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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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)
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.
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.
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.
- 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.