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FERMENTED HONEY GARLIC

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by Jody Gowans in Fermentation, Recipes
February 12, 2018

When I cook, I love to play with contrasting flavours.  Sometimes the most unlikely pairing results in something truly tasty . Honey + garlic is one of those surprising combinations, and has been used endlessly to add incredible flavour to meat dishes, marinades and dressings.  For a more intense and robust flavour, I make fermented honey garlic.  I always have a jar in my pantry as a cooking staple, and to drizzle on dishes at the last minute for a punch of extra flavour. 

FERMENTING WITH HONEY

Fermented honey garlic after 4 days

It might sound counterintuitive to use honey as a fermentation medium due to its antimicrobial properties.  Honey’s low pH (acidity) and extremely low water content help to kill off any invading microbes.   However, by simply increasing the water content obtained by the juices released by the garlic, honey’s smothering antibacterial defence is weakened.  Beneficial bacteria are allowed entry and the wild yeasts that were dormant in raw honey are stimulated.  These yeasts kickstart the fermentation process by consuming the glucose and fructose found in the honey (and fructose from garlic), producing alcohol, carbon dioxide and acetic acid.  These fermentation byproducts, along with keeping the ferment in an anaerobic (no oxygen) environment, preserve the food and create amazing flavour.

HOW TO USE FERMENTED HONEY GARLIC 

Studies have shown that both garlic and honey can be beneficial to preventing sickness.  Ongoing research has linked garlic as preventative to heart disease, lowering cholesterol and helping to prevent the common cold. 

Organic garlic

Honey has been used for its antibacterial properties for centuries as an healing aid for wounds and as a soother for sore throats!  There are many who swear by consuming fermented honey garlic cloves daily to ward off any cold or flu bugs.

Not only is this a super healthy duo, fermented honey garlic honey is also delicious!  It makes an excellent glaze on meat, fish and grilled tofu.  I like to add it to vinaigrettes and brush it on pizza crust just before the pizza is ready to be taken out of the oven.

HOW TO MAKE FERMENTED HONEY GARLIC 

Raw, unpasteurized honey and organic garlic

Fermentation Time: 1-12 months*

*Fermented honey garlic can be ready in a month, but is best left for longer as it improves with age. If you are concerned about botulism, which is a very rare occurrence in a honey ferment, test with a pH strip or monitor.  A reading under 4.6 is considered safe since the botulism spores cannot survive in an acidic and anaerobic environment.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup peeled organic garlic cloves**
  • 1 cup raw, unpasteurized honey
  • Glass jar with lid

**  the ratio is approximately 1 cup of cloves to 1 cup of honey

DIRECTIONS

  1. Slightly crush peeled garlic cloves.  Add to jar.
  2. Cover garlic cloves completely with honey, leaving a ½” space from the top of the jar.

    Cover garlic with honey

  3. Close jar and place on a plate (to catch any overflow) at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
  4. The garlic cloves will naturally float for a period of time (for at least a month) Shake or invert the jar daily to keep the garlic covered in honey.
  5. The honey might start to foam during the fermentation process and will become more watery.  The garlic cloves will darken in colour.

    2-month-old fermented honey garlic

  6. Store at room temperature in a sealed container.
42 Comments
  1. Liz says:

    My honey garlic ferment is 1 1/2 months old. The pH reading stays at 4.9. Is this safe enough, or how can I lower the pH level?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Liz- I would definitely let the ferment go for longer, for at least another month. This will allow the garlic to more become more infused with the honey, and vice versa. Retest the pH at that time. 6 months would be great for optimal flavour 12 months is better (if you can wait that long!)

  2. Mekhala De Silva says:

    Hi,
    Does it fine to transfer the infused and fermented garlic cloves for a fresh honey jar after the fermentation stops? since the moisture in the garlic cloves comes out to the honey after the fermentation, the honey becomes more watery. So is it OK to transfer the garlic cloves to New honey jar? Or this new honey would allow clostredium botulinum to grow?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Mekhala- You can leave the honey in the jar you used for the ferment. However if you want to put the finished fermented honey in another jar, it is always advisable to transfer the finished honey ferment to a clean jar to avoid any contamination.

