Looking for Something to Do While You’re Stuck at Home? Here’s How to Ferment Garlic in Honey

By Liz Ellis

March 31, 2020

Photo by Team Voyas on Unsplash.

While you’re stuck at home during the pandemic, why not take a few minutes to start a science experiment and make something delicious at the same time?

Fermented honey garlic requires just three things that you most likely already have at home, so no perilous shopping trip required. You just need raw, unfiltered honey (local is best), peeled garlic cloves and a Mason jar.

All you need is some good honey, garlic and a Mason jar. Photo by Liz Ellis.

You need to wait at least three days to let the garlic ferment, and letting it go for longer is even better. Don’t let that dissuade you, though — the process is so much fun to observe that you’ll have fun just watching the science happen. If you’re self-quarantining with kids, this could be a fun and easy science experiment to pass the time while maybe even sharing a chemistry lesson.

Even after the fermentation slows down and you notice fewer bubbles, you can keep the ferment going at room temperature for at least a week or two. The honey will continue to get thinner, and the flavor will become increasingly deep and complex. The garlic will become more and more mellow as the fermentation chemically “cooks” it. Once you can tell that the bacteria have feasted on most of the available sugar, you may choose to top-off your jar with more raw honey to keep those wonderful probiotics happily fed. If you don’t add more honey, I suggest keeping it in the fridge after a week or so — if your little pint of goodness last that long, of course!

The finished product! Photo by Liz Ellis.

Fermented Honey Garlic

  • 1 sterilized pint-size Mason jar with lid
  • 1 - 1½ cups raw, unfiltered honey – local if you have it
  • 1½ cups whole, peeled garlic cloves (if you can find heads with larger cloves, it will make peeling much easier)
  1. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds!
  2. Trim each clove of garlic to remove the stem end as well as any brown spots or bruises.
  3. Place the cloves inside the jar (3/4 of the way up or so), and pour in enough honey to reach about an inch from the lip of the jar.
  4. Using a sanitized chopstick or similarly shaped utensil, stir the cloves and honey to release as many air gaps as possible.
  5. Apply the lid loosely so that the gasses that will be produced by the fermentation can escape.
  6. Place in a dark, dry, room-temperature location, like a cupboard or pantry.
  7. Just let it hang out for a day or two!
  8. When you just can’t handle the anticipation anymore, check in on your jar. First of all, loosen or “burp” the lid to make sure that the excess gas created by the bacteria escapes. Then watch in amazement as the carbon dioxide bubbles ooze up to the surface. Those are how you know your ferment is happy and healthy. Feel free to give your honey a taste at this point, but take care to only use sanitized spoons to prevent contamination.
  9. Continue to check on your jar every day or so to observe the activity and to burp it. Turn the jar upside down once in a while to make sure that all of the cloves become equally saturated.
  10. The product is basically done once the honey has become significantly thinner and the flavor is to your liking.
  11. As mentioned above, you can either add more honey to your jar as you use it and keep the process going – taking care to keep everything very clean – or stick it in the fridge to stop the process all together.
  12. Enjoy your magical elixir!! Try it as-is, drizzle it over veggies or mix it into your favorite recipes!
Honey-garlic is served. Photo by Liz Ellis.

When the honey garlic is ready, both ingredients can be incorporated into limitless recipes. My personal favorite way to use both the honey and the garlic is to throw together a simple vinaigrette for my salad, but I also use both as flavoring for everything from marinades to soup. Just be aware that if the honey and garlic are cooked above 115°F, those precious probiotics will become inactive. Honestly, I dare you not to just grab a spoonful of honey (or a full clove, if you’re more adventurous) as a little pick-me-up whenever you pass by your golden jar of magic.

A Few Health Notes

When I first brought this story idea to our editors, they expressed concern about the dangers of fermentation and the dreaded botulism. I assured them that fermented foods are not at risk of the toxin produced by the botulinus bacteria. As soon as any good bacteria take root and begin to raise the pH of the product, it becomes too acidic for the toxin, which can only thrive at 4.6 or below. In our case, the natural antibacterial properties of both ingredients further ensure a safe product.

DO NOT try to infuse your olive oil with garlic. In that case, none of the safety nets above would apply, and you could very well run the risk of creating an unsafe product.

Also, while there's no evidence honey, garlic or fermented foods can defeat the COVID-19 virus we're all so worried about right now, garlic is a good source of several vitamins and minerals, and there's some evidence that fermented foods are helpful for digestive health.