The Healthiest Lacto Fermented Garlic Recipe

by Kaitlynn Fenley

Fermenting garlic is easy with the healthiest lacto fermented garlic recipe. You only need five ingredients and 4 weeks of fermentation to get all the benefits of fermented garlic. Use this fermented garlic in any recipe that calls for garlic.

Is it Safe to Ferment Garlic?

The fermentation method used in this recipe is perfectly safe! If you follow all of the recipe amounts and directions, your fermented garlic will be perfectly safe and healthy to eat. Before publishing the recipe here, I check the pH and microbial composition for all of our fermentation recipe development experiments. The final pH of fermented garlic should always be below 4.5

How Do You Ferment Garlic?

My favorite way to ferment garlic is to roast it first, then ferment with fresh cabbage leaves, apple cider vinegar, water, and a 2.5% total salt concentration. Since the garlic is roasted before fermenting, we must include another source of wild microorganisms to facilitate the fermentation process. That’s where cabbage leaves come in.

The addition of acid to this recipe is important. Here, I used apple cider vinegar, but you can also use rice vinegar or white vinegar. Another option is to use already fermented sauerkraut brine. Adding acid, in the beginning, is essential to stabilize the pH. When fermenting a large amount of garlic, the garlic can have antibacterial effects against the bacteria that produce lactic acid and this inhibits a drop to the necessary pH for preservation. Garlic is also high in fructans and can favor a alcohol fermentation pathway, over a lactic acid fermentation pathway.

roasted garlic that has been lacto fermented in a mason jar to get the full benefits of fermented garlic.

The Benefits of Fermented Garlic

Fermented garlic is great for you! As with any other ferment, you can eat too much, so don’t overdo it.

In the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, Rome, Babylon, and China, garlic was a treatment for heart disease, joint pain, kidney stones, respiratory problems, rashes, diarrhea, constipation, headache, parasites, minor wounds, ulcers, and tumors. People have used garlic as a food and as a medicine since around 3000 B.C.

The beneficial compounds in garlic have effects on the human body. The potential benefits include reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer, along with better immune function. Allicin (diallyl-thiosulfinate), the most bioactive compound found in garlic, is known for its antimicrobial (mainly antifungal) activity.

In our course at The Cultured Guru School of Fermentation I teach students that including fresh garlic in vegetable fermentation recipes is a great way to prevent yeast and fungal growth in ferments.

a close up of whole cloves of lacto fermented garlic.

Does roasting the garlic destroy all the beneficial allicin?

No, roasting the garlic will not destroy all the beneficial compounds in garlic. First, allicin only forms in garlic when the clove is crushed, chopped, or damaged… Because two compounds (alliinase and alliin) in the garlic have to be released from the cell walls and combine to form allicin. Heating garlic immediately after crushing or slicing will destroy the heat-sensitive enzyme alliinase, and allicin cannot form without this enzyme. 

When you chop or mash garlic or crush it to peel as in this recipe, keep it away from heat for 10 minutes. If you wait a few minutes before heating, the maximum amount of allicin can form, and a beneficial amount is still present even after the garlic is cooked.

Is it Safe to Make Fermented Garlic in Honey?

I do not think it is inherently safe. It all depends on the ingredients used! So it can be safe, but sometimes it isn’t.

A study came out that said consuming garlic and honey together can have synergistic health benefits. But I’m not sure who first decided to “ferment” the two together. I can’t seem to find any historical or cultural information on fermenting garlic in honey or any published research on fermenting garlic in honey. It’s not written about in any fermentation textbooks, either. I’ve even looked for recipes and honey garlic stories from Asian food bloggers since most time-tested fermentation recipes come from Asia… and I haven’t found anything. There is something called oxymel that’s been around since the ancient greeks, but that is not made with only garlic and honey. It contains half honey and half vinegar.

Honey Fermented Garlic

Garlic is a low acid plant food, and honey varies from low to high acidity (between 3.5 and 5.5 depending on the botanical source of the honey). Honey has low water activity due to its high sugar content, and low water activity generally makes things safer… However, when you combine garlic and honey, the final water activity is variable. Garlic can also increase the pH as it ferments. So safety depends on the ratio of garlic to honey, what kind of honey is used, and other fermentation factors.

Contrary to popular belief, the combination of only garlic and honey leads only to yeast fermentation, as conditions are not right for lacto-fermentation and safe pH development via lactic acid production. This is especially true since large amounts of garlic can have antimicrobial effects against lactic acid bacteria. For honey garlic fermentation to be safe, a starter culture should be added. I always recommend adding raw apple cider vinegar or kombucha primary fermentation to honey-based ferments. This guarantees yeast and acetic acid bacteria mixed fermentation, similar to vinegar fermentation.

Fermented Garlic being spooned out of a jar.

