Black garlic is awesome! Fresh garlic is excellent too. However, the extraordinary, complex, sweet and unique taste of black garlic is very enticing. And once you have got the taste of it, you will be on the irresistible path to the dark side.
What is black garlic?
Most black garlic on the market is produced when fresh garlic is caramelized by warming whole bulbs of garlic for several weeks. This is a break-down process involving slow sugar conversion into other compounds. This results in black cloves with a sweet, syrupy taste. Even though this does not involve fermentation with live bacteria, it’s still very tasty and has many health benefits.
However, there are more health benefits if it’s produced in a fermentation process involving live bacteria. During fermentation, some nutrients are enhanced and new highly beneficial ones are formed. Black garlic contains S-ally-cysteine (SAC) which can lower blood sugar, treat prostate cancer, liver cancer, prevent Alzheimer’s disease and much more.
Fermented black garlic in supplement form is available for those mostly interested in the health benefits. They have packed all the nutrients in capsules.
The intense taste is unique—deep and lingering with notes of dark caramel, fried onions, chocolate, a little bitterness, a little molasses sweetness, and umami (a fifth taste; pleasant savory), plus some acidity. It has a soft, smooth and creamy texture, a bit sticky like dates. And it melts in your mouth. This stuff is not even close to fresh garlic.
How to use it? The complex and delicious taste makes it very easy to use in cooking. Basically, you can use it the same way as roasted garlic.
- The easiest is to serve a few cloves on the side to almost any meal, especially meat dishes.
- Make a puree of the black garlic cloves with oil. The puree makes the tastes more pronounced. Use the puree as a spread on bread or rub it onto meat before roasting. It can also be added in cream based sauces.
- When your pasta is boiled, just before serving, throw in a few cloves of black garlic. It makes simple pasta dishes look and taste really cool.
- When a dull dish is “missing something.” Just add a few cloves and suddenly it tastes amazing.
Buy black garlic
The easiest and fastest way is to buy it. Try RioRand Yuhongyuan Organic Whole Black Garlic. It’s a popular and reliable brand. Very tasty!
You can make black garlic at home too. I’ve done it a few times because I thought it was fun. But it’s a great challenge to create a product that tastes as good as RioRand and others. In any case, try buying it and see if you like it. Then you can decide if you want to prepare your own.
Make black garlic at home
Many people are interested in preparing black garlic themselves so I here include a brief description. I normally use standard garlic, but organic garlic is best.
Though the process looks simple, you need a great deal of patience. Things can easily go wrong and so you cannot be sure you will succeed each time. However, if you succeed it will taste wonderful! This black garlic recipe does not involve fermentation with live bacteria.
To prepare black garlic you need:
- A heat-proof container
- Aluminum foil
- An oven or dehydrator (some use an electric rice boiler)
Step one: Add whole, not peeled garlic bulbs in a container. This container must be safe to use in the oven. It should also be big enough for the amount of garlic you want to prepare.
Step two: Wrap the container with the aluminum foil. Wrap it as tightly as you can to prevent contaminants from getting in and garlic aroma from wafting out (some people spray the garlic with a light beer first; they claim it adds a superb taste).
Step three: Place the container in an oven set to 140-170 degrees F. (60 C.). If you can’t set your oven this low, try turning on the pilot light. Perhaps this will be enough. If you have a dehydrator, this process is much easier and faster. (In a rice boiler around 14 days.) Check the garlic now and then. I had mine too long once and they turned into rock, impissible to eat.
Step four: Leave the container in the oven for 30-40 days (in a dehydrator about 3 weeks). The garlic might be edible before that, but with more time the cloves will get the deep, black color and have the sweet, rich, syrupy taste. Taste regularly to see when ready.
Step five: Take the garlic out and leave them on a tray at room temperature for som 30-45 days. This will complete the oxidation process. The ready black garlic should be dark brown or almost black. (if you used a rice cooker, perhaps 14 days at room temperature is OK.)
Enjoying black garlic
There does not seem to be any limitation on how much you can consume. So there’s no risk of overdosing. It’s amazing to eat! It’s like having pickles and candy at the same time!