You know how sometimes when you’re at the gym, there’s a guy next to you, sweating away, who just exudes the smell of a lasagna? I’m that guy. I can retain the smell of garlic and purge it through sweat like weeks after my last garlic consumption. It’s ridiculous. I also, sadly, have a bit of a love hate relationship with garlic. I LOVE eating it, and for years (this is how in touch with my body I am) I would eat raw garlic in hummus or in salsa or in a salad dressing and be totally perplexed by the horrible bloating and discomfort I would experience afterwards. I finally realized, again, after years of this, that I’m basically garlic-intolerant. So you lactoids and GFers out there, I feel your pain. I know this sounds weird and that garlic-intolerance isn’t a thing, but tell that to my belly when it chooses to imitate that of a 9-months preggo belly after a single bit of raw mince enters it. The weirdest part, though, is that it’s only raw garlic; roast it, boil it or sauté it and I’m in garlic heaven.
Happily, my garlic free pass also applies to fermentation. I can chomp down on a fermented clove and experience no ill effects, which makes me really, really happy. I don’t tend to eat these cloves raw, though. They aren’t as pungent as raw garlic, but they maintain their crisp texture, so if you ever wanted to freak out your friends by appearing to eat a bulb or two of raw garlic, fermented would be the way to go.
I let my garlic ferment for a good, long time, but if you are the impatient sort, you could always add a bit of whey to get it going fast. I don’t mind it slow, though. Even a pint lasts a long time in our garlic loving house.
Yield 1 pint of pickled cloves
A few notes: Sometimes garlic turns green/teal/blue when it ferments. It’s totally fine to eat (and can make certain kids giggle with delight when they eat it). Sadly this batch stayed white, so I don’t get to show you those fun shades of organic green. It has to do with the age of the garlic and amino acids. More on blue garlic here.
Regular readers will note that I use about double the salt in this recipe that I do in many of my pickle recipes. There are a few reasons for this. The longer fermentation time is one, and the fact that I use these as a seasoning rather than a chomping pickle is another. If you feel that it’s too much for you, feel free to reduce the salt.
Organic garlic is greatly preferred here. Like ginger and hot peppers, I always buy (or grow) organic to avoid vegetables that have possibly been irradiated. If all the bugs, good and bad, are dead, fermentation will simply not occur.
Balking at peeling all that garlic (and yes, you’ll want to peel it rather than buying the pre-peeled cloves that are treated with all kinds of preservatives that could impede fermentation)? Try this fun method of peeling a whole bulb quick. It’s fun, it works, and you’ll even burn a few calories.
If this is your first time making fermented pickles, please check out my Pickle FAQ before getting started.
- 4 heads garlic, cloves peeled and separated
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1 cup room temperature, filtered water
- Stir salt into water until dissolved. Alternatively, you can heat the water for easier salt dissolution, but you’ll need to let it come back to room temperature before pouring it over your garlic.
- Put your peeled garlic cloves into a quart-sized jar, cover with your (room temperature brine).
- Make sure garlic is kept away from air, using either an airlock or gasket jar or a cheapo/free method, such as the ghetto jar method.
- Let your jar sit at room temperature for 4 weeks (they can go much, much longer) away from direct sunlight. You may want to check at the two week point to make sure brine hasn’t evaporated. Keeping your cloves submerged is essential! If the brine is low, add a touch more.
- I say this garlic is getting close to done when the smell of it changes from harsh, raw garlic to the alluring aroma of roasted garlic. After that, it’s acidity preference and you’re free to chomp dem cloves. If there’s any garlic pungency left, they aren’t done (at least to my preference).
- Make some alarmingly tasty hummus, salsa or pesto!