Fermented garlic adds a refined garlic flavour to any dish. Lacto-fermentation is a great way to enjoy garlic with all its healthy enzymes and nutrients intact.
We love lacto-fermenting garlic because it mellows out raw garlic’s acrid flavour and aroma. The resulting flavour profile is a cross between raw and roasted garlic.
What is Lacto-Fermentation?
At some point, thousands of years ago, early humans learned to use the process of fermentation to enjoy its tasty results. The most familiar fermented foods, like Korean kimchi, Jewish pickles and German sauerkraut are made using lacto-fermentation.
Most people think about beer or wine when they hear the word fermentation. While specialized yeasts are used to convert sugars in grape juice or grains into alcohol, it is tiny bacteria that are responsible for lacto-fermentation. Various strains of these bacteria are naturally present on the surface of plants, especially those growing in or close to the ground such as garlic, carrots, and jalapeños.
The naturally occurring bacteria convert sugars into lactic acid. This acid is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. Lacto-fermentation also increases and preserves the beneficial vitamin and enzyme levels, and digestibility of fermented food.
Why Make Fermented Garlic?
- if you’re keen to try fermentation for the first time it’s best to start with an easy recipe. Fermented garlic is one of the easiest fermentation recipes you’ll find.
- lacto-fermented vegetables are rich in beneficial bacteria, which have been proven to encourage healthy gut flora.
- fermenting garlic allows you to naturally preserve raw garlic to enjoy over a long period of time.
- garlic that has gone through the process of lacto-fermentation changes its flavour profile and texture over time. Many foodies find garlic ferments to be more delicious than the more pungent raw variety.
How To Peel Garlic
- roast in a low oven at 200F until the skins begin to loosen.
- peel garlic cloves with a small pairing knife.
- place the whole heads of garlic into a small pot with a lid, then shake the covered pot for a few minutes. The thin skin on the garlic cloves will fall right off.
- visit your local grocery store and purchase a bag of pre-peeled garlic cloves.
Get Creative with Fermented Garlic
Lacto-fermented garlic can be used in any recipe that calls for garlic. You ideally want to avoid using it in recipes that require cooking, as the heat will destroy the beneficial probiotics. Here are some of our favourite ways to use fermented garlic when cooking at home:
- Garlic Salad Dressing: prepare your favourite vinaigrette and replace raw minced garlic with your homemade ferment.
- Caprese Salad: top a classic tomato and mozzarella salad with your new favourite fermented condiment.
- Garlic Butter: whip crushed fermented garlic into softened butter and spread on fresh bread.
- Pesto: swap out raw minced garlic in this classic Italian recipe and toss into a cold pasta salad.
- Dips: fermented garlic is a great addition to your favourite dips such as hummus, guacamole, salsa and baba ghanoush.
- Fermented Garlic Paste: another popular way to ferment garlic is by blending the raw garlic in a food processor. The resulting fermentation produces a spreadable paste which is easy to add to sauces or smear on pizza.
- Savoury Cocktails: use a drop or two of the brine in savoury cocktails like a Bloody Mary or Caesar.
Tips on Making Fermented Garlic
Our recipe for fermented garlic looks very easy based on the short ingredients list. Since lacto-fermentation is a science, it’s best to ensure you understand how fermentation works. Here are our favourite tips and tricks to prepare fermented garlic:
- do not fill the garlic and brine all the way to the top of the jar. You want to have just enough brine to cover the garlic.
- You can speed up the fermentation process by adding a teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar or “sauerkraut juice.”
- ensure the garlic is always submerged under the liquid to prevent mould growth.
- open your lid each day to burp the jar, releasing a build up of carbon dioxide. This will help you avoid an unwanted explosion in your cupboards.
- sometimes garlic turns greenish blue when it ferments. Don’t worry it’s totally safe to eat.
How To Make Lacto-Fermented Garlic
- 10 heads garlic
- 4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons salt
- Once your garlic is peeled add the raw cloves to a mason jar so they are 1 inch from the top.
- Prepare a salt brine by dissolving salt in water.
- Pour brine into the mason jar until the garlic cloves are covered.
- Optional: add any additional flavourings such as pickling spices or fresh oregano or basil.
- Put the lid on the jar and store at room temperature in a dark place like your closet or cupboard.
- Open the jar once a day to release carbon dioxide. Fermentation fans call this "burping."
- Continue this process for 3-4 weeks until fermentation bubbles no longer form.
- Move the jar to your fridge once fermentation has completed. Fermented garlic gets more delicious as it ages!
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