Amber Shehan is the head pixie at Pixiespocket.com, a site dedicated to foraging, brewing, and herbalism. Anything that enters her home may well be pickled, canned, dried, fermented, or otherwise experimented upon in the quest for delicious things.
Garlic is one of the most common spices used around the world, considered a staple of the diet in many places, and it is also known as a potent herbal medicine, too. Garlic is a food that is mineral-rich. It is a good source of antioxidants, vitamin B-6, vitamin C, manganese, and selenium. It has well-documented antibacterial and antiviral properties and also helps to boost the immune system.
With all of those benefits on the books, would you believe that garlic can get even more healthy?
You can acquire garlic in many forms—fresh, dried, infused into oil, minced—but none of these quite have the same effect on the palate and the body as lacto-fermented garlic cloves. Fermenting garlic makes all of those minerals even more accessible to the body during digestion, and it also adds phenomenal probiotics to your diet.
Fermenting garlic might seem like alchemy, but honestly, it is quite easy! The following instructions will work for any size jar that you have on hand.
- Fresh garlic cloves, a few heads
- Filtered water
- Kosher or other non-iodized salt
- Peel as many cloves as it takes to fill the jar you are working with.
- Create a salt brine by dissolving the salt in the water. Use ½ teaspoon of sea salt for each cup of non-chlorinated water.
- Add the brine to the jar to cover the cloves.
- Put the lid on the jar loosely and set it on your kitchen counter. Alternatively, use one of these methods to keep the garlic submerged.
- Open the jar once a day to release the pressure created by fermentation. When you do this, your kitchen will smell very strongly of garlic, especially once the fermentation really gets going!
- It might take a few days to a week for fermentation to begin. You can tell when you see tiny bubbles in the brine. After a bit, the brine will take on a lovely golden-brown color.
- Let the garlic continue to ferment for at least a month for best results, but some of the best, most mellowed flavors that I’ve gotten have been cloves that had fermented for at least two months.
- When you decide that it is done, screw the lid on firmly and put it in the fridge to store.
What to Do with Fermented Garlic?
- You can use it anywhere you would use fresh garlic. After being fermented, one clove almost works as well as two!
- When you are out of the garlic cloves, save the brine. Garlic brine is amazing! Add a drop or two to savory cocktails like Bloody Marys, sprinkle in dressings or marinades, or blend with melted butter for a quick and easy garlic butter.