You might already know that garlic is positively wonderful on almost any dish. But have you heard of fermented garlic? These preserved garlic cloves have been shown to deliver powerful health benefits.
When it comes to health benefits, fermented garlic belongs on any list that includes powerhouses like apple cider vinegar and raw honey. Read on to learn more.
Fermentation And Probiotic Bacteria
Fermented garlic, as the name implies, comes from the process of fermentation. A pickle is basically a pickled cucumber that sits in a glass jar filled with salt brine for a few days. The “pickling” occurs through fermentation. Garlic is treated in a similar way.
Fermenting foods stimulates bacterial activity. Now, these aren’t harmful bacteria. These are beneficial bacteria, also known as probiotics.
Probiotic, fermented foods include kombucha, sourdough bread, sauerkraut, and many others.
Here’s the thing: when you eat probiotic foods (as opposed to using specially designed supplements), they’re exposed to your stomach acid, which has a low pH level (between 1 and 2). This can make it almost impossible for any probiotic bacteria to survive, much less offer any benefits to your digestive system.
However, a specific type of probiotic known as lactic acid bacteria can withstand the damaging effects of stomach acid.1,2
How Does Fermented Garlic Differ From Raw Garlic?
Fermented garlic is, in a nutshell, raw garlic that is fermented at both high humidity and at room temperature for a certain amount of time. It has a much higher nutritional value than raw garlic. This is due to the antioxidants and beneficial bacteria that are stimulated during the fermentation process.
When it comes to taste, fermented garlic cloves don’t have the distinctive sharp flavor of raw garlic – they taste sweeter. They’re also chewy, while raw garlic cloves are crispier.3
The fermentation process may turn the cloves black. It can also affect the smell. Fermented garlic doesn’t have the pungent aroma of garlic that hasn’t gone through fermentation. It smells more like roasted garlic instead.4
How Can Fermented Garlic Cloves Benefit Your Health?
There is evidence that fermented garlic cloves can benefit health in several different ways.
The Power Of Antioxidants
Antioxidants counteract the effect of free radicals – molecules produced through the process of oxidation. The problem with free radicals is that they can damage tissues and cells.5 Consuming healthy foods and drinks that contain antioxidants can help the body fight free radicals.
As it turns out, fermented garlic is chock full of antioxidants.
In fact, one study found that it’s higher in antioxidants than fresh raw garlic.6
Another study found that when fresh cloves of raw garlic are aged for 35 days, the antioxidant content skyrockets. It appears that fermented garlic reaches its peak antioxidant content on the 21st day of fermentation.7
Supporting The Immune System
Your immune system is your body’s defense against infection and illness. It appears that fermented garlic helps strengthen the immune system through its antioxidant content. In one study, researchers found that fermented is more powerful than raw garlic in supporting immunity.8
Supporting Heart Health
Fermented garlic may also help support healthy levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, known as “good” cholesterol. Participants in a three-month study saw increased HDL levels after consuming 6 grams of fermented garlic two times a day before meals.9
There is also evidence that fermented-style garlic might help support healthy blood pressure. It appears that a certain compound in fermented garlic, organosulfur, relaxes blood vessels, which may lead to substantially lower blood pressure as a result.11
It appears that amino acids in garlic, such as arginine, also play a role in supporting healthy blood vessels.
An Easy Way To Ferment Garlic
You can easily find a lot of recipes for how to use garlic on the Internet. You can mix minced garlic with olive oil and lemon juice to make a fantastic salad dressing, or mix it into garlic paste to spread on bread. There are recipes involving garlic and lemon juice, vinegar and many other ingredients.
But how do you go about fermenting garlic? Here’s how.
You’ll first need to gather 12 or 14 fresh, raw garlic bulbs, which are also known as garlic scapes. Heat them in an oven at 200°F until the skins on the cloves loosen. Peel off the skin and put the heads into a metal pot. With the lid on the pot, shake vigorously for a couple of minutes until the covers of the cloves come off.
Put the peeled cloves in a glass jar. Then add a quart of water (filtered water or tap water should work fine) and two tablespoons of sea salt. You can add some oregano or basil if you like. This will create a brine to ferment the garlic. Then seal the jar of brine using the lid.
Keep the garlic in the jar for about three to four weeks at room temperature, and then put it in your fridge. The longer you keep the fermented garlic cold, the better it will taste when you eat it.12
If you like, you can turn your fresh, fermented garlic into a garlic paste. The garlic paste is excellent for infusing flavor into almost any dish you make. Or, you can eat it straight. You could also mix it up with other ingredients in a food processor to add some flavour to just about any type of food. However you use it, it’s going to taste great.
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