Unveiling the Magic of Garlic Preservation: History, Techniques, and Culinary Delights

Garlic Through History

Garlic, with its pungent aroma and distinctive flavor, has a history as rich and varied as the civilizations that have cultivated it. Tracing its origins back thousands of years, garlic’s journey through history reveals its enduring significance in culture, medicine, and cuisine.

Origins and Early Cultivation: The story of garlic begins in ancient times, where it was first cultivated in the region encompassing modern-day Iran and Central Asia. Early civilizations, including the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Chinese, recognized the value of garlic and incorporated it into their daily lives.

Egyptian Civilization: Among the ancient civilizations, the Egyptians held garlic in particularly high regard. Garlic bulbs were not only consumed as food but also revered for their perceived medicinal properties. Archaeological evidence, such as garlic bulbs found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun, indicates that garlic was an essential part of Egyptian society, both in life and in the afterlife. It was believed to provide strength and endurance to laborers, and its presence in tombs symbolized protection and preservation.

Greek and Roman Influence: In ancient Greece and Rome, garlic was also revered for its medicinal properties. Greek physician Hippocrates, often referred to as the “Father of Medicine,” prescribed garlic for a variety of ailments, ranging from digestive issues to respiratory infections. Garlic was also used by Roman soldiers to boost their strength and immunity during long campaigns.

Chinese Tradition: In China, garlic held a prominent place in traditional medicine and culinary practices. The Chinese believed that garlic could ward off evil spirits and promote longevity. It was commonly used in medicinal concoctions to treat various illnesses and was also prized for its culinary versatility.

Medicinal and Culinary Significance: Throughout history, garlic has been celebrated not only for its culinary appeal but also for its medicinal properties. It was believed to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties, making it a valuable remedy for infections and illnesses. Garlic was also used to alleviate digestive issues, reduce inflammation, and promote overall health.

Historical Uses and Symbolism: Beyond its practical applications, garlic held symbolic significance in many cultures. It was often associated with protection, purification, and vitality. Garlic bulbs were hung in doorways or worn as charms to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune. In folklore and mythology, garlic featured prominently as a talisman against vampires, demons, and other supernatural beings.

Conclusion: The history of garlic is a testament to its enduring legacy as a staple ingredient in human civilization. From ancient times to the present day, garlic has transcended cultural boundaries, leaving an indelible mark on culinary traditions, medicinal practices, and folklore around the world. Its journey through history reflects not only its culinary versatility and medicinal properties but also its symbolic significance as a symbol of strength, protection, and vitality.

Types of Garlic Preservation

Garlic, known for its intense flavor and aromatic properties, lends itself well to various preservation techniques that not only extend its shelf life but also enhance its taste and culinary versatility. From sweet and savory to tangy and umami-rich, different preservation methods unlock a spectrum of flavors and textures, making preserved garlic a culinary delight.

Cheong (Korean Sweet Garlic): Cheong, a traditional Korean preservation method, transforms ordinary garlic cloves into a delectable delicacy with a perfect balance of sweetness and savory undertones. The process involves simmering garlic cloves in a mixture of sugar or Honey and other seasonings until they become tender and caramelized. The resulting cheong boasts a glossy appearance and a melt-in-your-mouth texture, making it a popular accompaniment to rice, meats, or as a standalone snack.


  • 1 cup garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup honey (or sugar)


  1. Prepare the Garlic:
    • Begin by peeling the garlic cloves. Ensure that all cloves are intact and free of blemishes or damage.
  2. Prepare the Seal:
    • Measure out honey or sugar equal to the weight of the garlic. For example, if you have 1 cup of garlic cloves, use 1 cup of honey or sugar.
  3. Combine the Ingredients:
    • Place the peeled garlic cloves in a clean, sterilized glass jar or airtight container.
    • Pour the honey or sugar over the garlic cloves, ensuring they are fully submerged and covered. If using sugar, gently shake or stir the jar to coat the garlic evenly.
  4. Create the Seal:
    • Ensure that the garlic is completely covered by the honey or sugar, leaving no air pockets. This seal will help preserve the garlic and allow the flavors to meld.
  5. Completion:
    • After 6 months, the garlic will be fully fermented and transformed into Cheong. The garlic cloves will have absorbed the sweetness, becoming tender and caramelized.

Black Garlic: Black garlic, prized for its unique flavor profile and health benefits, undergoes a slow conservation process that transforms raw garlic cloves into dark, caramelized bulbs. This transformation occurs through a combination of controlled heat and humidity over several weeks, resulting in garlic with a sweet, molasses-like taste and a soft, jelly-like texture. Black garlic is celebrated for its complex umami flavor, which lends itself well to a variety of culinary applications, including sauces, marinades, and spreads.


