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Fermented Garlic

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I have been on a roll with fermenting lately, so I thought I would share this tutorial/recipe with you as well!  Tamara gave me the idea to ferment a bunch of cloves of garlic.  How nice would that be to have a fermented garlic, in the fridge, ready to put in fresh pico de gallo, guacamole, or whatever?

I thought the idea was brilliant, so one weekend at the farmer's market, I grabbed a few heads of garlic along with other goodies!  Fermenting garlic is SO simple.  The only drag is that it takes a long time to peel all of those cloves.

I decided that I wanted to fill a pint jar, but had no idea how many heads of garlic I would need.  I used one of those rubber tube rollers to peel the garlic because I wanted the cloves to be whole, not crushed or minced.  As I peeled them, I threw them into the jar.

Once I had peeled three heads of garlic cloves, I got tired.  And bored.  All of that peeling took me about 30 minutes.  As you can see, I definitely could have fit more garlic into the jar.  Almost another head, I bet!!

For this jar, I used the same method as I use for the Dilly Carrots.  Except, cut in half.  So, after all of the cloves were in the jar, I added half a tablespoon of sea salt and half a tablespoon of whey.  Then I topped it off with filtered water and added my lid.

Then, I waited.  An entire week.  When my garlic was ready, I noticed that some of the cloves had turned this weird blue/green color.  Before I tossed the whole jar into the trash, I did a little research.  This is what I found: (source)

  • Blue or purple pigments are caused by all amino acids (proteins) (except for cysteine, proline and 4-hydroxy-proline) in crushed, sliced, or fermented garlic.
  • Some amino acids may react with sulphur, causing blue or green discoloration.
  • Under acidic conditions, isoallin, a compound found in garlic, breaks down and reacts with amino acids to produce a blue-green color.

Phew!!!  I also noticed that not ALL of my garlic had turned green.  Only the garlic that had been somewhat smashed or cracked during the peeling process.  So, the garlic is still safe to eat.  Unless of course, it otherwise seems spoiled.  I have used my fermented garlic in my other ferments that require garlic and it has been great!

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Fermented Garlic Cloves


  • 3 to 4 heads of garlic peeled
  • 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon of whey
  • filtered water to cover


  • Peel all of your garlic and place the cloves into your jar.
  • Add the sea salt and whey.
  • Cover with filtered water.
  • Allow to ferment at room temperature for one week.
  • Refrigerate.

How will you serve your fermented garlic?

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fermented garlic - ohlardy.com


  1. i may have to try this. i am slowly getting into fermenting all the food! i have 2 garlic peeling tips for you:
    this one is the method i use and i usually cut the root tip off before shaking – with big bowls you can do 2-3 heads at a time. i have successfully peeled one head in a quart jar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d3oc24fD-c
    when he sez “shake the dickins out of it”, he means it, but it really works well and it is fast.

    i just found this one when i was searching for the first. i haven’t tried it, and i don’t think i would unless i was gonna be cooking it right away, but i will be giving this one a shot too.

    1. I would think microwaving it kind of misses the point of fermenting something raw…unless you don’t want it raw. I’m weary of anything microwaved.

      1. I do like the shake method. I’ve also put garlic in a dish towel and slammed it on the counter – similar effect but a little more violent ; )

    1. You can also very often ferment without any starter culture. There is lacto bacteria on the surface of most foods and it will thrive given a salty environment.

      I’ve made fermented garlic just like this, but without any starter culture. Fermented fine and left them out fermenting for a month – wonderful change in the flavor – can eat them straight out of the jar!

    2. I’d like to second Ken’s comment. Whey is entirely unnecessary. I do not understand why so many blogs insist that you use whey or another starter culture. Sure, it speeds up the process. But often times it’s just an added, unneeded expense. Using whey or other starters only makes sense if you already have an abundance of it. So unless you’re already having cheese or have a bunch of ferments going, just skip it, start from scratch, and be patient.

      1. It is not necessary, you are correct. However, I choose to use a starter of some sort (be it whey, culture starter or liquid from previous batch) most of the time to ensure good results. I have fermented ‘wild’ on occasion and sometimes have success, sometimes don’t.

        Everyone has their own technique that works best for them when it comes to fermenting! -tm

  2. I’m going to try this. Question: It looks like you don’t have to worry about weighting down the garlic like you do other veggies, because they naturally stay on the bottom of the jar? Just double-checking.

  3. Thanks! I joined a fermenting meet-up group, and the next meeting is all about garlic. I’ll be fermenting the garlic for about a week to ten days, then I’ll be adding French fries to ferment with the garlic! : )

    1. I am trying to find all I can about fermented garlic and botulism. I followed directions exactly, and don’t know for sure what caused my illness. I have read that the high acid kills botulism, but after vomiting violently three times about 24 hours after eating it, I had to wonder. I found this comment on a botulism site: DO NOT TASTE food from swollen containers or food that is foamy or has a bad odor. Mine was definitely fizzy and foamy, and of course, all fermented veggies have a strong odor. Has anyone heard of anyone else who has had this problem with fermented garlic? Thanks.

