Now I love a good ferment and I love playing with new things to make and try at home. A little over a year ago I saw an article about fermented garlic honey. As someone who loves garlic and honey I figured why not try this quick and easy ferment. With a little research on the best method, soon I had two jars of honey and garlic sitting on my counter fermenting away. After a week I moved them into the fermentation cabinets and ended up completely forgetting about them until more recently when I moved. With them back on my mind I figure I should mess with them some more and talk about what they are, their benefits, and how you can make some at home with just a couple minutes.
First off let's talk about honey and garlic individually and the amazing health benefits they each bring to the table. I am no health expert but in my research in more natural eating and living, both of them alone can do a lot to improve your body. Honey is a sweetener but since it comes from a natural source it has a lot of benefits compared to any processed cane sugar. Honey is slightly acidic which makes it a great antiviral and anti-fungal element in cooking and home health remedies. It also has a soothing, anti-inflammatory effect so when you have a cough or sore throat a spoonful of honey can help ease the pain and make life a little easier. Honey also has a lot of antioxidants, specifically some that help with heart health. Before you go running to the store to get honey you do want to make sure you're getting actual honey. A lot of honey that you can get is actually cut with other sugars like corn syrup to reduce the price. These will not have the same effects. It's best to find raw and ideally unfiltered, this just means it hasn't been processed that much and is almost straight from the hive. You also should look for local. Not only does this support small and local businesses, but local honey has trace amounts of pollen and other allergens in your area and by ingesting them it has been observed to help your body build a resistance to them and help with your allergies. Again, I'm no health expert but I love looking for more natural remedies before using something from a drug store. I hope more research is done into these natural remedies in the future to better understand the natural medicines that exist in our daily lives already.
Garlic as well has a lot of health benefits. It has sulfur that helps as an antimicrobial and antiviral. Along with honey, garlic also has a benefits for the heart and helps boost the production of white blood cells. It has been shown to lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke. Overall eat more garlic because it's so good for you. But by mixing it with honey we get even more benefits with the process of fermentation.
When you ferment, you increase the amount of microorganisms and beneficial bacteria that help with gut health. It's said that a healthy gut is the key to health as a whole, so it's best to eat things that support the microscopic flora and fauna in your digestive system. When we mix garlic and honey together the garlic breaks down and releases a little water into the honey, opening the door for natural dormant yeasts to begin the fermentation process creating these microbes we are looking for. Allow the mixture to sit for a month..... or a year...... and you have a great product to use in your everyday cooking to boost these beneficial microscopic organisms and other health benefits. Now let's talk a little more in depth on how exactly to go about making your own fermented garlic honey at home.
How to Make Fermented Garlic and Honey
You will need:
- Honey, ideally raw, unfiltered, and local
- Organic Garlic, I'll discuss why later on
- Non-metallic Fermenting Container, like a mason jar (metal lid is okay)
Peel garlic, leaving cloves whole.
Using a bench scraper or flat meat tenderizer, crust the garlic slightly to bruise. Make sure not to smash but just break it open slightly and beat it up a bit. You can also use your hand but make sure you don't hurt yourself.
Place the bruised garlic into the fermentation vessel.
Cover with honey. Garlic will float at first but don't worry, it will change over the first few days.
Close container (if you have a gas release lid use it otherwise burp it a few times a day) and allow to sit at room temp away from direct sunlight.
Check on it daily, stirring and burping for a week. After that there won't be as much gas build up and you can store it in a cool, dark place like a fermentation cabinet. (I have a cabinet in my kitchen that I use for all my fermenting needs instead of dish storage)
Allow to ferment for 1 month before use. It will last forever but discard if you seen any mold growth (this could happen if you leave it in a sunny spot or contaminate with something like a dirty spoon)
As you use the honey and garlic, replenish with fresh bruised garlic and more honey.
Okay so a few key things about this. First off I mentioned above using organic garlic. This is actually really necessary. Part of the fermentation comes from natural yeasts and organism that live on garlic but if it isn't organic and has been treated with any chemicals these organism are weak or nonexistent and you won't get any fermentation. The first jar I did of this experiment did eventually ferment but the first week with non-organic garlic it did nothing. Once I added some organic garlic it took off. Ideally grow your own or get it from a farmer at a market. Good, dirt covered garlic is the best to use.
Second, like I mentioned above, USE GOOD HONEY. You won't get a good result from those little bear shaped bottles. That isn't real honey. I recently have been using the Nextdoor app and I have found a lot of local people that have hives and sell the honey. You can also do a quick google search and the amount of people investing in hives is amazing and makes me shed a tear of happiness that bees are getting the love they need these days. Go find some good honey for this project and in general to use. It's so much better for you.
Third, you can keep this going for a long time. Let it sit a month to get all delicious but like I said starting off, I forgot about my jars for a year and they are golden. The first week or so they need to be burped or they can burst open but after that the majority of the gas production stops or slows down and I haven't had any issues.
Lastly, don't stop or feel the need to make a new one. As you use garlic cloves and honey (I'll get to some ideas in a minute) just add more and let it keep going. If you add more you will get a little more gas build up so make sure to burp daily for a week after adding anything new. Other than that the jar and mixture can go until you mess it up with light or contamination. You'll know this happens when you see mold or other things growing in the jar. At that point you should toss it but I have had no issue with this sitting for a year before I even tried it.
Okay, now let's talk about what to do with this stuff once you have made and fermented it. I find that along with the slight sweetness of honey and the nice garlic flavor that are clearly going to be in the mixture, the fermentation also brings this nice umami flavor similar to soy sauce. When it comes to using the mixture you can use the honey or the garlic depending on it's intended use.
First off, if you like the flavor you can just eat a clove of garlic or a spoonful of honey. It's a really great flavor and taking it as is is the best way to get all the benefits. Honey is commonly used in tea but with the earthy and garlic flavor you might want to skip it in your daily cuppa. Besides that though, the honey adds a nice sweet fermented flavor to dressings for salad or anything savory you use honey in. You can also use the honey in a marinade to get garlic flavor without actually adding garlic. The best way to use it though is a nice drizzle on pizza fresh from the oven. I love a good honey drizzle with cheesy flavors and with the added garlic on pizza it just brings it to a whole new level.
The garlic can be placed on a pizza as well. I love a good clove of garlic on a pizza or a slice of bread so it makes sense to use the fermented garlic in it's place. You can also chop the garlic up and mix it into a dressing or marinade for even more garlic flavor with a slight sweetness of honey. Because it's been fermented it doesn't have that super sharp bite that is associated with raw garlic so you can even chop it up and sprinkle it on a salad or over some veggies. It's best to use either the garlic or honey in a raw form without further cooking. You want those healthy gut bacteria right? Of course you can add it to any dish and cook it away but to reap the most benefits try to add it at the end of as a finisher so that little heat is applied that would kill off those helpful microbes.
No matter how you eat it though it's a great addition to anyone's kitchen. Grab yourself some great ingredients, I highly suggest splurging on a top shelf honey and some great garlic. Whip yourself a batch and be amazing at the flavors and combinations you can come up with when you ferment your garlic in honey. As always leave a comment with any questions or if you try this yourself let me know your favorite way to enjoy it!