Friday, May 24, 2013

Preserving Garlic with Fermentation and Its Health Benefits

Preserving Garlic - Garlic Bulbs
Last year the Bunker family invited us over for supper. It was a nice time of great food and fellowship. Over the course of the evening, Mr. Bunker offered us some preserved garlic to try. It was basically garlic that had been aged in vinegar - that's it. But it was delicious! I had two all by themselves and really enjoyed them. Apparently, the preservation process makes the edgy/hot garlic taste much milder and easy to pop into the mouth and eat raw. This jogged my memory to several months ago when we originally harvested our very first garlic crop. Our friend, Mrs. Bowman, had commented that she preserves her garlic cloves in cider vinegar, honey and salt. When her husband had a case of swine flu, eating a couple of cloves a day kept her healthy to be able to care for him.


For some reason, our 2012 garlic harvest just didn't cure correctly and most of it was unusable (that's another blog post altogether). So when the local market had a great sale on garlic I "pounced" and bought a bunch to preserve using apple cider vinegar:

Preserving Garlic - Bowl of Garlic Bulbs


So, we separated the cloves from the bulbs and peeled them completely. Before I go on I should mention that in order to retain the full health benefits of garlic you should leave them whole and not cut or crush them when preparing for preservation. There is a component in garlic called allicin that provides its health benefits and is released when the clove is crushed or cut open. So you will want to leave the clove whole until eaten if possible:

Preserving Garlic - Peeled Garlic Cloves


I included this picture because one of the ladies here, Shannon, always puts such great, artistic, professional pics on her blog so I thought I'd try it. :)

Preserving Garlic - Peeled Garlic Cloves Close-up


When we first started experimenting with fermenting garlic, we used a salt brine, and either didn't wait long enough for the garlic to mellow or we just plain made a nasty batch. It tasted awful. Don't get me wrong; using a salt brine is probably a fine way to proceed, and I've included a link to a great and simple recipe here. But in our home we have found that simply immersing the cloves in cheap apple cider vinegar from the store is the quickest and cheapest way to preserve garlic and have it taste great. And there is lots of room for experimentation with herbs and seasonings, but I like to keep things ultra simple. Like Mrs. Bowman, you can add honey and salt as well. Raw, organic apple cider vinegar with what is called "the mother," like Bragg's, is a a prebiotic, a naturally fermented food, which supports and feeds the probiotics existing in the flora of our gut, contributing to a healthier and synergistic environment in the body. But for preserving purposes we use the cheap stuff because it can get pricey otherwise.

One of our readers has provided clarification since I first posted this, in that, you achieve lacto-fermented garlic when you place the cloves in a salt brine solution. When you preserve garlic in vinegar, it basically is a pickling process. In either case, you are preserving the powerful benefits of the garlic.

Now pay attention, it gets REAAALLLLY tricky! We put the peeled, whole garlic cloves into a pint jar........

Preserving Garlic - Garlic Cloves in Jars


Covered to one inch head space with cheap apple cider vinegar......then closed it up with the lid and screw top. Ummmmm, THAT'S IT!!

Preserving Garlic - Garlic Cloves in Apple Cider Vinegar


Mrs. Bowman said the cloves would turn blue (or green, Dave says my sense of color is kinda wacky :) ) And then after a couple weeks, after they turn white again, they are good to eat. I'm glad she said that because these started turning blue-green within a day or so, and I might have thought there was something wrong; but, apparently, it's quite normal.

Here are the cloves after one day:

Preserving Garlic - Garlic Cloves in Apple Cider Vinegar On Day One


And on day two:

Preserving Garlic - Garlic Cloves in Apple Cider Vinegar On Day Two


Again on day three:

Preserving Garlic - Garlic Cloves in Apple Cider Vinegar On Day Three


Day five:

Preserving Garlic - Garlic Cloves in Apple Cider Vinegar On Day Five


And finally on day seven:

Preserving Garlic - Garlic Cloves in Apple Cider Vinegar On Day Seven


You can see there is an interaction dance that takes place between the acidity in the vinegar and the garlic. Then after several days at room temperature, you can move the jars to continue aging in a cool, dark, dry place like a cellar or cool room in the house. It seems that the longer it is left, the more mellow the taste. You'll probably want to wait at least 2-3 weeks before eating, but you can experiment with time and ingredients in order to find out your personal preferred taste.

I pulled a jar from the root cellar that I prepped in February of this year, and this is what it looks like after about 3+ months. William decided he wanted to do his Vanna White impression and "present" the garlic:

Preserving Garlic - Garlic Cloves in Apple Cider Vinegar After Three Months


Dave and I have been trying to eat a clove every day with supper (sometimes I forget, but we average probably five a week). At first he was the only one eating them, and I was kind of eyeing him when he wasn't looking to see if he got sick or keeled over dead. He was the royal food tester and didn't know it. :) But he loved the taste, AND I noticed with delight that there is something in garlic preserved this way that does not create a lingering odor on the breath. You can sometimes smell it when the person is eating it, but that's about it. There don't seem to be ANY lingering breath issues!

