Try Oil-Preserved Thistles For A Delicate Tasting Treat! [Recipe] |

Try Oil-Preserved Thistles For A Delicate Tasting Treat! [Recipe]

Thistles are wonderful vegetables that are typically harvested in the winter. They’re not really that common in kitchens, but we do have them in our garden because I love how great they taste as a side dish. So, if you’re like me and you grow these vegetables in your backyard, then you have to make these oil-preserved thistles, so you can enjoy them even out of season.

Try A Novel Flavor With These Oil-Preserved Thistles!

Thistles in oil!

This preserve involves a bit of work compared to other vegetables because the thistles have to be cleaned thoroughly. However, once they’re done, you will definitely love it and the effort will be very much worth it.

The best thing about this preserve is that the recipe isn’t really rigid, as you can replace some of the ingredients and get a slightly different flavor than usual. For example, if you add some parsley or basil leaves, you’ll increase or vary the aroma. Or, if you need a more particular flavor, why not include some lemon balm leaves or marjoram?

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A very important thing to note is that all ingredients must be acidified in the vinegar solution and dried really well. This prevents any botulinum risk, or any mold from forming in the ingredients.

Let’s can these thistles!

So, to make this preserve, we’ll need the thistles, white wine vinegar that has at least 6% acidity, water, garlic, peppercorn, and the extra virgin olive oil.

To start, we’ll need to really clean out the thistles, remove the thorns, filaments, and the leathery base. Cut them into small 7-8 cm long pieces, then wash those really well to ensure there are absolutely no traces of dirt.

Next, we’ll make the vinegar solution to blanch the thistles. Simply boil the water and vinegar, add a bit of salt, then add the garlic and peppercorns.

Blanch the thistles in the vinegar solution for 2 minutes; this process prevents the risk of botulinum. Then drain and dry with a clean kitchen towel. It is crucial that they are completely dry to prevent mold growth.

Once completely dried, you can now transfer them into jars that we’ve previously sterilized. Include the garlic and pepper you’ve used in the solution and then pour in the olive oil until the thistles are totally covered; pour it slowly to make sure it gets into all the nooks and crannies.

Place your sterilized spacer then cover the jar. We’ll have to wait 30 minutes so the vegetables really settle in. If after 30 minutes you notice the oil level drop, top it up with more oil to cover the thistles.

Process your jars for 20 minutes, make sure to account for your altitude and adjust the time. Cool completely then check if the jar is vacuum-sealed. Place in your pantry and that’s it!

Once done, they provide a delicately-tasting side to your meat dishes. Oh, how I love them in a roast!

Oil-preserved Thistles

Recipe by Gillian Lightman


  • 3.3 lb (1.5 kg) of thistles

  • 3 cup (700 ml) white wine vinegar (6% acidity)

  • 3 cup (700 ml) water

  • 4 garlic cloves

  • 1 3/4 cup (400 ml) extra virgin olive oil

  • salt

  • black pepper


  • Clean thistles thoroughly, remove thorns, any filaments, and the leathery base.
  • Slice into 7 cm long pieces then wash well.
  • Bring the mixture of vinegar, water and salt to the boil.
  • Add garlic and peppercorn.
  • Blanch thistles for 2 minutes, then drain and dry them completely in a clean kitchen towel.
  • Place thistles into pre-sterilized jars.
  • Add the garlic and peppercorns you’ve used in the vinegar mixture.
  • Pour oil until thistles are fully submerged.
  • Place pre-sterilized spacer then apply cover.
  • Let jar sit for 30 minutes to see if oil level drops. Top up if necessary.
  • Process for 20 minutes (Adjust for altitude).
  • Cool and then check for vacuum seal.
  • Store in pantry.