Fermented garlic has a unique taste and amazing properties. In fact, many have found it addictive and have asked me how to prepare it at home. So if you’re a garlic lover, please read on.
Some people ferment garlic together with other vegetables. In such cases, the garlic taste often dominates the batch. Others (like me) prefer to ferment garlic in separate jars and add it as a side dish. Whatever you prefer, the taste remains superb.
If you enjoy fresh garlic, you might love fermented garlic.
Green Med Info has assembled a list of more than 130 studies supporting some 150 beneficial health effects of garlic. Most of these studies are done on fresh garlic and a few on fermented garlic.
Most benefits of garlic can be enjoyed by eating one or two cloves of fresh garlic per day. However, fermenting garlic enhances its nutritional value and makes it easier for the body to digest and to assimilate the essential nutrients.
A few potential benefits of garlic
|Lowers risk of dementia||Reduces risk for heart attack||Effective against drug-resistant bacteria|
|Lessens cadmium-induced liver damage||Boosts immune system||Fights multi-drug resistant tuberculosis|
|Lowers high blood pressure||Lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol||Reduces plaque buildup in arterial system|
|Regulates blood sugar||Prevents blood clots from forming||Reduces the risk of stroke|
|Is a natural antibiotic||Removes heavy metals from the body||Has anti-fungal and anti-viral properties|
|Reduces candida||Help resolve ear infections||Good for ulcerative colitis|
Fermented garlic—enhanced benefits
Fermented garlic seems to surpass the nutritional value of fresh garlic. Studies have found that the fermentation process dramatically raises it’s properties and bioavailability which is true of most fermented foods.
- Researchers compared fresh garlic with fermented garlic and discovered that the antioxidant activity in fermented garlic is much higher.
- Studies revealed that fermented garlic contains high levels of hydrogen peroxide created during fermentation which eliminates bacteria, virus, fungi and other harmful microorganisms.
- Fresh garlic contains sugars and amino acids that during fermentation is consumed by probiotic bacteria, thus producing lactic acid which is responsible for the sour, tangy taste of fermented foods.
However, black garlic is different from fermented garlic and tastes sweet like a dessert.
How to ferment garlic
You can ferment whole garlic bulbs, or as I do here, just the cloves. Either case, try using organic or homegrown garlic as it contains fewer contaminants and more nutrients. But even standard garlic when fermented will be fine. The fermentation process helps to eliminate harmful chemicals left on vegetables.
- Start by peeling and cleaning the garlic. You don’t have to cut the cloves into smaller pieces. Leave the cloves whole but without any peel left. Fermented garlic is more appealing when cloves are fermented whole. Some people leave the root end of the cloves, but I prefer clean cloves so I cut off everything that I don’t want to consume.
- Fill a jar with garlic cloves to about 75%. The empty 25% is because during fermentation the liquid often rise and bubbles causing brine to leak out from the jar. This is normal. Just keep the garlic submerged in the brine.
- Mix filtered water and salt to make the brine. About 2 tablespoons salt to a quart (about a liter) of water.
Oxygen can ruin a batch. So if too much oxygen gets into the jar, it can cause harmful microorganisms to spoil the product. Therefore, try to keep the garlic submerged at all times. You can add a cabbage leaf on top of the jar that will help keep the garlic in the brine.
Besides garlic, water and salt, you can also add herbs, spices or vegetables to enrich the taste.For this batch, I added oregano.
The kind of jars used is not important. Use whatever you have at home.
Most recipes require salt. Just avoid refined table salt that lacks essential minerals. Use Himalayan salt or sea salt.
Here I use Himalayan salt that has a beautiful pink color and is completely natural. It also has a mild taste that I like. For a quart jar, use about two tablespoons of salt.
Some put some weight on top to press the garlic into the brine. Use whatever works best for you.
How to use fermented garlic
Fermented garlic can be used in recipes calling for raw garlic. Use the same amount of fermented garlic as you would raw. Some feel that since raw garlic has a stronger taste than fermented garlic, they can add more fermented garlic to a recipe.
You can also enjoy fermented garlic as you would enjoy pickled garlic—in salads or as a side dish.
But you might want to avoid using fermented garlic in foods you need to boil or fry since this will destroy the beneficial bacteria and sensitive nutrients. Instead, add the fermented garlic just before you serve the food.
Fermented garlic salad dressing
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Fresh basil
- 2 cloves fermented garlic, pressed or cut small
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Done!
Fermented garlic butter
Wonderful on fresh bread, together with boiled potatoes and with meat. Very simple, just mix all ingredients well in a bowl and you’re done. Store in fridge in a air-tight jar.
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 2-3 cloves of fermented garlic, pressed
- Salt, pepper
- Finely cut fresh basil (optional)
Pickled garlic not the same
Pickled garlic usually refers to garlic being preserved in some acidic liquid usually vinegar, salt, sugar, and herbs. This is done without fermenting the garlic and hence it does not contain the same beneficial bacteria and enzymes. However, pickling and fermenting do overlap since fermented foods are also preserved in an acidic, lactic acid rich brine.
Homemade pickled garlic is very tasty. However, I don’t think it equals fermented garlic with its unique combination of probiotic bacteria, lactic acid, and many other bioavailable nutrients created during the fermentation process.
If you follow the guidelines above, not much can go wrong. However, if sometimes do happen, here are a few common issues.
Garlic turned green
Completely harmless. The fermented garlic can safely be consumed.
Reason: The acidic environment and sulfur compounds present in garlic promote the formation of a chlorophyll-like substance. Chlorophyll is what makes leaves green. Under the right conditions, several natural chemicals react with each other and with amino acids, thus creating clusters of carbon-nitrogen rings called pyrroles. The ring structures absorb particular wavelengths of light and thus appear colored. Some molecules look red, others blue or green. All these pigments are perfectly safe to eat.
In some parts of China, they deliberately create green garlic as this is considered appealing.
Garlic turned blue
Same reason as mentioned above. A mixture of onion and garlic can add a blue tone to your garlic. These pigments result from a combination of enzyme activity and chemical reactions. Some people like the blue color. You get the most intense color by mashing garlic and onion together, then warming the puree on low heat to speed up the reaction without destroying the enzymes.
I wish you all success with your next fermented garlic batch!