“Garlic is divine. Few food items can taste so many distinct ways, handled correctly. Misuse of garlic is a crime…Please, treat your garlic with respect… Too lazy to peel fresh? You don’t deserve to eat garlic.”
― Anthony Bourdain
Fermented Garlic Honey is touted as an immunity booster and a flu buster, but it also makes a great marinade with the addition of a little soy sauce or simply as is.
Since I grow my own garlic and make my own fermented garlic honey, I’ll show you the process. It’s pretty simple, so long as you don’t have an explosion. So let’s jump in…
All you need for fermented garlic is a couple of bulbs of your favorite garlic, honey, preferably local honey, and a jar with a lid. I have made this recipe just like that, and I have made it with additional optional ingredients. In this batch, I will add ginger root as well. You could also add spicy peppers like bird peppers, as some say that it enhances the immunity-building effect. You could add lemons cut into small pieces. You’re creating a flavor-packed, fermented honey concoction that is said to increase immunity and help stave off colds.
When you peel the garlic, you’re going to get your hands sticky and smelling of garlic. I’ll show you a trick for getting them clean and fresh smelling at the end. In this step, you want to peel the cloves. If they are cracked open in the process, that’s ideal. They will ferment faster.
Honey is touted as being able to fight micro-infections and microbes, so you may be wondering how fermentation can happen when you are surrounding the cloves in honey. Honey gets its properties from the lack of water in it. Microbes and yeasts can’t survive and make a home because they can’t move around in it. If you were to put it into a wound, it helps to protect the wound. After a time, though, its hygroscopic properties come out. If it is not in a sealed container, it will attract moisture from the air and become more liquid. It will also give way to the bacteria and yeasts contained in the honey and found in the air and on many surfaces it contacts. This can cause spontaneous fermentation, which will be the subject of a future blog on making mead.
The garlic, like many vegetables, has Lactobacillus in and around it. Similar to sauerkraut, also a future blog here, this will cause the vegetable matter of the Allium to ferment. Lactobacillus acidophilus and other similar bacterias are considered probiotic and already live in our guts. They process the foods we eat and make the nutrients accessible to our bodies. When garlic is chopped, chewed, or crushed, it produces allicin – an active compound with potent anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, and antioxidant properties.
Ginger root has been used since ancient times to enhance the effects of other medicines. Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. There’s lots of good research touting the health benefits of this root. Some people hate it, though. They may even hate it at a genetic level like some do Cilantro. If you don’t like ginger, don’t add it. Stick to the honey and garlic alone. If you do add the ginger, you can simply use a vegetable peeler, but I find this removes too much material. A trick to peeling it is to soak the root in water for 5 minutes and then scrape the skin off with the side of a spoon. The skin is edible, so you don’t have to do this. It just makes your presentation better. Process the skinned ginger by cutting it into 1/8th to ¼ inch pieces. I use equal ratios of ginger to garlic for this recipe.
Combine both the honey and the garlic, and you have the potent health benefits of the garlic with the natural health benefits of the honey. Fermenting them is said to increase the bio-availability of the ingredient’s natural compounds. When picking honey, it is said that you are best served using honey that is locally produced and unfiltered. The reasoning here is that you are exposed to small amounts of pollens or honey made from the same flowers that are enflaming your sinuses. Lots of research has been done, and this hasn’t been proven, but it seems intuitive enough to me that I still lean towards using regional kinds of honey. Every little bit helps, and if it is at all true, I’ll buy local over a horrible bout of sinusitis. If you use non-raw, filtered honey from wherever it likely will have the same immunity protecting effect.
Recent studies have also leaned towards the idea that much of our immunity begins with a healthy gut. The combination of honey, garlic, lemon, capsicum from peppers, turmeric, cayenne, horseradish, and similar ingredients and concoctions– you may have heard of the liquid forms referred to as a Ginger bug or immunity juice, has been proven to open our cells up, deliver vital nutrients, and combat microbial, viral, and bacterial infections. If none of that at all is accurate, and some would say it’s just hooey, it’s worth finding a concoction of these ingredients that is right for you to give your body what it needs to stay healthy. Perhaps it is all a placebo effect, but then again, maybe mom’s chicken soup and grandma’s hot toddy’s are placebos as well. Still, they make us feel like we are in charge of our own health and might just give us a fighting chance and good nutrients. At the very least, this recipe will make a great marinade, which I’ll share at the end of the page.