  • Whole garlic bulbs (as many as will fit comfortably in your yogurt maker)
  • Aluminum foil or parchment paper


  1. Prepare the Garlic:
    • Remove any loose outer layers of the garlic bulbs but leave the bulbs and the individual cloves within their skins intact. Do not peel the cloves.
  2. Wrap the Garlic:
    • Wrap each garlic bulb individually in aluminum foil or parchment paper. Ensure they are completely covered to maintain moisture during the preservation process.
  3. Place in Yogurt Maker:
    • Arrange the wrapped garlic bulbs in the yogurt maker. Ensure they are not overcrowded and that there is enough space for air to circulate around each bulb.
  4. Set the Temperature:
    • Set your yogurt maker to maintain a consistent temperature of around 55-65°C. If your yogurt maker has a set temperature for yogurt making, this typically falls within this range and should be suitable.
  5. Preservation Process:
    • Allow the garlic to caramelize in the yogurt maker for approximately 2-3 weeks. The exact time may vary based on the temperature and the size of the garlic bulbs. During this time, the garlic will gradually turn black and develop a sweet, tangy flavor.
    • It’s essential to keep the yogurt maker running continuously without interruption throughout the process. Check the garlic bulbs occasionally to monitor their progress, but avoid unwrapping them too frequently.
  6. Completion:
    • After 2-3 weeks, the garlic should be black, soft, and have a sweet, slightly tangy flavor. Unwrap one bulb to check for doneness. The cloves should be dark brown to black and tender to the touch.
  7. Cool and Store:
    • Once the garlic is fully transformed, allow it to cool to room temperature.
    • Store the black garlic in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can be kept for up to several months.

Dried and Smoked Garlic:
Drying and smoking are preservation techniques that impart depth and richness to garlic while extending its shelf life. Dried garlic cloves are concentrated in flavor, with a slightly sweeter taste and a chewy texture. Smoking garlic adds a distinct smokiness that enhances its natural pungency, creating a robust flavor profile that complements grilled meats, stews, and sauces. Both dried and smoked garlic can be finely minced or powdered for use as a seasoning or spice blend, adding depth and complexity to dishes.

Fermented Garlic: Fermentation unlocks the full potential of garlic, infusing it with tangy acidity and complex umami flavors. During fermentation, garlic cloves are submerged in a brine solution and left to ferment over several weeks or months. This process not only preserves the garlic but also breaks down its sugars and carbohydrates, resulting in a tangy, slightly sour taste and a soft, spreadable texture. Fermented garlic adds depth and richness to dishes, from soups and salads to stir-fries and condiments.


  • Fresh garlic cloves (peeled)
  • Non-chlorinated water (filtered or distilled)
  • Sea salt or kosher salt (non-iodized)


  • Glass jar with a tight-fitting lid
  • Small weight or a clean rock (to keep garlic submerged)
  • Fermentation airlock (optional but recommended)


  1. Prepare the Garlic:
    • Peel the garlic cloves. If you want to speed up the fermentation process, you can slightly crush the cloves, but whole cloves work well too.
  2. Make the Brine:
    • Dissolve 40gr of salt in 1l of water. This ratio creates a 4% salt brine, which is ideal for fermenting garlic.
  3. Pack the Jar:
    • Place the peeled garlic cloves into the glass jar, leaving about an inch of headspace at the top.
    • Pour the saltwater brine over the garlic cloves, ensuring they are completely submerged. If necessary, use a small weight or a clean rock to keep the garlic cloves under the brine.
  4. Seal the Jar:
    • Seal the jar with a tight-fitting lid. If you have a fermentation airlock, attach it to the jar to allow gases to escape while preventing contaminants from entering. If you don’t have an airlock, you can open the jar slightly every few days to release built-up gases (burping the jar).
  5. Fermentation Process:
    • Place the jar in a cool, dark place with a stable temperature of around 15-20°C (60-68°F). Let the garlic ferment for 1 to 2 weeks.
    • Check the garlic every few days to ensure it remains submerged and to monitor the fermentation process. You should see bubbles forming, indicating active fermentation.
  6. Taste Test:
    • After 1-2 weeks, taste a clove to check the flavor. It should have a tangy, slightly sour taste with a mild garlic flavor. If you prefer a stronger flavor, you can let it ferment longer.
  7. Storage:
    • Once the garlic reaches your desired flavor, transfer the jar to the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process. Fermented garlic can be stored in the fridge for up to several months.

Why Garlic Turns Blue:

During the fermentation process, garlic can sometimes turn blue or green. This color change is due to a reaction between the sulfur compounds in garlic and trace amounts of minerals, particularly copper, which can be present in the garlic itself, the brine, or the equipment used. When these compounds react, they form copper sulfate, which can give the garlic a blue or green hue.

Is Blue Garlic Safe to Eat?

Yes, garlic that turns blue during fermentation is safe to eat. The color change is purely cosmetic and does not affect the safety or taste of the garlic. The flavor remains the same, and the garlic retains its beneficial properties.

Armenian Garlic Conserved in Vinegar: Armenian garlic conserved in vinegar offers a bold and tangy twist on traditional garlic preservation. In this method, garlic cloves are submerged in vinegar, infusing them with a sharp, acidic flavor that complements their natural pungency. The vinegar not only preserves the garlic but also enhances its taste, making it a zesty addition to salads, pickles, and marinades. Armenian garlic conserved in vinegar provides a burst of flavor that brightens up dishes and adds a refreshing tanginess to any meal.

Conclusion: The diverse array of garlic preservation techniques showcased in this segment highlights the ingenuity and creativity of culinary traditions around the world. From the sweet and savory delights of cheong to the complex umami flavors of black garlic, each preservation method offers a unique culinary experience, inviting exploration and experimentation in the kitchen. Whether used as a condiment, seasoning, or standalone dish, preserved garlic adds depth, richness, and complexity to a wide range of culinary creations, making it a cherished ingredient in global cuisine.