How to Know When Garlic is Done Fermenting

The best and safest way to tell if your fermented garlic is done is to test the pH with pH strips. Just dip a strip into the fermentation liquid and make sure it is at a pH of 4.5 or below. Every time I’ve made fermented garlic this way the pH ends up right around 4. However, it does take quite some time for the pH of fermented garlic to drop. Sometimes the pH stalls around 5, due to the nature of garlic. That is why it’s very important to use a safe, exact salt concentration in this recipe, and to add an acid (ACV) at the start of fermentation.

Equipment You Need to make Lacto Fermented Garlic

Here’s all the supplies and equipment you will need to make this recipe:

Fermented Garlic Recipe Conditions

  • 4 weeks of fermentation
  • Room temperature (60-78° F)
  • Approximate 2.5% total salt concentration
  • Final pH below 4
  • Store in refrigerator after fermentation for up to 2 years.

More Fermentation Recipes to Try

Print

The Healthiest Lacto Fermented Garlic Recipe

Fermenting garlic is easy with the healthiest lacto fermented garlic recipe. You only need five ingredients and 4 weeks of fermentation to get all the benefits of fermented garlic. Use this fermented garlic in any recipe that calls for garlic.

  • Author: Kaitlynn Fenley
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Fermentation Time: 4 weeks
  • Total Time: 672 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 30 servings 1x
  • Category: Fermented Vegetables
  • Method: Fermentation
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale
  • 400 grams garlic, peeled
  • 50 grams fresh cabbage leaves
  • 400 grams water
  • 100 grams apple cider vinegar
  • 24 grams sea salt

Instructions

  1. Lightly crush each garlic clove with the flat side of a chopping knife to make it easier to peel. Peel each clove and set it aside. Let the garlic cloves rest for 10 minutes (this will ensure allicin benefits and flavor even after cooking).  
  2. Preheat your oven to 450° F. Add the peeled garlic to a parchment paper-lined pan. *DO NOT USE ANY OIL*
  3. Dry Roast the garlic in the oven for 10 minutes, gently toss the garlic with a spatula, then roast for another 10 minutes.
  4. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
  5. Immediately remove the garlic from the oven and scoop it all into the ice water bath. The cloves should still be firm, but lightly toasted on the outside. Some cloves might be softer than others, that’s fine.
  6. Dissolve 24 grams of sea salt in the water to create a brine.
  7. In a clean mason jar add the 50 grams of fresh cabbage leaves.
  8. Drain the garlic from the ice water bath. Add the 400 grams of garlic into the jar with the cabbage leaves.
  9. Add all of the saltwater brine to the jar.
  10. Place a fermentation weight in the jar to keep all of the garlic submerged. Place the mason jar lid on the jar and secure it in place.
  11. IMPORTANT: After 48 hours, you will notice bubbles and carbonation in the jar. As soon as you see bubbles, remove the lid and the weight and add 100 grams of apple cider vinegar. (even if you have to pour off a little bit of brine, add at least 100 grams vinegar). Place the lid on the jar and invert gently to mix. Replace the weight and the lid. 
  12. Ferment for 4 weeks at room temperature. Set the jar in a glass dish to prevent messes. For the first few days, loosen the lid every 24 hours to burp the jar and let the gas out. 
  13. After 4 weeks of fermentation, remove the fermentation weight and check to make sure the pH is right around 4 (it should always be below 4.5).
  14. Then move to refrigerated storage.

Notes

  • The salt concentration in this recipe is extremely important since the pH of fermented garlic can take quite a while to decrease; do not use less than the listed amount of salt. 
  • This recipe is sized to fit a 1-quart mason jar.
  • Do not skip step 11!! Adding apple cider vinegar adjusts the pH to safe levels and is an essential ingredient. You can sub with rice vinegar or white vinegar.

Keywords: garlic, fermentation, fermented garlic


References

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17 comments

Kathi November 3, 2021 - 1:11 pm

I am just starting my fermentation journey, I love your information! If I cook with fermented items, will they loose their health benefits?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley November 4, 2021 - 8:10 am

If you cook with fermented foods, the beneficial bacteria will die, but the other health benefits remain. I love cooking with ferments, the flavor is beautiful.

Reply
Lisa March 8, 2022 - 9:54 am

I read and reread, but I didn’t see why not to use raw garlic? I buy my garlic as prepeeled whole cloves from my local Asian market, and I just add olive oil to cover and it lasts for weeks. I assumed oil (makes it mushy a little bit) would keep it safe by avoiding contact with oxygen. A layer of fat on my chicken broth makes it not go bad for a couple days if I don’t get it reduced and frozen immediately. Anyway, sorry rambled, but will this work on raw garlic cloves?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley March 8, 2022 - 10:08 am

You can use raw garlic and keep everything else in this recipe the same. If you use raw garlic it will probably turn blue during fermentation.

Yes, the fat layer on bone broths helps them stay good in the fridge longer, but that has nothing to do with fermentation. You do not ferment broth. The broth is cooked at a high temperature for long periods of time, then cold-stored, with the goal of inhibiting any microbes from growing at all.