Once your garlic is peeled, the cloves cracked, and at least half of your jar is filled, you will add the honey. To get the garlic scent off your fingers, wash a stainless steel spoon with a bit of dish soap and water in your bare hands. The chemical reaction will neutralize the garlic smell. It’s a tip my mother taught me years ago.
I had some regional honey and some local honey, so I added them both. Leave a solid inch of headspace from the top of the jar because fermentation will add bubbles to your mix and exposure to air will add liquid. If you have fermented foods before, you may have a fermentation weight. The point of a fermentation weight is to weigh down your vegetables during fermentation, which means it actually needs to weigh enough to hold things down. If you have one, you can use it here. It’s not really necessary, though, since the honey will coat your food and keep it from being exposed to the air; and the honey, as I mentioned earlier, should prevent bacteria from getting ahold of your mix.
Once you have added the honey and left about an inch of headspace, seal the jar and give it a really good shaking. Make sure the honey is all mixed up. With the jar sealed, you can set it on its top to isolate the air bubble at the bottom of the jar. Now, once or twice per day, you will want to burp your jar and give it a gentle shake to remix the substance. Fermentation releases C02. If you were to simply leave it sealed, the jar may explode. You have to burp the jar at least once per day for the next week or two. Place the jar on a saucer in a shaded and cool part of your kitchen. Burp and shake once per day, sealing the lid tightly each time. Some have said that you can leave the lid loose, and you could if you plan on using it up within a few weeks; however, leaving the honey exposed to air will result in it pulling moisture from the air, lowering the viscosity to a runnier liquid, and welcoming in unwanted yeasts and bacterias. In the short term, this is good, if you need a batch now and plan to use it up before harmful bacterias can take up in it. For a longer shelf-life, though, keep it sealed, burp and gently shake one or two times a day, and refrigerate around the third to fifth day. If your fermentation is happening, when you open it, you will see tiny bubbles around the edges. Even in the refrigerator, make sure to burp it once or twice per week.
I have heard people just add honey to top up their fermented garlic honey as they use it, but do not do this. Don’t think of it as a yeast or sourdough starter. Unrefrigerated garlic can foster the growth of clostridium botulinum bacteria, which produces poisons that do not affect the taste or smell. Even refrigerated, there’s a shelf-life to your fermented honey garlic. Spores of this clostridium botulinum bacteria are commonly found in soil and can be on produce such as garlic. If you don’t know what bacteria that is, it’s the one that causes botulism. You can’t cook botulism out of foods. Plan on using your mix within the month you create it and keep it refrigerated once the fermentation has run through your mix.
HOW TO USE IT
There are several methods for using this concoction. It tastes much better than you might think. Some put a teaspoon per day in hot water and drink it as a soothing tea. Some put it over chicken or wings along with other spices in the final minutes of cooking. Some just eat a spoonful per day as an immunity booster and for a healthy dose of probiotics to aid digestion and nutrient absorption. Whatever you do, plan to use your batch within the month to be safe, and plan to make a fresh batch at the end of that month.
Like I mentioned earlier, it makes an excellent marinade for chicken. I will soak the chicken in a few heaping tablespoons of the fermented garlic and ginger honey, a cup or two of soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, bird peppers, or other hot pepper, and one cup of pineapple juice to make what is sometimes called Huli Huli chicken. After an hour or two of marinating, I will grill the chicken and hit it with a nice warmed-up coating of the fermented garlic and ginger honey and a little soy sauce in the final minutes of cooking. It’s guaranteed delicious.
If it can keep you healthier and is an immunity booster, fermented garlic honey is an excellent first step into fermenting foods. It’s an incredibly easy recipe and process to tuck away in your prepper kitchen. I would love to hear how your batch turned out or if you have used this or a similar recipe to keep healthy. Let me know in the comments below.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Keep your kitchen prepped.
ULTIMATE HULI HULI CHICKEN RECIPE
Make marinade and reserve 1/3 cup for brushing cooked chicken in the final 5 minutes. Marinade chicken. Grill chicken. Add an additional tablespoon of fermented garlic & ginger honey to reserved 1/3 cup to thicken. Brush chicken with reserved liquid in the final 5 minutes of cooking.
When the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees Fahrenheit, 73.8 degrees celsius, remove it to a serving platter. Pour over the top any remainder of the reserved sauce or a few splashes of soy sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.