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Fermented Garlic

Garlic lovers rejoice! Fermenting garlic is a great way to add depth of flavor to any dish especially if you love the taste of garlic.

The fermentation process amplifies the natural sweetness of garlic, while also softening its sharpness. As a result, fermented garlic can be used in a variety of ways, from adding a subtle boost to roasted vegetables to making a simple pasta sauce truly extraordinary.

In addition to being incredibly versatile, fermented garlic is also incredibly easy to make.

Give fermented garlic a try. It just might become your new favorite cooking ingredient.

This easy fermented garlic recipe is dedicated to subtlety.

Fermented garlic in a mason jar with a glass fermentation weight.
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Tips + Tricks

No. 1 --> Do not overfill your mason jar with brine, this can extend fermentation time, instead, ensure that the garlic cloves are just covered.

No. 2 --> Use a vented lid, like a pickle pipe or airlock lid - otherwise, you'll have to burp your garlic daily, or risk a bottle explosion - just like when brewing kombucha!

No. 3 --> Don't be alarmed if the garlic turns blue! This color change is a normal chemical reaction to fermentation.

No. 4 --> The art of fermentation is a great way to preserve fresh garlic for a very long time. As a family who eats a lot of garlic, we preserve garlic in a number of ways; dehydrated garlic and smoked garlic are two of my favorite ways.

What Is Lacto-Fermentation

The Lacto fermentation process uses beneficial bacteria to convert sugars into lactic acid. The premise behind it is to create foods full of probiotic goodness using salt or salt brine to keep the bad bacteria at bay and help proliferate the good bacteria. Lacto-fermentation the traditional way is dairy free - the bacteria produce lactic acid, not lactose.

This fermenting process preserves food and enhances its nutritional value. The lactic acid produced during lacto-fermentation acts as a natural preservative, preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.

In addition, lacto fermentation increases the bioavailability of vitamins and minerals, making it a great way to boost the nutritional content of your diet.

Perhaps best of all, lacto fermentation the easiest ferment to learn and can be easily mastered at home with little to no specialized equipment. With a little patience and the right ingredients, you make lacto-fermented garlic cloves!

Fermented garlic in two jars.

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Why Make Fermented Garlic

Anyone who's ever made their own sauerkraut, sour cabbage, or ginger bug knows that fermentation is a magical process. Fermenting garlic is no exception to that rule.

  • Fermented garlic is rich in beneficial biotics, which can help keep your gut healthy and promote a strong immune system, especially during flu season! I'm all for the health benefits!
  • It's an easy and effective way to preserve garlic for an extended period of time. The fermentation process prevents the garlic from sprouting and developing mold.
  • Fermented garlic also has a softer, milder flavor than raw garlic, making it a great addition to homemade salad dressings, sauces, and dips. It's incredibly flavorful and versatile.
  • This simple recipe requires only 3 ingredients and no starter.

Fermenting Garlic Smells

Yes, some might even say it stinks.

If you ferment your goods in the kitchen, be prepared for a nasal assault!

The strong scents can be mitigated by using an airlock or bubble lock fermenting lid or by tucking it in a seldom-used cupboard.

The results are worth the hassle!

Key Ingredients

Garlic: Choose fresh, firm garlic bulbs for this recipe. They definitely take a little work to peel for this recipe but the results are superior to using pre-peeled cloves. Peeled galic cloves can work, but they are not my first choice when it comes to garlic, ever.

Salt: Choose mineral sea salt for the best flavor profile or coarse kosher salt for the most neutral salt flavor.

Water: Spring water or well water works great in fermenting recipes. Avoid chlorinated water wherever possible as chlorine can and will affect microbial activity. I use straight well water or well water run through my RO system for all my ferments.

Labeled photo of ingredients required for fermented garlic.

How To Ferment Garlic

Prepare The Garlic:

  1. Prepare for fermenting by washing a pint size jar and lid. It does not have to be sanitized or sterilized, but should be washed well with soap and hot running water. Set aside to dry.
  2. Peel 5-6 heads of garlic and place the whole cloves into the prepared jar, leaving 1 inch headspace. My favorite easy way to peel a ton of garlic is to break each clove away from the bulb, then slice the bottom and top of each clove, generally, you're able to grab the papery skin when cutting the top and just peel it away.

Prepare The Brine:

  1. In a bowl, combine 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt and room temperature water. Whisk until the salt is completely dissolved.
  2. Pour the salt water brine over the garlic and ensure each clove is covered. If you have a fermentation weight, set it on top of the garlic to keep it submerged. If you do not have a fermentation weight, crumple up a piece of parchment paper and press it down on top of the garlic cloves or fill a plastic bag with brine and seal it before placing on top of the garlic. No matter which way you do this, it's important to keep the garlic submerged in the brine to avoid contamination.

