Honey fermented garlic is one of the easiest fermentations to achieve and is absolutely delicious!
With this recipe, you’ll get scented liquid honey and honey garlic confit. Double delight! These two ingredients will elevate all your recipes to the next level.
In this article:
What Is Fermented Garlic in Honey?
Honey fermented garlic is a foolproof and absolutely delicious fermentation. It requires only two ingredients: unpasteurized honey and garlic cloves.
To make the recipe, place the garlic cloves in a jar and cover them with honey. It’s that simple!
By osmosis, honey draws the water out of the garlic cloves. The honey becomes more liquid, which creates an ideal environment for the garlic’s lactic acid bacteria to grow. Fermentation takes off, creating bubbles!
The longer the garlic cloves are left to ferment, the more refined and “candied” they will become. The enzymes naturally present in the garlic and honey will brown and soften the garlic cloves.
Over time, garlic loses its acrid, pungent taste. Honey garlic cloves can be eaten like candy! The garlic cloves and honey turn amber and take on a sweet, rich, umami flavour.
We love to use garlic honey in our marinades, in Asian recipes, or simply eat it with a spoon!
The Benefits of Honey Fermented Garlic
Honey and garlic are two foods that have been used over the ages for their many benefits.
Raw garlic contains allicin, a molecule that has been studied for the prevention of various diseases, such as diabetes and different cardiovascular diseases. (ref) The good news is that the allicin remains intact during the fermentation process! (ref)
Unpasteurized honey contains many enzymes, bacteria, and wild yeast. It also contains antioxidants, which may have preventive effects on cancer, cardiovascular, and other inflammatory diseases (ref).
Honey fermented garlic is not cooked and can be eaten raw (or cooked). So, you can have all the benefits of garlic and honey, without destroying the good enzymes and molecules with heat!
Another benefit of honey fermented garlic is its unbeatable flavour! If you like sweet and savoury dishes, you’ll want to incorporate honey garlic in all your meals.
In fact, many people use honey fermented garlic as is, as a flu buster during the cold season.
This fermentation contains only two ingredients: honey and garlic. It is therefore important to choose them carefully.
Honey must be unpasteurized.
Raw honey contains an interesting flora of good microorganisms and dormant enzymes, which allow this fermentation to work well.
We strongly recommend choosing organic and local honey. You can choose clover honey, wildflower honey, etc. It’s up to you!
Note: Maple syrup, agave syrup, and other types of sugar cannot be used in this recipe, as they are pasteurized and do not have the same acidity as honey.
Choose firm, fresh garlic cloves. If they are too old and dry, they will not produce enough water for fermentation.
Locally produced garlic is therefore much better than imported garlic which has dried out during transport.
If you see sprouts or damaged or dirty parts, remove them.
If possible, choose organic garlic. The recipe will still work with non-organic garlic.
Psst: Looking for a recipe for fermented garlic in brine? Check out our recipe for Lacto-Fermented Garlic Cloves.
How Do I Make Honey Fermented Garlic?
The preparation is quite easy.
1. Gather the Equipment
Before you start, you need to gather the equipment:
- Plastic lid
We recommend using a plastic lid to avoid rust. This is a long fermentation.
Unlike other fermented vegetable recipes, honey fermented garlic does not need any weight. The honey coats the garlic cloves thoroughly, which prevents mould.
2. Prepare the Garlic Cloves
This is perhaps the most time-consuming step!
Peel the garlic cloves and place them in a clean jar.
Do not fill more than half the jar with garlic cloves. Fermentation can be very active, and you want to avoid overflowing!
For a 500 ml jar, we used 3 heads of garlic. However, the quantity may vary depending on the size of the cloves. Luckily, the recipe is very easy to adjust.
3. Add the Honey
The next step is to cover the garlic cloves with honey. Mix well with a clean spoon to avoid air bubbles.
The garlic cloves should be well coated with honey. Leave the last quarter of the jar free to avoid overflowing.
4. Allow to Ferment
Leave the jar at room temperature for at least 30 days.
During the first week, it is important to stir well every day. The honey will draw the water out of the garlic cloves, and this liquid should be added to the honey.
Stirring also helps to coat the garlic cloves well, and thus avoids contact with oxygen.
