Fermented garlic has a unique taste and amazing properties. Many have asked about how to go about preparing it at home. So if you’re a garlic lover, please read on.
Some people add garlic when fermenting vegetables like cabbage, ginger, carrots, and others. 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 will probably love fermented garlic.
How to ferment garlic
Fermenting garlic dramatically changes its properties and bioavailability which is true of most fermented foods. During fermentation, new compounds are produced like hydrogen peroxide, antioxidants, and lactic acid.
You can ferment whole garlic bulbs or just the cloves. Use organic or homegrown if you can.
- Peel and clean the garlic
Leave the cloves whole but without the peel. You can also try fermenting whole garlic bulbs which look very appealing when they are done. The procedure is the same, you just don’t need to remove all the peel and it might take at least two to three months to ferment.
- Prepare the brine
Completely dissolve the salt in water to make the brine. Use about 2-3 tablespoons salt to a quart (about a liter) of water. Use whatever jar you have at home, for example Mason jars.
- Fill the jars
Fill a jar with garlic cloves to about 75%. The empty 25% is needed during fermentation as the liquid will rise and bubbles can cause brine to leak out from the jar. This is normal. Besides garlic, water, and salt, try adding herbs, spices, or vegetables to enrich the look and taste. In the jar below, I added oregano. Try also black pepper, fennel, red pepper, chili, or fresh dill. It’s exciting to add something different in each jar.
- Keep the garlic submerged
It’t important to keep oxygen from the garlic as much as possible otherwise it can spoil the taste or invite unwanted microorganisms. Keep the garlic submerged in the brine. Try putting a cabbage leaf on top or use some weight to press the garlic down in the liquid.
- Ferment at room temperature
Leve the jar to ferment for 1-3 months in a dark place. Your patience will be rewarded as the taste greatly improves with time. Taste the garlic after a month or so to determine when the cloves are ready. The garlic should be soft, tangy and taste much milder than raw garlic.
- Store in a cool place
When it’s ready, store it in a cool place like a cellar or fridge. However, if the smell leaks from the jar then everything in the fridge might taste garlic. In any case, the garlic will keep for many months. In fact, I think the taste improves with more time.
How to use fermented garlic
Fermented garlic can be used in recipes calling for raw garlic. As fermented garlic is milder than raw garlic, you don’t have to be too picky with amounts.
You can also enjoy the fermented cloves as you would enjoy pickled garlic—in salads or as a side dish.
Avoid boiling or frying the garlic as high temperatures will destroy the beneficial bacteria and heat-sensitive enzymes and nutrients. Instead, add the garlic just before serving the meal.
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Fresh basil
- 2 pressed cloves fermented garlic (or cut small)
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Done!
This is wonderful on freshly baked bread, with boiled potatoes, and with meat. The recipe is very simple—just mix all ingredients well in a bowl and you’re done. Store in fridge in an air-tight jar.
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 2-3 cloves of pressed fermented garlic
- Salt, pepper
- Finely cut fresh basil (optional)
I wish you all success with your next fermented garlic batch!
Some black is prepared in a fermentation process that includes live bacteria. However, the taste of black garlic differs completely from the recipes in this post. Black garlic is sweet and soft; it’s like candy.
Pickled garlic usually refers to garlic being preserved in some acidic mix of 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, it does not equal fermented garlic with its unique combination of probiotic bacteria and the many bioavailable nutrients created during the fermentation process.
This is usually completely harmless. 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. Some deliberately create green garlic as this looks appealing.
Same reason as when the garlic turn green 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.
There are no rules. However, some say it’s best to consume fermented garlic with main meals.