Ferment The Garlic:

  1. Each day, you'll need to open the lid of your ferment. This is called burping. It allows the CO2 to escape the fermentation vessel and prevent pressure build-up. This is not necessary if you're using a pickle pipe or airlock lid - these lids will vent excess pressure on their own.
  2. Place your jar in a cool place to ferment for at least 3 weeks. Begin tasting the garlic at the 3 week mark to see if the flavor is how you like it. Continue fermenting for up to 5 weeks.
Garlic in salt brine with a pickle pipe lid.

Batch + Storage

Batch:

This recipe as written fills a pint jar, but it can easily be doubled to fill a quart jar. Or more.

If you LOVE to ferment garlic and don't mind peeling garlic cloves, you can make as much as you like! Just keep the brine ratio the same. 1 tablespoon of salt per quart of water.

Storage:

Store finished garlic in the fridge or in a cold room with temperatures near 37f or 4c. These low temperatures don't kill the bacteria in the ferment but they slow them down drastically ensuring the quality of your hard work stays for a long time. These temperatures are the sweet spot between ensuring the microbes stay alive but dormant, so you're able to cash in on the health benefits without worrying about contamination from molds or other bad actors.

Storage temperatures that are too high will allow the microbes to continue digesting the garlic and eventually, they'll consume everything, then begin to die off and the ferment will be lost

It is important to store your ferments properly!

Fermenting garlic in an airlock jar.

Using Fermented Garlic

Use fermented garlic exactly as you would use raw garlic cloves. They add such a great flavor to garlic-heavy recipes - though if you're looking to cash in on the health benefits, avoid using the fermented stuff on recipes that require cooking.

  • add to your loaded guacamole
  • mash with butter to make a garlic paste for homemade garlic bread
  • add to pasta sauces and pesto
  • slice on sandwiches
  • add to a charcuterie board
  • sub for regular garlic in sous vide mashed potatoes

That said, I would avoid using your fermented garlic in recipes that require unpeeled cloves, like roasted garlic or smoked garlic.

More Fermentation Recipes To Love

Glass jar: As an avid food preserver, I've always got jars kicking around. A clean glass jar and a lid is all you need to ferment garlic! Nothing fancy here.

Airlock Lid: If you love fermenting, it may be a good idea to invest in an air or bubble lock lid or even a pickle pipe. They reduce the need to burp your jars and it really makes the entire process the easiest thing.

📖 Printable Recipe

Fermented garlic in a jar.
Yield: 1 pint

Fermented Garlic

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Fermented garlic is one of the most flavorful and versatile ingredients you can add to your kitchen. Unlike fresh garlic, which can be harsh and pungent, fermented garlic is rich and mellow, with a deep umami flavor. It's perfect for adding depth to stews, sauces, and marinades, and it's also delicious on its own. Best of all, fermenting garlic is easy to do at home with just a few simple ingredients; fresh garlic cloves and high quality salt!

Ingredients

  • 5-6 garlic bulbs
  • 2 cups room temperature water
  • 1/2 tablespoon sea salt

Instructions

  1. Prepare for fermenting by washing a pint-size jar and lid. It does not have to be sanitized or sterilized but should be washed well with soap and hot running water. Set aside to dry.
  2. Peel 5-6 heads of garlic and pack the cloves into the prepared jar, leaving 1-inch headspace.
  3. In a bowl, combine 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt and room-temperature water. Whisk until the salt is completely dissolved.
  4. Pour the salt water brine over the garlic and ensure each clove is covered. Weigh down the garlic with a fermentation weight or a crumpled piece of parchment paper covered in brine. It is important to keep the garlic submerged. Place the lid on the jar.
  5. Each day, you'll need to open the lid and burp your ferment. This allows built-up C02 to escape the jar and is necessary to do if you're using a standard lid. You will not need to burp if you're using a pickle pipe or airlock lid.
  6. Place your jar in a cool place to ferment for at least 3 weeks. Begin tasting the garlic at the 3-week mark to see if the flavor is how you like it. Continue fermenting for up to 5 weeks.

Notes

Batch:

This recipe as written fills a pint jar, but it can easily be doubled to fill a quart jar. Or more.

If you LOVE to ferment garlic and don't mind peeling garlic cloves, you can make as much as you like! Just keep the brine ratio the same. 1 tablespoon of salt per quart of water.

Storage:

Store finished garlic in the fridge or in a cold room with temperatures near 37f or 4c. These low temperatures don't kill the bacteria in the ferment but they slow them down drastically ensuring the quality of your hard work stays for a long time. These temperatures are the sweet spot between ensuring the microbes stay alive but dormant, so you're able to cash in on the health benefits without worrying about contamination from molds or other bad actors.

Storage temperatures that are too high will allow the microbes to continue digesting the garlic and eventually, they'll consume everything, then begin to die off and the ferment will be lost

It is important to store your ferments properly!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

30

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 106mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

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2 ingredient fermented garlic pinterest graphic.
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