Chowrin Dec 30, 2012 12:08 PM

              pressurizing it is akin to keeping it at a higher temperature.

              1. re: Chowrin
                sunshine842 Dec 30, 2012 12:54 PM


          2. h
            hsk Dec 29, 2012 09:01 PM

            It's not really garlic-in-oil, it's a little bit of garlic in mostly water/vinegar with some oil. Looks pretty safe to me, especially if you refrigerate it after you put it together.

            1 Reply
            1. re: hsk
              larubbio Dec 29, 2012 10:04 PM

              The garlic is added to the oil. The water/vinegar is used to boil the vegetables, but then it is discarded. The bulk of the liquid in the jars is oil. (But yes there are only about 5 cloves total) The only vinegar is the residual that is left on the vegetables after straining them.

            2. DiningDiva Dec 29, 2012 10:15 PM

              The vegetables are first cooked in a pickling liquid containing both acid and salt. My guess is that they will absorb enough of both, or have some residual pickling liquid still clinging to them to add enough acidity or salinity to the marinade to reduce the risk that the garlic has to develop botulism.

              1 Reply
              1. re: DiningDiva
                chefj Dec 30, 2012 10:26 AM

                Oil and water do not mix(in this case anyway).
                The garlic is mixed with the oil first which would keep it protected from the acid and salt and provide the Anaerobic Environment that the Clostridium Botulinum grows in.

              2. sunshine842 Dec 30, 2012 01:17 AM

                Not one I'm going to try.

                Pressure canning would reduce the risk, but still doesn't move it into a must-have in my pantry.

                1. chefj Dec 30, 2012 10:27 AM

                  You could add the garlic to the brine and all would be well.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: chefj
                    sunshine842 Dec 30, 2012 12:55 PM

                    So long as there's no oil, yep.

                    1. re: sunshine842
                      chefj Dec 31, 2012 07:56 AM

                      After the garlic is is cooked in the brine you can add the chili and oil mix safely.

                      1. re: chefj
                        DiningDiva Dec 31, 2012 08:32 AM

                        And that, really, is all you have to do to make the posted recipe safer. I was surprised to see that the garlic was not cooked with the brine, but was, instead, put in the canning jar raw with the oil. It is, frankly, more logical to me to put the garlic in the brine for a better flavor hit, and a better chance of the garlic marrying well with the rest of the ingredients, not to mention the whole garlic-in-oil safety issue.

                        Anerobic organisms like neither acid nor salt and the brine has both. Cooking the garlic in the brine would certainly saturate it with acid and salt making it an unsatisfactory host.

                        1. re: DiningDiva
                          smaki Dec 31, 2012 08:58 AM

                          Maybe in reply to: "Cooking the garlic in the brine would certainly saturate it with acid and salt making it an unsatisfactory host."

                          To store garlic in oil, if someone does "place the sliced vegetables in the boiling pickling liquid and leave for around 3 minutes" per OP recipe is it really long enough?

                          Possibly if garlic is sliced see-through thin.

                          Next question to consider - What is the risk for the other non-acidic vegetable with herb combinations if used? For example, onions and bay leaves? Or any of the suggested possibilities?

                          It is best to be cautious here. Particularly if give such a 'present' to others as OP recipe suggests.

                  2. Bacardi1 Dec 30, 2012 03:05 PM

                    NOT SAFE. Food Network nothwithstanding - NOT SAFE.

                    No recipe is worth risking your life or the lives of others.

                    And Jamie Oliver is an idiot. He's the LAST person I'd trust re: knowing anything about food safety.

                    If you're bent on trying the recipe, refrigerate the jars IMMEDIATELY & plan on using them up in a week or less. After that, toss 'em.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Bacardi1
                      smaki Dec 30, 2012 06:13 PM

                      +1, Bacardi1. OP, larubbio, recipe link posted from Jamie Oliver at Food Network above is NOT SAFE.

                      For those who have further questions please read: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/food-aliment/garlic-ail-eng.php from ChiliDude at: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/849289

                      Wise people will skip the OP recipe as is not worth the risk of sickness or death. For those who insist do realize if you eat garlic-in-oil kept wrong that contains the toxins, you can get botulism, a potentially fatal food poisoning that could cause the following symptoms:

                      Blurred or double vision
                      Difficulty in swallowing, breathing and speaking
                      Paralysis that gets worse with time

                      Commercially prepared garlic-in-oil products for sale use salt or acids in the list of ingredients and consumers once open must follow directions for storing left over product. Is pre-made garlic-in-oil worth the risk when fresh tastes great and is simple to make as need in small quantity (then toss what does not get used to avoid all risk)?

                    2. meatn3 Dec 30, 2012 07:01 PM

                      I saw this recipe several months ago and was surprised.

                      Just a thought - could it be safely made using the jarred garlic you can purchase? Istr reading that this garlic has been treated in some fashion to eliminate the risk of botulism.

                      Hoping someone with more knowledge will address this!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: meatn3
                        sunshine842 Dec 31, 2012 01:59 AM

                        No -- once you open the jar, you then expose it to *whatever* is in the air, including botulinum spores....plus the additional potential contamination from the chili, herbs, etc., etc., etc.

                      2. b
                        benk Jan 26, 2014 12:32 PM

                        So many people have opinions about food safety, particularly those based on a precautionary principle that assumes danger in absence of data, that I wouldn't listen to anything of the chowhound opinions that don't present data or the methods for getting appropriate data. In this case, without relative risk calculations (i.e. do it a bunch of times and see if you get anaerobic spoilage), I would recommend testing the pH of the resulting product and determining whether it is in the safe range.

                        Another area where this comes up is time/temperature. The number of people - even food safety professionals - with completely uninformed opinions is ludicrous. I've had to review the primary literature myself to get the appropriate pH and water activity adjusted time-kill curves for enteric pathogens.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: benk
                          sunshine842 Jan 26, 2014 12:51 PM

                          we'll let you try it yourself.

                          If you survive, let us know how it went.

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