So, we either just eat a whole clove with supper, or I cut them up and put them in our salads or other dishes (delicious!)

I am very excited with the health possibilities this provides. In my research, I have found that garlic is purported to have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant properties, is effective in lowering blood pressure as well as bad cholesterol, and also provides a great general boost to the immune system. I suggest you do your own research, but Dave and I have not been sick this past flu season -- I'm just sayin! (There was a day this past winter where I could tell something was trying to get at me like a cold or flu. But it just never materialized. It just kind of phhhtttffft out. I was feeling a little taxed for a day or so, but nothing serious came of it like having to miss any work or go lie down, etc.)

This is one of those cheap, easy, natural and healthy ways to keep your immune system in better shape. I would encourage you to try it! You can even use any kind of glass jar with a lid (peanut butter, mayo, etc.)

As always, we are so thankful to God for providing everything we need for good health found in His creation. And for granting us this information so we may continue to pursue a sustaining lifestyle with His help.

Susan

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing. Ithrew some hole cloves in with other vegies to roast and they were delicious, have you tried that.Blessings to you both Marie from down under

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hello Marie, and thanks for your comment! I haven't fixed roasted garlic but it sounds delicious and I hope to try it in the near future.

Susan

bayougirl said...

Thanks for the great recipe. I have quite a bit of garlic planted this year, and this seems like an easy way to preserve it.

Emmanuel Renaud said...

Hello David and Susan!

I really enjoyed your garlic experienced. I just fermented some garlic, anise and clove in pure water, so before using them I wanted to know if anyone had made anything like that before and I found your fermentation garlic blog page.

I wish you the best of health. Walk bare foot as much as you can. This is very healthy.

Emmanuel Renaud

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hello Mr. Renaud!

We're glad you enjoyed our blog post, and thank you for taking the time to comment!

We hope your fermentation endeavors are successful.

Susan

Anonymous said...

Does the garlic have vinegar taste to it after this process? Can you use it in recipes as called for per clove of garlic or is the taste/texture too different? Thanks so much for sharing!

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hi Anonymous!

In my opinion, the cider vinegar gives the garlic a real tangy, kind of pickled taste after fermenting. I have not used it in place of garlic cloves in cooking recipes; only in cold dishes like on salads and in rice. It does still taste like garlic, though. I have read that you may lose some of the benefits if you expose it to high heat. So you may want to add it to your recipe (ie: soups, etc.) after the heat has been turned off or add upon serving the dish.

Thanks for your comment!

Susan

Jeanmarie said...

I love the photos of blue garlic! Amazing.

Your garlic preserved in apple cider vinegar is certainly pickled, but it is not fermented, despite the fact that ACV is itself a fermented product. It is still a marvelous, healthful product, but it is not fermented. A brine will allow lactic acid fermentation to occur. I'm sorry you didn't have a good experience with it. I ferment mine in brine on the counter for a couple of weeks. After that the jar goes into the fridge, and they continue to mellow over time. I might try your method of vinegar pickling sometime to compare. Thanks again for the lovely photos! Best wishes.

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hello Jeanmarie!

Thank you so much for your comment! I greatly appreciate your gracious correction and supportive comments. I have updated the blog post to reflect your clarification. And you have given me courage to try lacto-fermenting again :)

Thanks again for sharing!

Susan

Anonymous said...

hi do u also drink a tablespoon of the apple cider vinegar or do u reused the vinger after all the garlic is finished thanks I.j

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hello l.j! Thank you for your question. My husband likes to take a few swallows of the apple cider vinegar after all the garlic has been used. I imagine it is full of good nutrients for your body but I don't usually do anything with it afterwards. Now that you mention it, maybe I should start pouring it on salads as a kind of salad dressing along with olive oil. Hey, thank you for helping me to think of that as a way to better utilize the vinegar! I appreciate it!

I hope that answers your question. If not, please write back and I'll try to get the right information to you.

Thanks!

Susan

Irritated Farmer said...

Hey there, thanks for this information. I'm in the process of doing this and I decided to do a little more research. Everything about preserving garlic in this manner on the web says that the garlic will only keep 3-4 months preserved this way. How long has your kept, and have you had any issues with mold forming on the top? I have a tough time keeping garlic through the winter as it always seems to shrivel up to nothing when I store like everyone tells me to. Have you any tips for keeping garlic?

Alan

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hello Irritated Farmer :)

I place our apple cider vinegar immersed garlic in our root cellar and it has lasted several months at least with no problems whatsoever. Perhaps we're using it before it develops any mold issues but my personal opinion is that it would last a very long time.

