Is it Pickling or Fermenting?

Is it Pickling or Fermenting?


So I decided to pickle some garlic. But then I decided that I meant ferment it. Then I decided to look up recipes and got myself completely confused! In the end I ended up pickling the garlic and added some red pepper in, which made it very pretty but I do not like the flavor it added. After all of this, I decided I needed to research what the heck is the difference between pickling and fermenting. I discovered a few things:

1. Not all pickling = fermenting and Not all fermenting = pickling. Pickling involves some type of acidic medium, usually vinegar. Fermenting uses filtered water, salt and your starter. All living things have lactobacilli on their surface. It is this bacteria that proliferates during fermentation creating lactic acid. Lactic acid not only ferments and thus pickles your veggies, but is super healthy. More on that in a bit. Basically though, to pickle you need vinegar or something and a bit of heat or pressure. The products are not fermented though. To ferment, you need starter (with lactobacilli), salt and filtered water, producing lactic acid. These products are both fermented and pickled. I still have to repeat this to myself to keep it straight.

2. For garlic, you want to ferment it. Because pickling often involves cooking the garlic at least somewhat and also sugar, it is not the healthiest choice. Cooking the garlic causes it to lose a lot of its naturally occurring nutrients, while fermenting preserves them.  I am borrowing this next bit from The Healthy Home Economist, a great source of info.

Fermenting has the following benefits:

  • Enhances the vitamin content of the food.
  • Preserves and sometimes enhances the enzyme content of the food.
  • Improves nutrient bio-availability in the body.
  • Improves the digestibility of the food and even cooked foods that are consumed along with it!

Additionally, fermented garlic does not cause you to reek of garlic when eaten every day. Which you want to do because it has amazing health benefits, including boosting your immunity and lowering your cholesterol and improving circulation. I plan to add another article on the amazing powers of Garlic in the near future. For now, I am just learning about pickling it vs fermenting it. Definitely FERMENT your Garlic for the healthiest results.