Lacto-fermented (pickled) garlic cloves

Garlic Bulbs, Cloves

Garlic Bulbs, Cloves

By Cat, Sept 2016 (Photo, right, form Wikimedia Commons)

I had a huge crop of garlic this year, more than I can use, I gave a bunch to a neighbor, and have decided to pickle a quart by lacto-fermentation in a salt brine (rather than in vinegar then canning). Lacto-fermenting veggies preserves them without canning, thus retaining all the nutrients of the product.

See also:1.  Culturing, Curing, Fermenting Menu; 2. Pickling and Lacto-Fermentation (About); 3. Pickled (Lacto-Fermented) Onions

Pickled Garlic

Pickle-it Jar

Pickle-it Jar

Photo, right, from Pickl-It (2)

This recipe is adapted from Delicious Obsessions (1). She uses anaerobic jars – that keep oxygen out but allow carbon dioxide to escape. Mason jars are popular for facto-fermenting, but their lids do not seal (except with heat or pressure of canning), and are thus aerobic. The anaerobic jars (2, 3, 4) have a rubber gasket and clamp to seal the lid, and an airlock in the lid, to allow any CO2 to escape. You can convert your Mason jar with a kit (4, 5).
See my post Pickling and Lacto-Fermentation (About) for more.

See also The Spruce (8); that method uses a regular mason jar, which is what I use until I get an anaerobic jar.

Minimum fermentation time: 1 month; you will get even better flavor if you continue to ferment for 1-2 months more. NOTE: If fermenting in an anaerobic jar, you cannot take out just one clove to taste if it’s ready, as that will introduce oxygen, so you must rely on the amount of time in the ferment.

If fermented properly, and kept in cold storage (root cellar or fridge), it will keep about 1 year. However, it’s so good that it probably won’t need that much time…

Ingredients & Equipment

  • Organic, or organically grown garlic bulbs, preferably ones you’ve grown yourself
  • Kosher salt or unrefined sea salt. DO NOT USE IODIZED SALT
  • filtered water
  • Equipment
  • Pickling jar with airlock (see above)
  • glass/ceramic bowl
  • Weight (this must be able to go past neck of the jar)


  1. Determine how much garlic is needed for your jar: Separate cloves from root/stem of bulb, then remove dried peel from each clove. See 1 minute YouTube video from Saveur (6) (below)  for a very quick way to remove the peels.
  2. Place cloves in clean pickling jar, gently packing them together. Do not fill above shoulder of jar.
  3. Determine amount of brine that is needed: pour filtered water over cloves in jar to shoulder of jar, keeping track of how much you added.
  4. Determine amount of salt needed for the brine, based on amount of water. You want a 2% brine (19 grams per quart/liter of water, or 6 grams per cup).  You can use the handy calculator on Pickl-it, following instructions provided. See also Fermentation Recipes (7) for more about calculating salt for brines. I don’t advise using teaspoons/tablespoons to measure the salt as the different kinds of salt (table, Kosher, unrefined sea salt, etc.) require different spoon measurements due to size of salt granules.
  5. Prepare salt brine: pour water back out of the jar into bowl. Add predetermined amount of salt and stir until it is all dissolved.
  6. Add your weight (to keep garlic submerged) and pour brine over garlic until it reaches the shoulder of the jar.
  7. If using an airlock: Add airlock, set rubber gasket on top of jar and close the lid. If you don’t have an airlock, put the lid on the jar loosely.
  8. If not using an airlock:  Screw lid on jar, loosely. Open it once a day to reduce pressure caused by fermentation.
  9. Wrap/cover with a towel to keep out light — fermentation doesn’t do well if exposed to UV light. It takes awhile for fermentation to start (up to a week); you will notice tiny bubbles in the brine.
  10. Leave at room temperature for one month, checking airlock occasionally to be sure it doesn’t dry up.
  11. Storage: Move jar to cold storage (root cellar below 50F, or refrigerator) for two more months, for best flavor. It will keep at least a year if stored in a cool place.
  12. Save some of the brine to use as starter for other fermentation products or another batch of fermented garlic. You need about 2 – 3 Tbsp per quart of product (1 – 2 Tbsp per pint).
  13. Delicious Obsessions adds the following note: “If your garlic turns blue or green, don’t be alarmed! The color change happens when the anthocyanins and/or the sulfur compounds react with the acidity or minerals in the water. Many times, it’s the reaction of the garlic to copper in the water…” (1)

Peeling garlic video (6)


  1. © Delicious Obsessions
  2. Pickl-it:; brine calculator:
  3. The Probiotic Jar:
  4. Go-Ferment!:
  5. FARMcurious:
  6. Video:
  7. Fermentation Recipes on salt brine:
  8. The Spruce recipe:

About Cat

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