Urban Homesteading and Sustainable Living

A Joyful Homestead

Category: Cooking from Scratch

honey garlic ferment

Fermented Honey Garlic

Fermented garlic honey is one of the easiest concoctions to make, yet it looks, smells and tastes like you put much more effort into it. I like to give small jars to friends as Christmas gifts, but it’s great at any time of the year. This fermentation does not produce more than a trace amount of alcohol.

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Honey on garlic

Why make a honey garlic ferment?

First of all, it’s delicious. I use it as a base for marinades quite often. Friends tell me they like to spread it on toast like preserves. It is reportedly good for immune system support and is wonderfully soothing for a sore throat. I don’t bother buying throat lozenges anymore unless I am travelling. When I wake up in the night with a sore throat, I get up and take one spoonful of the mixture and go back to bed. Many people take a spoonful daily as an immune booster. It is great for adding to your daily dose of fire cider. Let me know in the comments how you have used your honey garlic.

Here are the basic ingredients needed:

  • Raw honey (unfiltered and unpasteurized)
  • Several heads of organic garlic
  • A large mason jar with a lid (I use a quart size jar)
Ingredients for garlic honey ferment.

Raw Honey

I buy raw honey from a local apiary. Raw honey is essential for the fermentation process, as it contains wild yeast and bacteria necessary for the process. Raw honey contains antioxidants and probiotics, has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, and has been used for thousands of years as a folk remedy. Read more on the health benefits of raw honey here.

Do not, under any circumstances, feed raw honey to anyone under the age of one, as there is a risk of botulism. The number of cases of infant botulism reported in Canada between 1979 and the present is relatively small (42 cases) but despite that, all sources I have read on raw honey strongly advise against feeding it to infants. If you are concerned about botulism, you can test your honey garlic mixture with a pH strip or digital pH meter.

Garlic

Any type of garlic will work for this, but I recommend using organic, locally grown garlic when possible. Commercially sold garlic is sometimes treated with chemicals to prevent it from sprouting, and you do not want that in your mixture. I grow my garlic, but also buy some from the farmer’s market as I do not have the space to grow enough for the year.

Honey poured over garlic

Jars and lids

For my ferments, I typically use a quart or litre size mason jar, but you can make as much or as little as you desire. I recommend using a plastic mason jar lid, such as these by Ball. You can use the metal canning lids that come with the jar, but I prefer to save those for canning. The plastic lids are easy to wash and re-use, and eliminate the potential for rusting if the rings contact the honey garlic mixture (and they will).

You can also use silicone fermenting lids, but I have not tried this method, as it would still require either the solid lid for turning over or stirring with a spoon. I find the honey to be too thick to stir for the first few days. I may try this as an experiment, but I am happy with the loose lid method that I am currently using.

The amount of garlic you need will depend on the size of your jar. You ideally want to fill the jar 3/4 full with the garlic. For peeling large quantities of garlic, I use a pint-sized mason jar with a lid. Separate the cloves from the heads and place them all in the jar. Secure the lid and shake vigorously until you see the skins start to loosen. Dump the cloves onto a cutting board, and remove any skins that are still attached.

Honey garlic fermenting

Instructions

  • Fill mason jar with peeled garlic to between 2/3 and 3/4 full. Garlic should be slightly bruised from the peeling process (see above). If they are not, gently press on them with the flat of a table knife to bruise them. You do not need to cut them, but I like to take off the end of the clove (the end that was attached to the bulb centre).
  • Pour or spoon raw honey into the jar until the garlic is covered. Leave about 1” to 2” head space. If your honey is quite crystallized, you may want to gently soften it first by either running the container under hot water, or placing the container it in a bowl of hot water. Do not put your honey container in the microwave.
  • Cover the jar by loosely screwing on the lid.
  • Place the jar on a small plate or saucer. Some of the honey mixture will bubble up and leak out of the jar.
  • Turn the jar over about once a day, after first tightening the lid. Remember to loosen the lid slightly when returning the jar to its upright position. If your honey is runny enough, you can shake the jar rather than flipping it.
  • Your garlic will be finished fermenting in about one month, but you can use it earlier if you want.
  • Some of the honey may remain crystallized, and that is quite normal.
  • You can add more honey and more garlic to the jar as you use it, or you can start a new batch when you get low. I usually add to mine when the jar is about half empty.

