Homemade fermented garlic paste

I love garlic! Its powerful aroma is magical. You can eat it raw to enjoy its bold and spicy flavor, or you can cook it to reveal a more subtle and sweeter flavor. Garlic can certainly elevate your favorite dishes!

Garlic is native to Central Asia. It is highly nutritious, and is well known to boost your health in many ways. For me, I just love its aroma and taste.

Since I love garlic, I use several cloves almost every time I cook. The peeling, slicing, dicing, and mincing of fresh garlic cloves can be very time consuming, which makes prepping for meals more tiring and less fun. Wouldn’t it be nice if I always had some homemade garlic paste on hand?

It can take quite a while to prepare a batch of garlic paste, so how can you make the most out of it? The answer is fermentation! Fresh garlic paste wouldn’t last very long before going bad, but fermented garlic paste can last up to a year in the refrigerator.

Homemade fermented garlic paste is actually very simple and straight-forward to make. All you need is 2 ingredients: garlic and salt. Other than the ingredients, you do need to invest time, patience, and love into this product. You will understand why I said that after you read the instructions for making it. But don’t give up yet!! The delicious and super convenient end product will have you coming back to make it again and again.


Homemade fermented garlic paste

Kitchen instrument of the day: Cuisinart 9-cup food processor

Other tools

  • Your precious hands!!
  • Chop board and a pairing knife


  • Garlic
  • Coarse sea salt


1. Set up your work space, because it’s going to get messy when a lot of light feathery garlic peels start flying around. Also, set up some entertainment (music, audio books, or your favorite TV show) because the entire progress can take hours, depending on how many garlic bulbs you have. Now gather all the garlic bulbs together. I have about 48 garlic bulbs this time!

2. Peel the garlic bulbs. Then break down all the garlic bulbs into individual cloves. Each garlic bulb can have more than 10 cloves, so this step will take a little while.

3. Take the skin off each clove. This step can take a while, so take a break every now and then.

4. Cut the root end off each clove, and also cut off any bad spots.

5. Now comes the most tedious part of the entire process — cut each clove in half and take the green sprouts out! If the garlic is fresh and has no sprouts, you are lucky and will save tons of time and energy. Garlic sprouts are safe to eat, but they have a tendency to be bitter.

Look at all the sprouts that came off the garlic cloves!

6. Put the garlic cloves and coarse sea salt in the food processor. Use about 2 teaspoons of coarse sea salt for 6-8 bulbs of garlic. You may need to do it in 2-3 batches if you have a lot of garlic or a small food processor.

7. Puree the garlic cloves and coarse sea salt until they become a smooth paste. Scrape the sides of the food processor down from time to time to ensure a consistent texture. If you like your paste chunkier, puree it less.

8. Transfer the garlic paste into jars with a tight seal. Try to press the garlic paste down as tight as possible to get everything below the small amount of brine that has developed – this salty brine will inhibit bacteria growth.

9. Tightly close the lid and put all the jars in the refrigerator.

10. Leave the garlic paste to slowly ferment in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks. When the garlic paste is fermented, its taste becomes milder than when it was raw. You can certainly start using the garlic paste right away, but its taste will be sharper.

Final notes

  • I have tried different methods to prepare the garlic cloves, and concluded that the method above works the best for me. “Garlic juice” is very sticky and garlic peels/skins are so light, which makes my hands covered in peels/skins very fast. I have to frequently wash my hands before I can peel some more. Smashing or cutting the ends off the garlic cloves releases “garlic juice” right away, making the peeling process more difficult. The smashing process works well when you only have a few cloves, but not several hundred cloves. That’s why I like to peel all the skins off the garlic cloves before cutting them.
  • Sometimes the fermented garlic paste can turn greenish blue. It’s completely normal due to natural chemical reactions when garlic reacts to heat or acid. The change in color doesn’t affect its edibility or taste.
  • I have made a batch of fermented elephant garlic paste, and noticed it had a much milder aroma and flavor. Elephant garlic is actually not a true garlic. It’s more like a type of garden leek with a bulb shaped like a giant garlic.

Every time after I put a spoonful of garlic paste into a dish, I just can’t resist licking the rest of the garlic off the spoon because the homemade fermented garlic paste can be as sweet as a dessert! Try it and you might like it!

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