We suggest waiting 30 days before tasting, but it is a fermentation that improves with time. The longer you wait, the better it gets! Be patient ;)
Honey Fermented Garlic Recipe
- 1 cup cloves of garlic
- ¾ cups unpasteurized honey
- Peel the garlic cloves. Remove any damaged or browned ones. If cloves are very large, cut them in half or quarters (optional).
- Place the cloves in the jar. Do not fill the jar more than half full.
- Pour the honey over the garlic
- Leave a quarter of the jar empty, to avoid overflowing.
- Place the jar on a plate and close it tightly.
- Let it stand for another two weeks. The honey will become much more liquid, like syrup. The cloves may darken - this is normal!
- Every day during the first week, release any excess gas by opening the lid slightly and then closing it again immediately. Shake the jar.
- After the first week, stir about once a week without opening the jar. The honey will become much more liquid, like syrup. The cloves may darken - this is normal!
- Honey fermented garlic can be eaten after a month but will only get better with time. Let it ferment for 2, 6, or 12 months... It's worth it!
Slip a chili pepper, 1 tsp. of chili flakes or a few slices of ginger into the jar before fermenting to make spicy garlic fermented honey. A foolproof flu buster!
How to Use Honey Fermented Garlic?
This fermentation can be used anywhere! Honey fermented garlic cloves can be used like fresh cloves: chopped, minced, whole, etc.
The honey can be used as a flavoured sauce.
Enjoy this fermentation in recipes such as:
- Marinades (meat, tofu, roasted vegetables, etc.)
- Honey mustard (try using homemade mustard)
- Asian soups
- Drizzled on pizza
- Spooned as a flu buster, or just for fun (yes, yes!)
Frequently Asked Questions
Are There Any Risks of Botulism With Honey Fermented Garlic?
In theory, there could be a danger of botulism with honey fermented garlic if the honey used is not very acidic.
Botulism could develop if all the right conditions are met, including acidity above a pH of 4.6. However, most kinds of honey have a pH of around 3.9, which is completely safe.
The fermentation of garlic in honey is safe due to:
- the natural acidity of honey,
- the high sugar content of the mixture,
- the molecules created by the microorganisms during fermentation.
Botulism is a food toxin created by the presence of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. This bacterium, naturally present in the environment, is often found in honey as a spore. If the environment were to become less acidic and more liquid, then there would be a risk of botulism developing.
One could therefore say that the risk is low, but considering the dangerous nature of the bacterium, it is important not to take this risk lightly. It should be noted, however, that we have not recorded any cases of poisoning (ref)!
It is best to test the acidity of your honey, but this is not always possible.
Otherwise, at the beginning of fermentation, add 1 tbsp. of vinegar, or 1 tbsp. of lemon juice to reach sufficient acidity.
Can I Give Garlic Honey to a Child Under One Year Old?
No. It is not recommended to give garlic honey to children under one year of age (ref).
Although the bacterium that causes botulism cannot grow in the mixture, spores may be present in the honey.
These spores are usually destroyed very easily by our acidic stomach. However, young children have not yet developed the acidity to fight these spores! This is why you should never give honey (with or without garlic) to a child under one year old.
Can I Ferment Other Things Than Garlic in Honey?
Yes, you can ferment fruit, ginger, chili peppers, onions, etc. using the same method.
Make sure you keep the proportions right. If necessary, test the pH and add vinegar at the beginning of fermentation to ensure the safety of the mixture.
Why Does My Garlic Honey Smell Like Alcohol?
If the honey is too diluted, yeast will kick in, creating alcohol. While we love mead, that’s not what we’re looking for here!
Garlic alcohol is still good to eat.
Next time, use a little more honey and less garlic.
Can I Use Maple Syrup to Ferment the Garlic?
No. Maple syrup and other sugars do not contain honey flora and are not acidic enough. We do not recommend replacing honey in this recipe.
Can I Use Crystallized Honey to Make Honey Fermented Garlic?
We do not recommend using crystallized honey to make honey garlic. The honey would require heating to liquefy, which could harm its flora and enzymes.
If the honey has crystallized after fermentation, you can put it in a double boiler to gently melt the honey. The mixture should then be stored in the fridge.
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