What is black garlic? Well, it’s not something most people experience outside of fancy restaurants.
But I’m here to change that!
I’ll tell you all about it! (Including how you can make it at home.)
Black garlic is the caviar of garlic. It’s made through a unique aging process involving time and high-humidity-heating.
In the process, fresh garlic loses its sharpness and becomes tangy and molasses-like.
And unlike fresh garlic, it’s a fantastic addition to savory and sweet dishes.
So, what is black garlic? Let’s break it down, and you’ll see why you absolutely need to try it!
What Is Black Garlic?
The name says it all (almost)!
Black garlic is fresh garlic that undergoes a low-and-slow aging process, turning it completely black.
However, another method achieves the same effect through a yeast-fermentation process.
Whatever the process, the entire endeavor takes a while. We’re talking over a month!
But like all good things, black garlic is well worth the wait.
The aging process tenderizes the garlic cloves, making them soft and silky. #smoothlikebutter
Black garlic is often chopped or pureed before it is added to dishes. It adds a complex flavor to soups, stews, and even ice cream!
What Does Black Garlic Taste Like?
Black garlic tastes sweet, like molasses.
During the aging process, garlic undergoes the Maillard reaction. It’s the same chemical reaction that makes all browned/seared foods taste better.
The Maillard reaction gives caramel its unmistakable not-quite-burned flavor. And it’s the reason toasted bread is so tasty. Anyway.
When the clove of garlic undergoes aging, it caramelizes the natural sugars found in garlic.
Black garlic is sweet (like a Medjool date) and tangy. Yet it still possesses that gentle kiss of garlic flavors.
The flavors are vibrant and complex, often compared to a balsamic glaze. This deliciously dark ingredient works in most savory and sweet dishes.
The texture is unlike fresh garlic. Black garlic has a soft, spreadable consistency that can be somewhat sticky.
If regular garlic is rock and roll, black garlic is smooth jazz. Both are fabulous but distinct.
Where to Buy Black Garlic
You can pick up black garlic at many grocery stores. But you might need to research first. Your local supermarket may not carry this gourmet garlic.
So, your best option is a specialty market with a large veggie section. Or, try a local farmer’s market.
It’s also available online, but you have to be careful. Some online retailers sell “black garlic seeds.”
Black garlic seeds and black garlic are not the same things!
When shopping online, look for options with whole garlic heads, not cloves. Many black garlic scams are online, but buying whole heads are the safest bet.
How to Make Black Garlic
If you have time and a lot of patience, you can skip the hunt for black garlic. Because you make your own at home!
It’s not difficult, but it is time-consuming. But good things come to those who wait.
Here’s an easy (but not quick) way to make black garlic at home.
1. Gather your garlic.
- You need whole heads of garlic for black garlic in their papery skin.
- Before slow-cooking, remove the top papery layer and any dirt or debris from the outside.
2. Prepare your garlic heads.
- Wrap each individual head of garlic in aluminum foil. For the process to work, air cannot escape!
So wrap them up tightly.
3. Place wrapped garlic in a slow cooker and turn on the heat.
There’s no fancy kitchen equipment needed for black garlic. All you need is your handy-dandy crock pot.
- Set the heat setting to low, about 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Let those garlic heads simmer for 3 weeks.
4. Check in on the process.
- After 3 weeks, cut open a head of the garlic and check for doneness.
- If it is black and tender, it’s ready to use!
- If not, continue to cook for 1 more week.
How to Use Black Garlic in Recipes
The best part of black garlic is that it’s so easy to prepare! It’s so tender that it just pops out of the garlic heads with little effort.
And the flavors of black garlic are perfect for so many dishes!
- Soups and Stews. It’s a delicious addition to classic soups and stews, like black garlic chicken soup.
- Its unique sweetness takes the flavors over the top.
- Condiments and spreads. It’s so soft you can smear it on a toasted burger bun.
- Or, you can add it to cream cheese or yogurt. This makes a tangy and delicious black garlic dip.
- Pizza toppings. Fresh garlic is a little overwhelming on a pizza. Using black garlic delivers all the garlic feels without the overpowering bite.
- Sweet treats. Yes, sweet treat. The garlicky-ness in black garlic is so mild you can even use it in desserts!
- I love black garlic in ice cream (with vanilla and honey) or bread pudding. Or even black garlic chocolate chip cookies (holy yum)!
How to Store Black Garlic
The black garlic-making process is pretty time-consuming, but its shelf life is just as long.
You can store black garlic for a few months when it’s kept properly.
- Place your heads of black garlic in a cool, dry location (pantry or cupboard). It should stay fresh for several months.
- Just make sure that you steer clear of direct sunlight.
You can also store your garlic in the fridge. It will stay fresh for up to 6 months.
And you can also store it in the freezer.
- Place your head of black garlic in a freezer bag, and pop it in the freezer. It will stay fresh for up to 1 year.
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