Browse the internet in search of black garlic and with each page the mystery surrounding the magic of this wonder food seems to deepen rather than unfolding. I know, because I have spent many hours, often in frustration, researching this matter.
When I first heard about Black Garlic I was both astounded, given that black garlic had been around for thousands of years, that I never heard of this before and I was curious what all the fuss was about.
What is Black Garlic
Black garlic is simply fresh garlic which has been aged under low heat and high humidity in order to bring out powerful antioxidants and complex flavours while simultaneously removing all of the sulfurous smells and odors associated with fresh garlic.
Black garlic is both slightly sweet and sour with tastes which are similar to balsamic vinegar, while simultaneously producing smokey and fruity flavours with bitter notes with a texture that should resemble eating dried plums or even soft liquorice. The combined flavour profile of black garlic can only be described as ‘umami’ the 5th taste sensation, which I personally love. It takes a long time to transform the taste and colour of garlic into the texture, colour and taste of black garlic. The texture should be soft and sticky yet hold its shape when handled. The taste should linger on your palate long after having consumed black garlic.
My black garlic discovery journey
We have all heard that curiosity killed the cat and that satisfaction brought it back, so I wanted to satisfy my own curiosity by experimenting with actually making some black garlic of my own. As one does, I opened my laptop and started browsing the internet for recipes.
In my search for the perfect recipe I came across a plethora of ways to make black garlic. Non of them suitable, most impracticable, not feasible (without ordinary kitchen tools) and, worst of all, with methods described beyond comprehension.
Some methods I found included complicated settings for temperature and humidity. One such method describes, (without going into the 86 page detailed (patented) instructions) ; start on high heat with high humidity, adjusting temperature and humidity settings up and down continuously and do this for 2 or so months! The description was so complicated that I wondered if someone was either having a laugh or they didn’t really wanted you to succeed. I suspected both were true.
Other ‘cooking’ directions were talking about fermenting black garlic as if one were to concoct a garlic beverage. Fermentation can mean a lot of things but in my book fermentation is a metabolic process in which organisms such as bacteria convert sugar into an alcohol. No, that was not the purpose.
As I looked, searched and browsed the internet I wasn’t really getting any wiser until I read about a simple method of making black garlic using just a rice cooker and some beer.
Jackpot! I already owned a rice cooker and my fridge always has a ready supply of beer. Garlic I had recently bought fresh so this was going to be my experimental way and that is how I, eventually succeeded.
By the way; the beer definitely proved to be necessary in the production of Black Garlic, not by adding the beer to the garlic but drinking beer adds an other level of gratification.
Today, after many successful black garlic ‘runs’, I will gladly share this method with you. Trust me; follow the simple instructions in each step of the way and you too will be making black garlic in a manner of which the Koreans, where apparently black garlic originated, will be proud of your efforts.
Please click here to take you to a colleague’s blog on which I based my own method.
But first a little history
The true origins of Black Garlic are unknown. There are several stories doing the ’rounds’ but non make a conclusive statement. Therefore, feel free to pick one that suits your narrative.
- One story tells the tail of a garlic farmer in the United Kingdom who claimed back in 2009 that he had stumbled upon a 4,000 year-old Korean recipe for black garlic.
- More recently, a Korean inventor patented a device to make black garlic, and stated that “No matter what you’ve heard, black garlic isn’t an ancient food from Korea…I created it and have three patents for my proprietary process.”
- There are claims that Japanese families have been cultivating Black Garlic for centuries and…
- Korean myths about accidentally creating black garlic in clay pots left in the heat of the sun.
- Even Wikipedia doesn’t have a factual historical account of black garlic’s origins. Therefore all of us may lay claim to have invented at least ones own version of this wonder food.
And now a little insight about the; Where, When, What and the How.
Where: Pick a suitable place to set up your black garlic production. Once heated the garlic lets off a pungent smell that can linger for days. So, if you’re making black garlic then the worst place to place your rice cooker is in your living room. The best place would be some shed at the end of your garden or in someones else’s house. I make mine at home on my balcony.
When: I buy garlic in the period end of May-beginning of June when the garlic is at its peak freshness. In parts of the Balkans we are lucky to have 1-2 harvests per year. For instance in Greece, where they have (in my humble opinion) the best garlic in the world, it is possible to buy good quality garlic all year round because they have 2 harvests per year.
When buying fresh garlic stick to these 5 criteria:
- Garlic bulb must be firm to the touch (not soft if squeezed).
- The outside skin of the bulb can be: either dry and crisp to the touch or, if the garlic is super fresh, the skin may even be supple and moist to the touch.
- There must no signs of mold or of rot either within the bulb or on the outside.
- There should be no germination happening either inside or on the outside of the bulb. You can tell if the garlic has started to germinate by slicing a clove lengthwise through the centre. There must be no green sprout and the centre should be as white as the clove itself.
- Always select the largest bulbs you can find. Bulbs as big as the palm of your hand are perfect.
Only two varieties of garlic are suitable, these are; “Softneck” or “Harneck”. The so called ‘Elephant Garlic’ is unsuitable because it is not really garlic at all. In fact it has more in common with a leek.
- “Softneck” garlic is ok but not best suited for black garlic production. It is characterized by mild flavour and is most commonly found everywhere. This variety is also easy to braid and hence you often find it decorating kitchens, shops and restaurants. This variety needs a warm climate to grow.
- The “Hardneck” variety produces larger bulbs than its cousin and is slightly spicier in taste. Because of the large bulbs these are perfect for black garlic production. This variety does best when exposed to cold temperatures by staying in the ground over the course of the winter. The cold helps to grow the bulbs to their large size and the cold aids in the production of complex sugars that are good for making black Garlic.
Making Black Garlic
For that we will need a recipe which you can find by clicking here. The link will take you to my recipe page for making black garlic.
I bet you can’t wait to get started so by all means; go for it!
While your garlic is ‘brewing’ take a glance at some of the interesting nutritional and health inspiring information on black garlic I have managed to gather.
The facts will astound you and will hopefully make you a life long fan, just like me, of black garlic.
Faqs about Black Garlic
- Black Garlic contains much more Superoxide Dismutase, an important antioxidant, than regular garlic.
- When allicin (a powerful antibiotic and anti-fungal compound naturally occurring in garlic) is heated, it turns into S-allylcysteine which is more easily absorbed by the body thus more beneficial to you.
- S-Allylcysteine is an organosulfur compound that is a constituent of black garlic, which is effective for preventing cancers, inhibiting cholesterol, improving arterial sclerosis, preventing heart diseases and Alzheimer’s disease.
- The content of Polyphenols is significantly increased, which is effective for inhibiting oxidation of cholesterol, inhibiting generation of active oxygen and preventing arterial sclerosis.
- Its antioxidation capability is significantly increased, 10 times higher than that of raw garlic, while the essential effectiveness of garlic is not reduced
Presumed Health Benefits of Black Garlic
- Assists in improving the immune system
- Is known to inhibit atherosclerosis
- Possibly aids in Stabilizing blood pressure
- Seems to contain anti skin aging properties
- Can help lower cholesterol
- Can help in controlling blood sugar levels
- May ease constipation
- Could prevent cardiovascular disease
- Can prevent cancer cells by inhibiting the formation of free radicals.
I should note that I am not a doctor, nor have do I lay claim to any of the statements above. I am simply stating information I have gathered from the internet.
The above list of “Natural Health Benefits” are merely claimed to be beneficial.
You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.
Do not disregard, avoid or delay obtaining medical or health related advice from your health-care professional because of something you may have read on this site.
The use of any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk.