Honey fermented garlic can be used to combat cold and flu in the winter season or simply as a condiment to add a honey garlic flavour to any dish.
Honey fermented garlic? Yes, you heard it right!
This recipe is long over due. I first learned about the method to ferment garlic and honey together from the WFU Facebook group. I was immediately intrigued. At that time I didn’t have this blog yet, but I knew that more people should be making this honey fermented garlic. Now I have a blog, I can’t wait to share the recipe with you.
What Does Fermented Honey Garlic Taste Like?
Most fermenters call it “fermented honey garlic”, but I think “honey fermented garlic” is more technically precise. It’s just my personal preference for naming. Essentially “fermented honey garlic” and “honey fermented garlic” are the same thing.
Some call it “honey infused garlic” or “garlic infused honey”, because this recipe works much like an infusion in addition to fermentation. I think these names give you a good idea of what the final product may taste like. Both the flavours of honey and garlic will have infused into each other, and you will end up with a garlicky honey and sweet mellowed garlics.
Why Should You Make Honey Fermented Garlic?
Reasons to Ferment Garlic and Honey
If you fall into one of the following situations, you may want to try fermenting honey and garlic.
- New to fermentation and want to start with something super easy. Honey fermented garlic is one of the easiest fermentation recipes, thus one of the firsts you should try.
- You appreciate the medicinal properties of honey and garlic and want to combine their anti-bacterial, anti-viral and immune boosting properties together. Honey fermented garlic is a perfect preventative remedy for the cold and flu season.
- If you grow and harvest a lot of garlics at once and want a way to naturally preserve your garlics for long term storage without refrigeration.
- You want to eat more raw garlics for the health benefits but can’t tolerate the pungent taste. After a period of fermentation and infusion, the garlics will be mellowed and sweetened significantly for direct consumption.
- You love honey garlic flavoured foods and want to have a naturally preserved honey garlic condiment on hand to add to your dishes.
Honey Fermented Garlic as a Cold and Flu Remedy
I should add that most people I know who make honey fermented garlic do so to use it as a cold and flu remedy. It works for them based on anecdotal evidence. We all know how honey and garlic are powerful antimicrobials against infections in the mouth and throat. Honey is also a natural cough suppressant. Although I would use honey and garlic fermented or not, it is definitely a lot more palatable to eat a larger amount of honey fermented garlic. Especially at times you want to pump up your garlic consumption, for example, at the first sign of a flu. Due to the sweet taste, this is also a great remedy you can give to children.
Related: More Preventative Remedies for the Flu Season
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Fermentation Tips and Trouble-Shooting
This recipe seems very easy from the ingredient list, but getting it done right requires some understanding of how fermentation works. If anything, this section is the most important of the post, explaining the key points of this fermentation.
How Much Honey Should I Use?
You want just enough honey to cover the garlic, not too much. The garlic will release moisture into the honey to set stage for fermentation to start. If you use too much honey, the mixture may not reach the moisture content necessary (18-20%) for the fermentation process to begin. In that case, you may add a couple spoons of water into the mixture when you see no signs of fermentation (bubbles) in a few days.
Keeping Garlic Under Liquid
Like other vegetables you ferment, you should keep the garlic under the liquid to prevent mold growth. Since garlic naturally floats on top of the honey, you can stir with a spoon or chopsticks daily or flip the jar upside down a few times a day (as shown in photo above). This is to ensure that all garlic cloves are coated in honey. You should continue this until the garlic no longer floats.
Bubbling During Active Fermentation Phase
Once the fermentation begins in a few days, it will produce bubbles varying from a little to a lot. Sometimes, the bubbling can be so active that it overflows the jar. Therefore, leaving plenty of head space in the jar when fermenting honey and garlic is crucial in saving yourself from ending up a sticky mess. It’s also crucial to open the lid of the jar daily to “burp” the jar by releasing the carbon dioxide. The bubbling will subside over the weeks. Eventually you will not see bubbles produced nor will you need to release carbon dioxide from the jar.
Change of Appearance and Consistency
As you can see from the photos below, honey fermented garlic changes colour over time. On the left is freshly combined honey and garlic – the garlic cloves float on top of the honey for the first many weeks. On the right is a jar of my honey fermented garlic aged for 1+ year. Over time, the garlic cloves will gradually sink to the bottom of the jar, and the colour of honey will gradually darken. What you can’t see from the photos is the change of the thickness of the honey. The honey will thin out over time as the garlic releases moisture.
Should Botulism be a Concern in Honey Fermented Garlic?
What I learned is that in order for botulism to occur, it has to meet a list of right conditions. One of these conditions is the PH level. The average PH level of honey is too acidic for botulism spore to produce. Therefore, the concern for botulism is close to none in acidic environment and fermented foods. The actual risk for botulism is much higher in canned or packaged pre-made food items, or non-acidic foods preserved in oil before they had a chance to ferment to reach the <4.6 PH level.
Personally I am comfortably not worrying about botulism in honey fermented garlic. However, I am someone who would not use oil topper for vegetable ferments due to the risk of non-acidic foods trapped in the oil layer that may lead to botulism. If you are still concerned about honey fermented garlic, I know some add a splash of apple cider vinegar to keep the PH level low. I encourage you to do your own research and decide on your comfort level.
Everything I learned about this topic comes from reading in the WFU Facebook group. I simply summarized what I have learned there with my personal understanding.
Related: More Fermentation Recipes to Try
- Fermented Pickles /w Green Tea and Dill Flowers
- Pineapple-Turmeric-Ginger Probiotic Sauerkraut
- Homemade Fermented Sauerkraut /w Caraway Seeds
- Wild Fermented Salsa
- 11 Important Things To Know for a Successful Kombucha Brew
- Kefir Fermented Honey Thyme Sourdough Cornbread
- Injera (Fermented Ethiopian Teff Flatbread)
- Overnight Banana Spelt Pancakes: Fermented for Better Nutrition and Digestion
- Raspberry Kefir Cream Cheese Spread
Honey Fermented Garlic
- 1 cup garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 to 1 1/2 cup liquid raw honey (see recipe notes below)
- water (optional)
- Combine garlic cloves and just enough liquid raw honey to cover the garlic in a glass jar. The glass jar should be large enough to roughly double the capacity of your ingredients to leave room for expansion. Close the jar with a lid.
- Stir the mixture or flip the closed jar upside down daily to ensure all garlic cloves are coated with honey.
- Within a few days, air bubbles should be forming. This is a sign of active fermentation. Open the jar daily to release excess carbon dioxide. If fermentation doesn't begin, then add a spoon or 2 of water into the mixture. Repeat step 2.
- Continue the process until fermentation slows down, the honey thins out, the bubbling stops, and the garlic cloves sink to the bottom of the jar. It may take over a month. At this point, you can store the honey fermented garlic in a sealed jar, unrefrigerated, to let it age.
- For best taste, the honey fermented garlic can be consumed after 3 months. The finished products can be stored in a dark place in room temperature for years.
- If you prefer more honey than garlic in your finished product, you may use more honey than indicated in the recipe as you wish. Just note that you will more likely to need to add some water in order to start the process of fermentation.
- I highly recommend using a glass jar with plastic lid to avoid honey being in contact with metal.