  3. Victor Dey says:

    Hi, I used commercially available honey to ferment, but it seemed like good quality. I set it this morning, and towards the evening I saw a few bubbles around the garlic. Does it mean I should let it be and check around tomorrow, while burping? How soon should I expect results?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Victor- thanks for your interest and question. You can absolutely use commercial honey as long as it is unpasteurized. It is unlikely that the ferment started that quickly, but not impossible. Keep on fermenting and make sure to either invert or shake the jar daily to ensure the garlic remains coated in the honey. You will likely not have to burp it for a few days as honey is a slow ferment. If you are using a fido or kilner jar, they are self-burping. If you are using a mason jar and notice that the lid is starting to puff out, just loosen the lid to release the built up CO2, do not remove the lid or you will introduce oxygen into the ferment.

  4. Coronation Kenealy says:

    From what I just read, it is ok to have super foamy and have it run over. I took the weight out. Should I be turning the jar everyday to coat carlike then there is over 2 I chest of foamy bubbles and its thick

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi, yes a foamy honey garlic ferment is a good indication that the microbes are active and busy. You can leave the weight in, or use the shake method (shake the jar or invert it once a day). If is is super foamy and overflowing, you can slightly unscrew the lid to express built up gases. The goal is to ensure the garlic cloves remain coated in the honey. They will eventually release their liquid into the honey and subsequently absorb the honey. When this happens, they will independently remain below the surface of the honey and will not require any additional weight or shaking to keep them submerged.

  5. Alice says:

    Hi Jody,

    I’ve just made my first honey fermented garlic and have used an ordinary glass jar. I’m just wondering how often I should burp the jar? Thanks for your help.

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Alice- no problem using a regular, glass jar. As for burping, it is good to check the jar daily during the first 2 weeks of the ferment. Just loosen the lid to release built-up CO2 and re-tighten. It’s hard to give an exact amount as to how often to burp the jar as every ferment is unique (based on room temperature, the food being fermented, etc). Make sure to shake the jar or invert it daily to ensure the garlic is coated in the honey. Once the garlic sinks below the surface of the honey, there is no need to agitate the jar. If you can, try and wait (at least for some of the batch) for a year- it is divine!!

  6. john says:

    Hi Jody- Could you tell me how long the garlic takes to sink?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi John- thanks for your interest and question. I can’t give an exact answer as it depends on the condition and quality of the garlic you use. The fresher, the better as it will contain more liquid. Crushing the cloves helps to release the liquid into the honey and subsequently allow the cloves to eventually absorb the honey. This could take between 1-2 months. Remember to either agitate or flip the bottle daily until the cloves sink below the honeyline to ensure the cloves remain coated in the honey

  7. Mepragoo says:

    I made a jar of honey and crushed garlic to ferment two days ago…and on reading up on the topic further- I learnt about botulism. But after doing further research on it, I found out that even though both honey and garlic usually contain the bacteria spores….the danger only exists when the spores become active and release toxins…which it can only do under specific conditions. 1) low oxygen 2) ambient temperatures 3) ph above 4.6, 4) low salt 5) protein source 6) low sugar environment. Honey ferments are definitely high sugar environments and after fermentation begins, it eventually becomes a highly acid (low ph) environment, so no need to worry about botulism….even though the bacteria is most likely present, it cannot release toxins in such a high sugar AND high acid (after fermentation) environment. Pheww….

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Mepragoo- Wow, thanks so much for your research, this will really be helpful to people who are nervous about doing honey ferments. Good luck with your ferment, and try to be patient- it is so delicious when left for year!

  8. RB says:

    I have had honey/garlic in a pantry for about 5 months. However, I never noticed any bubbles……should I toss and begin again?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi RB- thanks for your question. Did the garlic remain submerged/coated in the honey? Is the garlic no longer floating to the surface and has turned brown? You can try measuring the pH and if it is below 4.6 you should be ok. There would have been bubbles/foaming in the first few weeks of the ferment. If you are doubtful, it would be best to toss it. Not sure what ingredients you used, but unpasteurized honey and fresh garlic are key to a successful honey ferment (if the garlic is old, it will not release enough liquid to neutralize the “smothering” effect of the honey

  9. Linnie says:

    10 days and some of my honey has green mold on it. I burped it during the day as instructed, I used Raw honey and cloves of garlic as instructed and covered all cloves with the honey flipped it to keep all cloves covered. What happened what did I do wrong??

