I have been using a lot of black garlic in my kitchen, which I am super impressed with, and I’ve been inundated with questions about it! So what is black garlic and how does it become garlic-breath-free, high in antioxidants, super healthy, delicious and complex in flavour black gold?
Black garlic was first developed in Korea and thanks to its amazing taste it has been gradually becoming more and more popular amongst chefs and foodies around the globe. Thanks to its truly impressive nutritional properties it also attracts lots of interest from the health-minded people!
What is black garlic? / How does raw garlic become an aged, black garlic?
Black garlic is basically raw garlic which for 14 to 30 days was kept in a humidity-controlled environment, in temperature of 140F to 170F (60C – 76.6C). After, the bulbs are removed from the heat and left to oxidize for several days or even weeks.
Black garlic is not a fermented garlic. The transformation of a raw garlic into a black garlic does not involve a microbial process, which the real fermentation does. The black garlic owes its flavour mostly to enzymatic breakdown and the Maillard reaction. There are no additives, preservatives, fermentation or burning of any kind involved.
What does black garlic taste like?
I very much enjoy the flavour and would encourage anyone to give it a try. Thanks to the process in which the black garlic is produced the pungency and sharp smell is completely lost and what remains is the black garlic gold treat.
It has a puzzling, complex, rich and intense flavour and a texture of soft, chewy, dry fruit. When tasted on its own it reveals very distinctive notes of bitterness and sweetness, dark caramel, aniseed, chocolate, strong umami kick and hints of aged balsamic, black cardamom, leather, smoke, tamarind and liquorice. Plus that “je ne sais quoi” which often makes many dishes it is included in absolutely irresistible! It is a type of luxury good that high-end restaurants put on their menus and match with best wines.
How to cook with black garlic?
I add it to anything that needs some earthiness, depth and a touch of umami for the luxury and mystery. It works wonders in soups, rich sauces, dressings and with meat.
My latest black garlic recipes include:
You can also follow recipe ideas from these recognised chefs, but your imagination and your palette are the limit.
How to make black garlic at home
If you own a rice cooker or a slow cooker (crock-pot) you can certainly make your own black garlic at home. Most of standard slow cookers or a rice cookers come with a WARM setting, which is in the region of 140F – 165F (60C – 74C) – this is the perfect temperature for the raw garlic to become the black garlic in 14 days.
Things to check before you start
- Make sure to check the leaflet or instruction provided by the manufacturer (you can also ask the seller to check it for you) says that the WARM setting match recommended 140F – 165F (60C – 74C) to avoid disappointment.
- Some slow cookers and rice cookers come with an automatic off timer function after 12 hours or 24 hours. This might be an annoying feature to deal with when it comes to making black garlic, so make sure to check this as well.
- Place the whole garlic head (or several heads) on a few pieces of kitchen towel at the bottom of your cooker and cover the garlic over with another piece of kitchen towel. Put the lid on the cooker/close the rice cooker and connect to power in the best ventilated room (close to a window) or on a patio (sheltered from the rain). This is because you’ll find a strong garlic aroma filling any room you’ll choose to keep the cooker in for at least 4-5 days.
- Turn your rice cooker or slow cooker to keep WARM setting and leave for 14 days without removing the lid of the cooker.
- After 14 days, remove garlic from the cooker and place in a dry, kitchen towel lined container without a lid on. Now allow your black garlic to dry for a further 7 days to achieve the perfect flavour and to help with keeping it preserved for longer. You can peel it if you like or leave the wrappers on.
Store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 6 months.
Where to buy black garlic
Black garlic is available at many popular shops:
Health benefits of black garlic – yes, it is very good for you!
Because of its characteristics black garlic’s benefits may be more effective than fresh garlic for some conditions.
Compared to fresh garlic, black garlic is low in alliin (effectively creates 30 times less irritation to the lining of the stomach when compared with raw garlic), but astonishingly high in antioxidants, calcium, phosphorus and protein. It also contains nutrients like: Magnesium, Selenium, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C.
Based on several other studies, it can be concluded that black garlic health benefits are not to be ignored.
- helps to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure
- prevents obesity
- regenerates skin cells
- fights diabetes
- reduces allergies
- strengthens the immune system
- has antibacterial, anti-carcinogenic and anti-tumor properties. Look at reference documents below.*
‘In a 2009 mouse study, Japanese researchers found that black garlic was more effective than fresh garlic in reducing the size of tumors. The study was published in the journal Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Technology. In another study, black garlic was found to have twice the antioxidant levels as fresh—the aging/fermenting process appears to double the antioxidants. Black garlic is packed with high concentrations of sulfurous compounds, especially one in particular: s-allylcycteine (SAC). Science has shown a number of health benefits from SAC, including inhibition of cholesterol synthesis.
An advantage of SAC is that it is well-absorbed and much more stable than allicin and 100 percent bioavailable. Researchers are confident it plays a significant role in garlic’s overall health benefits.’ – Health Impact News