Black garlic is unique! The extraordinary complex, sweet taste of black garlic is very enticing. It’s like having healthy sweets! But be aware! once you have got the taste of it you will be irresistibly captured by the dark side.
What is black garlic?
Most black garlic is produced by caramelizing fresh garlic—whole garlic bulbs are warmed for weeks. It’s a break-down process involving slow sugar conversion into other compounds. The result is black cloves with a sweet, syrupy taste. This process does not involve fermentation with live bacteria but it’s still very tasty and beneficial.
However, black garlic produced by true fermentation involves live bacteria and is superior. During this fermentation, some nutrients are enhanced and many new ones are formed. For example, during fermentation allicin is converted to the potent S-ally-cysteine (SAC), a powerful antioxidant with many benefits. SAC is probably the most important and unique nutrient in black garlic.
The intense, deep taste is lingering with notes of dark caramel, fried onions, chocolate, a little bitterness, a slight molasses sweetness, and umami (a fifth taste describes as pleasant savory), plus some acidity. It has a soft, smooth and creamy texture, it’s a bit sticky like dates. And it melts in your mouth. This stuff is not even close to fresh garlic.
If you feel that the taste of raw garlic is too strong, then the much milder black garlic is a good option and it does not give you a bad breath. The first time I had black garlic was a total and unexpected surprise and I immediately fell in love with it.
How to use black garlic?
The complex and delicious taste makes it easy to use in cooking. You can use it similarly as roasted garlic. Black garlic is also an excellent decoration of dishes. Here are some suggestions:
- Serve a few cloves on the side, especially with meat dishes.
- Make a puree from black garlic cloves and oil. The puree makes the taste more pronounced. Use it as a bread-spread 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 whole or chopped cloves of black garlic. It makes simple pasta dishes look and taste really cool.
- When a dish seems to be “missing something, ” add a few cloves and suddenly it tastes great.
Buying black garlic
There are several brands that create beautiful and delicious black garlic. RioRand and Onetang are two of them.
Check them out here:
- RioRand Yuhongyuan Organic Whole Black Garlic
- Fermented black garlic puree is delicious and versatile
- Onetang Black Garlic
- MW Polar Black Garlic
Making garlic at home is more cost-effective but it is a challenge to create a product that tastes as good as the ones mentioned above, though you can get pretty close. I think the easiest way is to do as described below.
How to prepare black garlic at home
Preparing black garlic at home is much cheaper in the long run. Using your oven is possible but it takes a very long time and there’s no guarantee you will succeed each time. I did this a few times and it took 40 days. The first batch was good but the second a disaster—the garlic turned hard as rock.
A much better and faster option is to get a Garlic Fermenter which is easy to use, though you still need some patience.
To prepare black garlic you need:
- 15 -20 garlic bulbs
- A garlic fermenter
- Set the timer for 9-13 days
- Taste it after 9 days to see if ready
Instruction: This garlic will taste great after 10 days. However, to get it as you like you might need to try a few batches. If you use fresh garlic or large bulbs, you can dehydrate them first in the fermenter as this will enhance the result.
Raw garlic turns black when cooked for a long time at a low temperature. The darkening happens when sugar and amino acids react with heat which produces many additional substances that has a browning effect. This is the same process as when meat gets darker as it’s cooked in a pan or grilled. As black garlic is cooked at lower temperatures, it just takes longer.