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Linnie- sorry to hear mold grew in your honey ferment. There are a few factors that could have caused the mold growth:
      1. when you burped the container, too much oxygen was let in- this is why I like using balewire (fido) jars which are self burping
      2. The garlic was too dry (did not release enough liquid to neutralize the antibacterial effect of the honey )
      3. The garlic was not coated or submerged adequately in the honey

      I have never had mold grow on any of my honey ferments (cranberry or garlic)- maybe try again making a small batch and use the aforementioned tips

      Good luck!

  10. Henry says:

    I live in south Sudan where we have no organic foods/vegetables. all foods are imported from the neighboring countries and they are not grown organically. all articles I read recommended organic products for fermentation. what is you advice on fermenting foods that are not grown organically because am interested to give a trial especially sauerkraut.

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Henry- yes, organic is always better, but to be honest I have fermented with non-organic vegetables and have had excellent results. In fact, I use mostly non-organic cabbage that is locally produced when I make my sauerkraut and it comes out great every time. You should go ahead and use what is available to you, but start with small quantities so that you don’t waste the food if your ferment doesn’t work (which is unlikely!!) Good luck and happy fermenting!

  11. Susan says:

    A question about storage during the ferment process. I’ve got 3 pint jars of garlic and honey fermenting for the first time. I’m using the silicone waterless fermentation lids, and they have been releasing gasses as I was aware they would. However this has been an annoyance to my husband who doesn’t want the odors in the house. I’ve resorted to putting the jars in a plastic crate with a snap-on cover and keeping it in the garage. I also placed a small baking soda air freshener disk in the crate to hopefully help with the odors. Im wondering if this setup is okay. The other question would be the garage since the jars would be experiencing different temperatures over the months to come. I live in California. It’s pretty cold right now but warmer weather will come later. Will the temperature changes in my garage affect the success of the ferment?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Susan- thanks for your interest and question. Yes, California is a little chilly right now- I was just in Anaheim for the Natural Products Expo West! You can absolutely leave the honey ferments in your garage. The lower temperature will slow down fermentation, but won’t kill the beneficial microbes. The baking soda will also not affect fermentation (hopefully it is just baking soda in the disk). Don’t forget to agitate the jars daily to keep the garlic cloves coated in the honey until they eventually submerge on their own. Also keep in mind that honey ferments take a long time (best after one year).

  12. Steve anderson says:

    Can I use dried garlic

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Steve- thanks for your interest and question. No, dried garlic is not advised for this ferment. In fact, the best garlic to use is the freshest garlic you can find. It is the release of the liquid in the garlic that kickstarts the fermentation process. As the honey gets watered down with the garlic liquid, its antimicrobial defenses are weakened, thereby allowing the beneficial microbes in the garlic and honey to thrive.

  13. Lora says:

    Can I use the leftover honey from the last batch of fermented garlic/honey in the next batch? I would still need to add more honey.

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Lora- thanks for your question. There are conflicting views on “backslopping” (using liquid from a previous ferment to start a new ferment). Some report success, however, remember that the most successful ferment happens in stages. Different strains of microbes manipulate the ferment’s environment for the next species of microbes to take over. For example, the first stage of microbes (depending on the ferment) might be aerobic, thereby consuming all the oxygen in the sealed fermentation container. This strain dies off and the subsequent strains which are anaerobic will thrive, create acidity, resulting in an environment inhospitable to pathogens. In short, I would recommend to start with new honey for the most successful and safe ferment.

  14. Uma says:

    How do I make kefir grains and kombucha from scratch? I dwell in a place where the mother kombucha and kefir grains are no where to be found and people arw hardly aware of it. Please help.

