Garlic is well known, perhaps even legendary, for its medicinal properties and is a go-to for many people when they experience the first sign of a cold or flu. There is a way to give it a further boost and that is through fermenting it.
Fermented Garlic (also known as Black Garlic, though I can never get mine to go black) adds the benefits of probiotics from the fermentation process while reducing the strength of the taste and smell of garlic on your breath.
As the fermentation process progresses, chemicals in the Garlic such as it’s key component, Allicin, are converted to antioxidants. There could be a slight reduction in the antibacterial effects due to the reduction of the amount of Allicin but Garlic’s chock full of the stuff so I don’t think the trade off for health giving antioxidants is too bad. Fermentation also improves the availability of minerals in the Garlic, meaning that they are absorbed more easily.
How to ferment your Garlic –
Fermenting Garlic can be done in two ways. One is the classic lacto-ferment with a water and salt brine and the other is to ferment the cloves in honey.
Lacto ferment method –
All you need to lacto-fermemt your Garlic is some brine. That is, non-iodised salt and water.
There’s a few ideas on how strong to make the brine but I find that dissolving enough salt in clean water to give the water a distinctly salty taste is enough. You don’t need too much salt and, maybe you even have your favourite brine recipe already from your other kitchen ferments.
Peel enough cloves to loosley fill whatever container you are using and add your cooled brine. Leave a bit of a gap above the brine level and make sure your Garlic cloves are submerged.
Turn your jar upside down to mix everything and make sure that the cloves get exposed to the fermenting bacteria. Flip it back after a couple of days.
Put your jar in a warm place, out of direct sunlight and wait for a couple of days. You should see bubbles form on the Garlic. They’re carbon dioxide from the fermentation and shows that the fermentation is working.
Don’t panic if, during the fermentation process, you see your cloves turn green, blue or even black. That’s normal and is due to a shift in the pH of the brine. It’s just an indication that some of the compounds in the cloves are being converted into different but just as good stuff during the ferment.
Depending on the time of year, it should take 3-4 weeks to ferment. You can even leave it longer.
As I mentioned before, the fermentation process does produce carbon dioxide and pressure will build up in your jar – quite a bit of it. It can even buckle the lid on a Mason Jar!
To alleviate the pressure in the jar, all you have to do is to ‘burp’ the jar every few days. This means that you lift the lid a little to let the gas escape and reduce the pressure. You can also invest in an airlock if you’re planning to do a lot of fermentation. These let gas out while preventing oxygen from making its way in.
Fermenting Garlic in honey.
This is pretty simple too. Just put your peeled cloves loosely into a jar and fill the rest of the space with honey. Leave a little gap at the top of the jar.
The process is the same as the brine ferment. You’ll see the honey become more liquid and bubbles form Just treat it the same as the brine method.
How to use your finished ferment –
You can use the cloves from both methods as you would use garlic cloves normally in your cooking. Even eating them straight is possible now that the taste and odour have been reduced.Some cloves may even taste sweet!
The honey from the honey ferment method is now supercharged with Garlicky goodness and is now an even better cure-all than it was before, especially for sore throat, colds, flus.
A clove a day is all you need to help with most ailments. Use the honey by the spoonful, just as you would regular honey.
If you keep the brine from the lacto-ferment method, you can use it as a mouthwash and gargle for any mouth or upper respiratory ailment you may have.
A few warnings:
Fermented Garlic doesn’t appear to have major side effects, but like regular, unfermented Garlic, you should avoid it in large amounts if you take blood-thinning medications (such as Aspirin or Warfarin) or are allergic to Garlic or Sulphur compounds (of which Garlic is full).
Since salt is involved in the fermentation process, fermented Garlic will have a higher Sodium content than regular, unfermented Garlic.