Garlic and Honey Ferment: On Using Honey in Fermentation
When I first saw this garlic honey fermentation recipe in my Wild Fermentation Uncensored group on Facebook, I was shocked at how popular it is. It almost seems to have its own cult following with members posting pictures of theirs almost every day. I, being my usual lurking self, haven’t posted any garlic fermentation recipe as I haven’t had the need to make one yet, it being summer and all. But now that I think about it, September would be the perfect time to make batches of fermented honey since, by the time they’re ready, it’ll be winter, and I would need a large amount of ammo in my arsenal to fight off all the cold bugs.
I usually use my honey for simple syrups, detox teas, other drink recipes or dessert, but using it for fermentation intrigued me. It was interesting to find that honey does ferment, although, if you think about it, it’s not very surprising. Raw honey, you see, consists of about 18% moisture, and 82% sugar, ergo, it is very shelf-stable; it can be safely stored in room temperature for a very long time, and best of all it even has antiseptic properties. It also hasn’t been heated or treated in any way, unlike pasteurized honey. This means that the naturally occurring enzymes and beneficial properties are left completely intact, perfect for fermentation as it will increase those benefits even more.
However, in order for honey to ferment, it needs a moisture content of at least 19%. Honey is hygroscopic so when you add garlic into the honey, it absorbs moisture from the garlic, and even though it is only a small amount of garlic juice, it is enough to initiate fermentation (but not enough to produce a significant amount of alcohol). What you do get is the transformation of both ingredients: the honey turns runnier, developing a deeper amber shade, completely infused with the flavour and benefits of garlic; the garlic deepens in colour but is milder in flavour, losing more of its bite the longer it ferments. This stuff fascinates me, so I’m definitely going to start doing a few honey ferments with other ingredients I love such as peppers, ginger etc… etc…
How to Find the Perfect Garlic for Your Fermented Garlic Honey
Before we get to the “recipe” (I don’t even want to call it a recipe considering how easy it is), here are a few tips to get the most health benefits from your garlic and honey ferment:
Use only locally grown organic garlic —commercial garlic are usually chemically treated to eliminate the risk of the heads sprouting.
Check the bottom of the garlic for roots. If the roots are all removed, leaving a concave clean spot, it may be from China. The root was removed to prevent soilborne plant diseases from entering our country. Although this is not definitive, I still prefer to purchase garlic with roots intact.
Choose heavier garlic with a long stem. The stems of garlic from China are cut very low to make it lighter for shipping. Choosing garlic with longer stems will help to extend their shelf life.
How to Find Raw Honey for Your Fermented Honey Garlic Recipe
For this garlic and honey ferment recipe you need to use raw, unpasteurized, unfiltered honey. Raw honey has not been pasteurized (heated at 70 degrees Celsius or more and rapidly cooled). Therefore, it has retained all of its natural vitamin, mineral, disease-preventing and disease-fighting flavonoids. You want to avoid using filtered, pasteurized honey for your fermentation recipes as pasteurization kills any yeast cell in the honey and prevents fermentation. Unfortunately, raw honey is harder to find than pasteurized honey, which as sold everywhere at any supermarket.
Your best bet to find raw honey is at a farmer’s market or from your neighbourhood beekeeper or bee farm. How to tell if honey is raw:
Pure honey has a high antioxidant level and will usually granulate or crystallize to a thick consistency over time, but imitation honey will remain in syrup form no matter how long it is stored. So look for cloudier honey that contains particles and flecks made of bee pollen, propolis and honeycomb bits.
Do the thumb test —Put a drop of honey on your thumb. If it spreads around or spills, it’s not pure. If it stays whole and intact, it’s pure.
Some Recommended Raw Honey from Amazon.com
How to Make Garlic and Honey Fermentation
Making fermented garlic honey is super easy, it hardly needs a recipe: the hardest part would be finding the ingredients, the most time-consuming part would be peeling. I don’t have an exact measurement for the honey or the garlic, basically, whatever size jar you choose to use, you will want to fill it about 3/4 full of peeled garlic. You can use a cute jar that fits in the palm of your hand or a gallon jar to make a large amount that will last for months, but keep in mind that peeling a lot of garlic can be very time-consuming. There are a few methods out there for peeling a large amount of garlic such as shaking them in a large metal bowl, or placing them in a glass bottle and shaking it.
I’ve tried both, you still need to peel some of the more stubborn ones. My favourite method for peeling garlic so far is to separate all the garlic into cloves, take one clove at a time and whacking it with the side of a chef knife —just a tiny little whack that wouldn’t crush the garlic (just bruising it) but will loosen its skin for easier peeling. I prefer this method because by bruising the garlic or damaging it in any way, a chemical reaction will follow that actually produces allicin, its most potent ingredient. It also releases more garlic juice to quickly move forward the fermentation process. Although I say that, your garlic will still ferment if used whole, and unbruised, it will just take a little longer.
Once all the garlic are peeled, and your jar is filled 3/4 of the way with the peeled garlic, it’s time to pour some raw honey to cover it. When you pour in the raw honey, you will find that the garlic will continually want to float to the top and rise out of the honey. That’s okay, you will just have to stir, or turn the honey garlic jar upside down/right side up daily to ensure the garlic cloves are evenly coated with raw honey so it will ferment evenly.