Over the next few days and weeks, the honey will become more liquid, as the moisture from the garlic is absorbed. Try to keep the garlic covered with honey, especially in the first two weeks. Turning the jar regularly should be sufficient (see instructions above). Keep the jar out of direct sunlight.

That’s it! How easy was that?! Let me know in the comments if you have tried this or have any questions before starting.

Fire Cider Recipe, Instructions and Tips

Fire cider was invented by master herbalist Rosemary Gladstar and some of her students in the late 1970s. The original recipe only contained 7 ingredients:

  • Apple cider vinegar

  • Onion

  • Garlic

  • Ginger

  • Horseradish

  • Hot peppers

  • Honey

Rosemary Gladstar has authored several books on herbalism over the years, including a new one that I’m excited to check out: Fire Cider!: 101 Zesty Recipes for Health-Boosting Remedies Made with Apple Cider Vinegar, published by Storey Publishing in October 2019.

The recipe that I use has several more ingredients in addition to the ones listed above.

This is my third year making fire cider with this recipe, and I only make it once a year because it makes a gallon (approximately three litres). I usually give at least one litre of it away to friends.

I use it in the fall through spring as an immune booster. Friends of mine discovered that it is also great for sore throats, but I highly recommend watering it down and adding a spoonful of honey if your throat is feeling raw.

Ingredients Fire Cider

Chop of the all ingredients below as thinly as possible (or in 1/2” to 1” chunks if you are pressed for time). Be prepared to be chopping for up to an hour. I prefer to hand chop the ingredients rather than use the food processor, but that is totally an option to save time and labour. I’ve provided both metric and imperial measurements. Here in Canada we tend to use a mix of both.

  • 1 orange with peel

  • 2 lemons with peel

  • 1/2 lb (226 g) ginger root (peeled or not – your choice)

  • 1/2 lb (226 g) horseradish root (easy to grow!)

  • 1 large yellow or white onion

  • 2 whole heads of garlic (the peeled weight should be 2-1/2 to 3 oz or 80 g)

  • 2-3 large jalapeno peppers (peppers with similar heat can be substituted)

  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme (I use lemon thyme)

  • 3-4 sprigs of rosemary

  • 1/2 cup of chopped parsley

  • 2 tbsp turmeric powder (or fresh turmeric root chopped finely)

  • 1/4 cup whole peppercorns (rainbow peppercorns are fun to use for this, but use what you have on hand).

  • Apple cider vinegar, unpasteurized, with the mother – approximately 1.5 litres (1.58 quarts)

Ginger, Garlic, Apple Cider Vinegar

Place all the ingredients in a 1 gallon or 3 to 4 litre size glass jar, or other glass container. Pour in the apple cider vinegar. If your jar has a metal lid, cover it first with wax paper or plastic wrap before screwing it on. If you skip this, the vinegar will corrode the metal lid. You don’t want rust in your fire cider!

I used a 3 litre size fermentation jar with lid for this batch, but you don’t need to get that fancy. For my first batch I used a sterilized fish bowl covered with plastic. I got the fish bowl at the thrift store for $2.

If you want to start off with a smaller sized batch, I suggest looking at a different recipe. There are many online to choose from. Here is a link to a good one from Grow, Forage, Cook, Ferment that uses a quart size jar. This one from Homestead & Chill uses a half-gallon size jar. I honestly prefer to make a larger batch, so that I have enough for a full year, but beginners might want to start smaller.

Shake or stir the mixture daily for 3-6 weeks. Strain the mixture through either a fine metal strainer or cheesecloth. Store in glass bottles or jars, with rubber stoppers or plastic lids (no metal lids). Drink 1-2 oz a day, watered down and sweetened with honey if desired. I don’t always water mine down, and I rarely add honey, but that is personal preference.

Fire Cider in litre bottles

After straining the solids, you can compost them, but I recommend dehydrating them if you can. I froze mine because it was too cold to dehydrate outside when I strained it. I don’t recommend dehydrating the solids inside, as the smell will be quite strong and over-powering. You can grind the dehydrated solids into a powder and use it as a spice to add heat to dishes.

Fire cider solids
Fire cider solids after straining liquid