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Uma- thanks for your question. It is not possible to make milk kefir grains from scratch, however you can purchase them online. I’m not sure where you are located, but I know that there are sellers on Etsy. If you let me know what city you live in, I might be able to recommend some producers. Alternatively, the website, http://www.culturesforhealth sells dehydrated cultures such as milk kefir, water kefir and kombucha. Dehydrated cultures are difficult to reanimate, but it’s worth trying if you can’t find fresh cultures. You can make your own kombucha culture from a bottle of unpasteurized commercial kombucha. I made my own using GT Kombucha (I used the plain one, but you can try other flavours if plain is not available). Unpasteurized kombucha will generally have a SCOBY in the bottle. I added the entire contents to a batch of sweetened tea, followed the recipe to make kombucha (see my the article on my site) and over time, I was able to grow a SCOBY.

  15. Maria says:

    Are we supposed to cover it during this process? What is an airlock or Fido jar? I have mine in a regular glass jar with a screw on lid. I literally just poured the honey over the garlic.

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Maria, thanks for your question. Yes, you can use a regular glass jar with a screw on lid. Just make sure to agitate the jar daily to ensure the garlic cloves are coated in the honey. Over time, the honey will saturate the garlic, and it will naturally sink below the surface. The drawback of using standard jars, is that you need to burp it to release built-up Co2. Fido jars are designed to allow the contents to escape (gasses and/or liquid)- they are self-burping. If you Google Fido jars, you can see the example of this jar. As for airlocks, this article explains a few easy airlock systems that can be used to eliminate built-up CO2 https://theculturedfoodie.com/burping-ferments/

  16. Sheila says:

    How do know when it’s ready?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      HI Sheila- thanks for your interest and question. The honey garlic should be ready in about a month, but it also depends on the freshness of the garlic. I recently fermented locally grown garlic and the ferment was very active (the garlic was very fresh and had a high water content). The longer you leave the honey garlic to ferment, the better the flavours will be. Try and be patient and leave it to ferment for a year- if you can’t wait that long, make a few batches and sample them after different periods of time to compare flavours.

  17. David says:

    I fermented mine for a week in the sunlight, at a pretty high temperature, 85-90 degrees, is it still okay to consume? I hadn’t read the keep in a cool dark place part.

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi David- Thanks for your question. While it is always better to keep most ferments out of direct sunlight (unless you are making Indian achar pickles), the ferment should be fine- did you see any foaming or bubbles (an visible indication of fermentation)? Fermented honey garlic is at its best the longer you leave it. Just keep an eye on it for any mold growth and make sure to agitate it daily until the garlic has sunk below the surface of the honey.

  18. Kathy says:

    I wonder if it would be more beneficial to use Manuka honey in this for medicinal purposes or will any raw honey work just as well? Thanks. I am really anxious to try this. I love honey and I love garlic.

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Kathy-absolutely! Manuka honey is amazing! I have been reading up on it lately and would love to use it not just as food, but topically as well. Any honey that is unpasteurized is great for the honey-garlic ferment. Garlic is in season right now, so it’s best to use the locally-grown garlic for awesome results!

  19. nestor p. polo says:

    How many cloves of fermented garlic should be consumed in a day?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Nestor- I don’t think there is a limit to how many fermented garlic cloves can be consumed per day. Many people swear by eating fermented garlic to ward off cold and flu viruses and increase consumption during the winter. I suppose it would be personal preference. I would personally eat 1 per day so as not to go through my stash too quickly (fermented honey garlic is at its best the longer it ages).

  20. Joanna says:

    My fermenting garlic is super foamy looking. Is that ok

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Joanna- yes foam/bubbles are fine, it’s a good indication that fermentation is underway. Since your ferment is super active, make sure to put a plate under your jar to avoid spill over. Also burp it if you are not using an airlock or a fido jar. What kind of garlic did you use? Was it local, organic, etc?

  21. art says:

    why does my 28 day fermented garlic and honey rasre so awfull.

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Art- Thanks for your question. It is still early in the ferment, the garlic and honey will improve over time, however some love the taste after a month. Not sure what you mean by “awful” taste. Is it bitter, rancid, too strong, etc ?

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