I've not yet been successful in preserving garlic as-is from the garden. Even after I hang it to cure, much of it shrivels up and gets moldy so I haven't cracked that nut yet. I'm sorry I don't have any good tips for you there. Our harvest is small enough we just go the apple cider vinegar route.

If you do decide to preserve your garlic cloves with apple cider vinegar, I'd love to hear how it turns out!

Thanks for saying Hi and let us know if we may be of any additional assistance.

Susan

Irritated Farmer said...

Thanks for the reply. I'm trying your way, but I'm just using cheap white vinegar and some cheap distilled cider vinegar. I'm processing them as I have time and I've got a couple of pints that are turning blue. I've done a couple of qts. this morning, one in white vinegar and one is cider vinegar.
I should be able to prevent the garlic hanging from frying as I'm not it TX any more. That TX summer heat is brutal and I'm sure that plays a part in ruining the shriveling the garlic.
Thanks and ya'll take care!

Irritated Farmer said...

An update on the garlic. I found a a jar from last year and the garlic hasn't changed. It tastes and feels the same as last year. I think this is a long term storage method for garlic. What can we now do with the left over vinegar?

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hello Irritated Farmer!

Thanks so much for taking the time to write back and provide an update. I see it's been almost exactly a year! I'm very glad to hear your garlic is holding up to the test of time. I haven't really thought of it as a long term storage method but it sounds like a great option if you are wanting to process a lot of garlic at one time. That's great to know!

With regard to the vinegar brine, I imagine there are good properties in it to be able to drink it straight, put it on salads or in salad dressing, put it in as flavoring in dishes. Lots of things! Please let us know if you come up with any more ideas - much appreciated!

Susan

Anonymous said...

I made these fermented garlic and just ate my first one. My question is how do I store them once I have opened the jar? I need to know soonish (lol) because they are opened now. Thank you for the recipe.... I am and will continue to make and enjoy them :)

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hello Anonymous!

Thanks very much for writing. That's a great question! I had to think about it for a minute. I'll just tell you my experience and you can make your own decision as to how you would like to proceed. I usually preserve garlic in pint jars and it doesn't take a long time to go through it. However, I have never put it in the fridge after opening it and it always seems fine. I have one jar on the counter right now that has been opened and not used in a long time and it is fine. So, if you are in doubt, feel free to do what is needed for your peace of mind. Or you could experiment and see what happens.

I hope that helps!

Susan

Anonymous said...

Thank you...so far I have left them in my cupboard. I only made a batch with one bulb of garlic as I was experimenting and wanted to try them first. I am the only one in my family that will eat them,but my next batch will be a whole pint. I may put those in the fridge just so I won't have to worry about it! Thanks for answering my question and for posting this easy fermentation recipe. Others I have read are far too complicated for me.
Carrie

Attic Stairs said...

So happy to find this blog post. All of the information I've found online concerning pickling garlic seems only to warn of the horrible dangers of doing so. So thought I'd share my experience...

I learned of this simple preservation method from elderly Persian friends. At first I was not pleased with the brown lumps of garlic that were placed on my plate with dinners in their home but eventually came to love them and in no time was making my own.
And yes, I said BROWN! You see when they preserve their garlic it is put away for 5 to 7 years before being opened for use. What is more life-affirming than planning a meal 7 years in advance!!

My preferred vinegar is red wine... gives a taste like no other.

I've made huge jars-full at a time (gallon and above) and seven years down the line I open and reopen the jar with no worries or refrigeration required (but always follow your own good instincts!). I often keep (and replace often) plastic wrap between the lid and the jar to keep away any issues with metal lids, and as the years progress during aging you may need to add a bit of vinegar to keep the garlic completely covered. That would be my one warning, keep the garlic well submerged.
This last year we finally finished a jar I made in the early 90s!! 20+ years and perfect to the last drop. Once it has aged completely it is more like a wonderful garlic chutney. Just beautiful.
My favourite dish with the garlic is a simple olive oil-fried, saffron basmati rice topped with feta cheese and the garlic/vinegar; fabulous with heaps of fresh parsley and walnuts on the side or perhaps a chicken kebab. The remaining vinegar is great in salad dressings (a tbsp or so at a time! It's heady stuff.) or as a flavouring in dishes, though not a replacement for fresh garlic by any means.

Hope this adds to your possibilities and answers some questions regarding long-term storage.

David and Susan Sifford said...

Wowsers!!!! Thank you, Attic Stairs, for all of that really great information! It is very helpful and I look forward to implementing a lot of it. And I'm sure the others who are notified of this comment will appreciate it as well.

Thank you very much for taking the time to share! Much appreciated!!

Susan