      1. Are you certain that what you had was botulism? It sounds like you were not sick enough for that, but it’s difficult to say. In an acidic medium, botulism should not form, but when in doubt, throw it out. If you have a serious botulism concern, double-bag the whole jar and throw it right out all the way to the dumpster. Don’t try to save the jar because it’s not worth the risk.

        Ferments do get fizzy and to smell strong, so what you describe is normal. But if you got sick, there was something going on. Difficult to know.

  4. Fermented garlic is an essential ingredient in chili sauce .

    Use 1 teaspoon of (habanero or butch t or bhut jolokia ) * jam 1 teaspoon of fermented garlic ( crushed ) add from 3/4 of a cup to 2 cups of either cane sugar syrup , or high fructose corn strup. Stir well , leave for a few days. ( start with the lowest amount of sugar , taste , add more if too hot)

    * not commercial habanero jam -which is very weak- but your own jam which shoul contain 50% chilies to 50% premixed pectin sugar for jams. Mix then boil for 5 minutes with all windows open. Put in small jars.

  5. I have been looking for an explanation or “cure” for my problem. I love garlic but it gives me horrendous, painful gas. Even powdered garlic does the same. The two biggest things that are suppose to be really good for digestion (of which mine is very poor) is garlic and probiotics in pill or liquid form; both give the same stink and pain. Fermentation has helped tons with my digestion, esp kombucha tea and saurkraut. My question, (finally) do you think fermenting the garlic would take the properties that cause my problem away (some say it is the sulfer?) Also is there anyone else who has the same problem? I haven’t found anyone complaining about garlic on these sites and blogs. Sigh…I’m all alone (sup, sup)…mainly because of embarrassing smells that I cannot cover up or escape the blame. LOL. I would love to eat these garlic cloves.

  6. Hello, I fermented some garlic using a simple brine and left them for a couple of months. To my delight they all turned from white to a deep green colour. Like you, I looked into it and was releived that they were still good to eat. They smell great and have transformed the garlic into something truly wonderful. It is great to find another fermenter!

  7. I love fermented garlic, but oddly enough, I have yet to try a basic recipe like this! I may give this a shot after I run out of what I have. I have several Japanese garlic pickles (not sure if they class as true ferments). One with Miso and Mirin and another in Tamari and rice vinegar. YUM! I’ve also got some in the fridge that’s been soaking in kombucha vinegar. I didn’t know what to do with all my booch vinegar, so I tried soaking some garlic cloves in it. Would you believe that it intensifies the garlic flavor? Like a lot!

    By the way, next time you need to peel a lot of garlic, check out the technique in this video. I use it all the time and it works great. I don;t use 2 bowls like this guy does, but I do use my big stainless steel pasta pot. Works like a charm! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d3oc24fD-c

    1. It is less spicy than raw garlic but not as mild as pickled garlic. I do find it pleasant and it is easier to digest than raw garlic would be. It is delicious in salsas, salads, guac, etc.! Or, if we are coming down with something, we may just eat it plain.

  8. I have fermented garlic in the fridge that I started over a year ago. My husband eats it right out of the jar raw. He says the longer it goes, the better it tastes. I haven’t had the nerve to eat it like that yet. I like it with other things with it like salad dressing. I buy organic garlic cloves in bulk that are already peeled. My understand is that if the garlic has been bruised/battered around that it isn’t as good for fermenting as non-bruised.

  9. Hi,

    I see that you’re trying to perfect the preservation of your garlics.

    I have once encountered with a preserved garlic in a glas container comming from the US, brought to me by a friend. She bought it from a Chinese shop! This container had chopped garlic in there, with salt, water and vinegar! It was so convenient to use, ‘coz you practically just get a teaspoon out that jar container and start cooking! No more fuzz of chopping and peeling!

    Due to your idea, I would want to make me that same jar I got from my friend and will try to post it by Pinterest!

    Have a good day, and thanks for the post!

  10. The smell of my fermenting garlic is absolutely overwhelming! I put it in the refrigerator, and even then, my whole kitchen smells when I open the refrigerator door! Is this normal?

  11. My fermenting garlic has a sting order. It smells pleasant like you’re making Italian food but can I transfer it to a different jar while it’s fermenting to contain the smell? I don’t want my refrigerator to smell like that. It did bubble out of the jar and I rinsed it under running water without opening the jar. I then opened the jar and resealed it but it bubbled out again. I used a very large clamp jar with a rubber seal.

  12. Regarding the rubber tube thingy mentioned for peeling the garlic: there are MANY of these offered on Amazon at much lower prices. I have been using one for years but wouldn’t pay the price stated on the link. I do look forward to trying the fermentation.

  13. Have to do this! I typically ferment my garlic in some honey, and use it for the immune system, but having some fermented garlic on hand for dips and sauces and things is PERFECT! I’ve run into several people who’ve had the blue thing, it’s so crazy, haha

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