How To Make Fermented Garlic

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.

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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.

Ingredients you'll need to prepare fermented garlic.
Ingredients you’ll need to prepare fermented garlic.

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.
Adding a salty brine and pickling spices to our fermented garlic recipe.
Adding a salty brine and pickling spices to our fermented garlic recipe.

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.
Raw garlic waiting for the fermentation process to begin.
Raw garlic waiting for the fermentation process to begin.

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.
A jar of fermented garlic ready to enjoy after a month long fermentation.
A jar of fermented garlic ready to enjoy after a month long fermentation.

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

Raw garlic waiting for the fermentation process to begin.
Print Recipe
4 from 5 votes

Fermented Garlic

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.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Fermented Garlic
Servings: 1 jar
Calories: 447kcal

Ingredients

  • 10 heads garlic
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons salt

Instructions

  • 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! 

Nutrition

Serving: 1jar | Calories: 447kcal | Carbohydrates: 99.2g | Protein: 19.1g | Fat: 1.5g | Saturated Fat: 0.3g | Sodium: 14032mg | Potassium: 1215mg | Fiber: 6.3g | Sugar: 3g | Calcium: 450mg | Iron: 5.2mg

New to fermenting? Check out these great books and products to get you started!

Fermentation Revolution by Sebastien Bureau & David Cote: Covers everything you need to know about fermentation to start a lacto-fermentation revolution in your pantry!

The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz: The most comprehensive guide to do-it-yourself home fermentation ever published.

The Noma Guide to Fermentation by Rene Redzepi & David Zilber: At Noma in Copenhagen, named the world’s best restaurant, fermentation is one of the foundations behind their extraordinary menu. Read their never-before-revealed techniques to creating Noma’s extensive pantry of ferments!

Fermented Vegetables by Kirsten & Christopher Shockey: This easy-to-follow guide presents more than 120 recipes for fermenting 64 different vegetables and herbs.

If you’re ready to start fermenting and are looking to ferment beer or wine purchase this great home brewing kit!

This Easy Fermenter Kit was created to help make fermenting simple. It comes with 3 Wide Mouth Mason Jar Lids & 1 Oxygen Extraction Vacuum.

This 5L Glass Fermentation Crock + 45 recipe book set lets you make delicious, fermented favourites in an affordable design at home.

We also love this Simply Sauer Vegetable Fermentation Kit which comes with 1 oxygen pump and 4 air airlock lids. If you are planning to ferment multiple items at once, they also make this great Mason Jar Fermentation Airlock Lid Kit.

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