Gourmet Garlic: Black Garlic

| 2/18/2014 9:31:00 AM

Black Garlic

“Do you sell black garlic?” I have been asked this question with increasing frequency over the last few years. Although black garlic has enjoyed a moderate level ofpopularity in North America, many people are unfamiliar with it, and even fewer have tasted it. Rich in both flavor and antioxidants, black garlic increasingly can be found in gourmet food stores and restaurants, and in addition, is readily available from online retailers.

The exact origins of black garlic are unknown and somewhat controversial, but it has been produced and used for centuries in various parts of Asia, including Korea, China, and Japan. In addition to being enjoyed as a delicacy in its own right, black garlic was, and still is, used as an ingredient in traditional Asian medicine. In North America, the emphasis is on enjoying it as a culinary delicacy, where it is prized for its rich umami contribution to dishes.

Production of Black Garlic

Black garlic is commonly referred to as “fermented” garlic, but given the absence of microbial metabolism, this is somewhat inaccurate. Rather, the color, flavor and texture of black garlic are due to enzymatic breakdown, from the slow conversion of the natural sugars in the garlic over time. Nothing, including preservatives or flavorings, is added to the garlic, as all the required sugars are already present inside the cloves.

To produce black garlic, whole bulbs of raw garlic are placed into a sealed container. The container is then placed into a vessel in which the heat and humidity can be controlled. Clay pots, and - more modernly - dehydrators, pressure cookers and even ovens can all be used to create black garlic. Bulbs are kept at a moderate heat (approximately 60°C/140°F) for up to six weeks, allowing the sugars ample time to convert. Once the conversion is complete, the garlic can be enjoyed soft and fresh or left unsealed to further mature through oxidation and dehydration. This last step is essential if a dried product such as garlic powder is being produced. Fully processed black garlic can last up to two years in an airtight container and cool, dark storage area.

All About Black Garlic

Black garlic is so named because of its matte-black, charcoalesque appearance. The color change is caused by the combination of sugars and amino acids through a process known as the Maillard reaction, which produces a brown-black polymer called melanoidan. Melanoidan is produced gradually and evenly throughout the garlic, giving the cloves a deepening brown and eventually the characteristic black color. Clove texture also changes, from firm and crisp to a soft and almost jelly-like consistency.

2/1/2018 7:54:23 PM

Does it make a difference what type of garlic is used to make black garlic? Would a variety of gourmet garlic produce a different flavor of black garlic than a cheaper softneck type?

2/1/2018 7:54:22 PM

Is it worth using gourmet garlic to make black garlic or will the cheaper garlics taste the same?

10/13/2014 12:29:31 PM

I knew I could count on you to demystify black garlic! I would really love to try this at home, but I'm wondering what variety of garlic I should start with?? (I'm in Northern CA)

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