In fermentation, you are trying to encourage the growth of certain microorganisms. You should never use oil in wild fermentation, it will mess up the fermentation process and encourage the growth of opportunistic pathogens instead of healthy microbes.

Reply
Nas July 9, 2022 - 2:52 pm

Hi Kaitlynn,

I successfully lacto-fermented several jars of raw garlic, and used them to cook over one year.
So I decided to ferment additional batches because I loved it.
For some reason, I keep failing at fermenting the new batches.
The fermentation goes well for about two weeks of carbonation, with a strong (good) garlicky smell, turn blue-green.
No yeast, no mold, everything is fine, clear beige brine, until suddenly no bubbles and two days after that the smell changes, the brine also changes to a more brownish color At that time ph is over 5,5.
I naturally came across the idea to add an acid at the beginning of the process, because I though that maybe the garlic did not have enough sugar in it and maybe induced a premature stop of the fermentation. So I thought the acid would at least guarantee an acidic environment during fermentation.
I chose lemon because I know lemon can be fermented and has a good amount of sugar.
I made sure to filter and add fresh lemon juice to the brine to drop the ph to 3.5
The fermentation started well, but at a much slower pace that usual after two week there are still small bubbles.
But as I am monitoring the ph, I observe some jars have a ph increase to a level above 5. The ph increased front 3.5 to 5.
By reading your article, I realize my intuition was not so bad, and that the increase of ph level would probably be caused by the fermentation of the garlic itself.
I also realize that waiting for the first bubbles before adding the acid would help not inhibiting the lactic bacteria growth in the first days.

Unfortunately, I feel like I still have to throw away the jars in which ph has passed 5, as their smell began to change.
And I hate to waste such good garlic.

So I really would appreciated your opinion on this.
Is the use of lemon correct?
Also, could you to explain what is the advantage of using apple cider vinegar. I though vinegar was acetic acid does that make any difference, or interfere with lactic bacteria growth?
Finally, what is the role of roasting the garlic?

Thank you!

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley July 11, 2022 - 10:19 am

I’m not comfortable advising people on recipes that are not my own, so the garlic you made before is a use at your own risk situation. I personally wouldn’t use it if the pH is above 5.

I’ve never tried lemon juice, I find the synergistic effects of acetic acid and lactic acid works best with garlic. Lactic acid bacteria survive fine in the presence of acetic acid.

I like to roast my garlic because I find it tastes better, and it destroys the compounds that produce the blue color, so it stays an appetizing color in the presence of acid.

Reply
Nas July 11, 2022 - 10:29 am

Thank you

Reply
rachelle July 31, 2022 - 4:38 pm

my garlic didnt bubble in 48 hours I followed everything to a T! and use fresh homegrown garlic. I did not add the vinegar at 48 hours because there were no bubbles… I am onto day 5 and yesterday I put it all into the fridge…. I don’t know what to do at this point. there is no activity. should I add the vinegar and let it sit outside the fridge? please let me know what ud do if no bubbling occurs.

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley August 1, 2022 - 9:35 am

You even included fresh raw cabbage leaves and weighed all your ingredients? I’ve made this garlic at least 7 times and it works for me every single time. Are you using a regular jar? or some sort of special lid that lets gas out? Once more question, is it cold in your home? If it is cold where you are it may just take a bit longer to get started bubbling, and that’s okay.

Reply
Jackie October 19, 2022 - 6:13 pm

What is the purpose of the the cabbage leaves? Are hey necessary or can they be left out?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley October 20, 2022 - 8:27 am

I explain the cabbage leaves in the blog post above the recipe. They are necessary for this recipe.

Reply
Susie September 14, 2022 - 3:04 pm

Can you preblend before or after roasting?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley September 15, 2022 - 10:10 am

If you want to make garlic paste, you should blend it up after it is finished fermenting.

Reply
Hannah November 14, 2022 - 1:25 pm

This is my second time making this recipe because the first batch got eaten up SO fast! Very easy to follow steps and the end result was perfect. I’ve mainly been using the garlic and brine in salad dressings, but the cloves/cabbage are also tasty on their own. Thanks for inspiring my fermentation journey!

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley November 14, 2022 - 2:24 pm

I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed this recipe!

Reply
Cindi Kinch December 5, 2022 - 12:04 pm

I am trying this for the first time and the amount of garlic (400 g) doesn’t begin to fill my quart mason jar. Is it ok to increase the garlic or should I just add the weight and proceed with a half full jar?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley December 5, 2022 - 2:59 pm

you should follow the recipe as it’s written. I’m unsure how it “doesn’t begin” to fill up your quart jar. 400 grams is what is pictured here. one garlic clove weighs about 5 grams. so I’m pretty sure 80 garlic cloves should almost fill the jar.

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