Black garlic is unique! The extraordinary complex, sweet taste of black garlic is enticing. It’s like having healthy sweets! But once you have got the taste of it, be aware, you will be irresistibly captured by the dark side.
What is black garlic?
Most black garlic 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. The result is black cloves with a sweet, syrupy taste. Even though this does not involve fermentation with live bacteria, it’s still very tasty.
However, black garlic produced in a fermentation process involving live bacteria is superior. During fermentation, nutrients are enhanced and new beneficial ones are formed. Black garlic contains S-ally-cysteine (SAC) which has a number of potent health benefits.
Fermented black garlic in supplement form is also available where they have packed all the nutrients in capsules. But you really need to experience the taste!
The intense, deep taste is 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, it can be used the same way as roasted garlic.
- Serve a few cloves on the side to any meal, especially meat dishes.
- Make a puree from black garlic cloves and oil. The puree makes the tastes more pronounced. Use as a spread on bread or rub it onto meat before roasting. It can also be added to cream-based sauces.
- When 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, ” add a few cloves and suddenly it tastes amazing.
The easiest and fastest way is to buy it. Try RioRand Yuhongyuan Organic Whole Black Garlic. It’s a popular and reliable brand.
You can make black garlic at home too. I’ve done it a few times because I thought it was fun. But I discovered that it can be a challenge to create a product that tastes as good as RioRand. Of course, preparing it at home is much cheaper.
How to prepare black garlic at home
Here’s a brief description. Use organic garlic if you can.
The process is simple but requires patience. But it’s well worth the wait! This 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 safe to use in an oven. It should be big enough for the amount of garlic you want to prepare.
Step two: Wrap the container tightly with the aluminum foil. This is to prevent contaminants from getting in and garlic aroma from leaking out (some spray the garlic with a light beer first and claim it adds a superb taste).
Step three: Place the container in an oven set to 140-170 degrees F. (60-75 C). In some ovens the pilot light is enough. However, using a dehydrator makes this process much easier and faster. Check the garlic now and then. I once left mine too long and the garlic turned hard as rock, impossible to eat.
Step four: Leave the container in the oven for 30-40 days (in a dehydrator about 3 weeks; a rice boiler around 14 days). With patience the cloves will turn deep black and develop a sweet, rich, syrupy taste.
Step five: Take the garlic out and leave them on a tray at room temperature for some 30-45 days to complete the oxidation process. The garlic should now be dark brown or almost black. If you used a rice cooker, around 14 days at room temperature should be enough.
There does not seem to be any risk of overdosing. It’s amazing to eat by itself or with any kind of meal! It’s like having pickles and candy at the same time!