For this ferment, you don’t need an airtight container as gasses will continually build up. You will want to allow those gases to escape to avoid a large build up of pressure. Usually, what I would do every day is to just turn the jar upside down a few time and opening the jar just a little bit to let the gasses escape (basically, burping it daily). I usually only do this for the first week to combat the foaming mess of bubbles that continually tries to escape the jar. Over time, your honey will absorb moisture from the garlic, and thin out. The bubbles will subside, and the garlic will start to sink more and float less. When that happens, you can cut back on the frequency of stirring and eventually, you can stop.
There is no “correct” amount of time to ferment your honey garlic. Once the active bubbly stage is past you may begin using your honey garlic, but try not to use it too quickly —like fine wine, it only gets better with age. Now that you know how easy it is to ferment garlic in honey, let’s discuss the uses for fermented garlic honey.
Garlic and Honey Benefits: How to Use Honey Garlic Ferment
Eating Raw Garlic for Colds
There are many benefits of garlic with honey. This mellow yet sweet garlic cloves soaked in honey is a natural immune booster when you’re down with a cold, flu or any other common respiratory infections. Although it obviously won’t cure your cold overnight, it is one of the quickest natural remedies, and it’s just right there in your kitchen. When your body is feeling compromised from the cold, flu or a common respiratory infection, eat a clove every three or four hours to help with your recovery. You can eat as many honey garlic as you want, but I like to enjoy the things I love in moderation, so for me, about 1 – 2 garlic per day is perfect (or 1 tsp of honey the garlic is soaked in).
Strengthen your Immunity
Once you’ve won the battle and feel great again, reduce the number of cloves, but if you love the taste, you can continue to eat it every day for health maintenance. Just don’t feed it to any child under 1 year of age. If you like to stay busy and have no time waste fighting the common cold, prevention is still the best medicine. Hence, the main fermented garlic honey benefit is in its usage as a preventative snack to strengthens our immunity.
Since ancient time, garlic has been used to heal diseases and minor ailments; Chinese and Indian uses garlic for digestive and respiratory issues, whereas the Romans used it for gastrointestinal disorders, and joint diseases. It’s also interesting to note that during the earliest Olympics in Greece, there is some evidence that garlic was fed to the athletes to increase their stamina. This is due to alliin, the main component in raw garlic. As soon as you crush a clove of garlic, the cell walls are split and the enzyme alliinase is released, which converts alliin into allicin.
Allicin is an oily, yellowish liquid responsible for garlic’s strong odour. Although this compound is preserved in garlic while raw, once prepared at any temperature during cooking, the compound is destroyed along with all of its healing properties. Allicin protects garlic against certain bacteria by disabling enzymes that trigger damage, thus, it has been concluded that garlic is an effective natural antibiotic that kills certain pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and fungus. Thus making it the most effective natural remedies to treat an infection while strengthening your immune system.
Use the Honey
Use in cooking, tea, tonics or as a cough syrup to soothe your throat. You can also use it in any recipe that calls for garlic and honey —sweet and sour honey garlic pork, or sweet and sour salad dressings. So many possible uses!
Should I be Concern About Botulism in my Honey Garlic Ferment?
When it comes to the preservation of any food it is always best to be safe. Thus, it is very important to have some knowledge of food preservation safety procedures. This website will give you basic safety procedures and knowledge you should have before attempting any form of fermentation.
I am definitely not trying to scare you away from fermentation, as I love all forms of fermentation, however, I do advocate for knowledge. It’s never smart to do anything blindly. Although botulism is rare in North America, there were some cases of it.
What I learn from my light reading is that in order for botulism to occur, certain conditions have to be met. I wouldn’t go into all the scientific details as it’ll be super boring and I don’t want to fall asleep while I’m typing, but basically, the most important of these conditions is the PH level.
Depending on the floral sources that created it, the acidity of honey ranges from a pH of approximately 3.4 to 6.1, with an average of 3.9. Any ph less than 7 is acidic, and anything higher than 7 is basic. Botulinum, both growth and toxin formation, are completely inhibited at any ph level below 4.6, thus honey with an average ph of 3.9 is too acidic for botulinum spore to occur.
So, for fermented food, if you are generally clean and following basic safety procedures, there shouldn’t be any concern for botulism as most fermentations I know causes acidity (ph level to drop). The risk for botulism is actually much higher in pre-made, packaged, or canned food items such as foods preserved in oil which hadn’t been fermented to reach a ph level below 4.6. Personally, I am comfortable enough with my honey garlic ferment, but if you’re not, you might want to add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your ferment to keep the PH level low. Make sure to mix it well, and leave it for an hour before doing the second testing. Want more peace of mind? Buy a PH test strip/meter at your local drug stores, health food stores or purchase the ones shown below from Amazon. They’re very useful. Besides testing the ph level of my fermentations, I also use it to test out the ph of my DIY soap projects.
Shop for PH Meter from Amazon
Garlic and Honey Fermentation
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF HONEY INFUSED GARLIC?
See these resources for more information: