Seer Torshi (haft saleh)/ (seven-year) Pickled Garlic
Some of life’s luxuries are simple, inexpensive, but luxurious nonetheless. Seer torshi haft saleh is one such luxury. Seer torshi haft saleh is the pickled garlic, aged for seven years, of Persia (Iran). Whole fists of garlic—skin and all—are rinsed clean in cool water and allowed to air-dry in a colander or sieve. Once dry, the garlic fists are stacked upright into a large, hot water-sterilized glass jar. One-half teaspoon of salt is added for each fist of garlic; then regular, room-temperature, cider vinegar is poured over the garlic fists, completely covering them. The glass jar is then tightly sealed—preferably with a glass or plastic lid to avoid corrosion over time—and placed in a cool, dark place for at least seven years (and sometimes for as long as 20 years!). The result: soft, candy-sweet, amber-colored, garlic fists, the cloves of which are eaten one by one (along with the softened skin) as a delicacy to accompany any savory dish or as a cocktail treat, the way olives or smoked nuts may be eaten as an appetizer. Some Persian families establish a jar of seer torshi each year on Nowruz (also spelled “Norooz,” “Nourooz,” etc.), the first day of spring, the New Year’s Day of the Persian calendar. Each jar is identified by the year of its establishment.
[ When the luxury of time is not available, a “quick” version of seer torshi may be made: Rinsed, air-dried garlic fists are stacked upright into a large glass jar; a mixture of cider and balsamic or wine vinegars, salt, and about a tablespoon of honey is brought to a boil; the hot vinegar mixture is then poured over the garlic fists, completely covering them; the jar is then tightly sealed and placed in a cool, dark place for about two or three months before the succulent garlic fists are served. ]