Discovering Black Garlic

Thanks to my sister, I am on a flavor-filled adventure discovering black garlic.  If you have yet to start that journey, let me share with you what I've learned.  

What Flavor Is Black Garlic and How's It Created?

I found my black garlic to be very soft, wonderfully sweet, mild yet rich in flavor.  A small piece on my tongue literally melted in my mouth.  Caroline Hatchett, in her article The Dirty Secrets and Deep Flavor of Black Garlic quotes:

"It's deep. The flavors are so layered, and they linger," says Chef Evan Hanczor of Brooklyn's Parish Hall. "It has notes of dark caramel, chocolate, a little bitterness, a little sweetness, and umami, plus that je ne sais quoi."

It's not some special specie of the garlic family.  It's regular garlic that has been processed through high heat, fermented and then aged.  In that same article above, Ms. Hatchett goes on to state that the flavor of black garlic is not due to fermentation but an "enzymatic breakdown and good old fashioned Maillard reaction.   Processed at around 60°C/140°F for a month to six weeks, it essentially gets a low and slow roast that converts sugar and turns the cloves black."  (Maillard reaction is simply a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its desirable flavor.)

There is some confusion or perhaps I should call it various stories that give claim to where the process began.  I'll just take the safe road and say, we know for certain it has an Asian origin.  

A Few Facts On Storing And Cooking With Black Garlic

It comes in several forms--powdered, cloves and whole.  (It does come in other forms, such as capsules for health.  But that's a different subject.)

Packaged whole black garlic will store at room temperature for about a month or until the expiration date.  Once the garlic has been opened, it may store in the refrigerator for 3-6 months.  

What Foods And Dishes Can You Add Black Garlic?

Its flavor complements and enhances almost any dish.  One article on black garlic suggests that if you have ever made a dish and had that "something is missing" feeling, black garlic is just the right flavor to fill that void. When I read that, I knew then I would be revising some of my favorite meals.

In its article, "Hey Chef, What Can I Do With Black Garlic?", Serious Eats.com features 10 chefs who answer that question.  Their ideas include a black ranch dressing; sauces; a pâté; deviled eggs; and even a savory ice cream! 

In "Chef's Are Going Crazy For Black Garlic (And You Will, Too!)", from Bon Appetit suggests the following:

"Use the cloves as you would roasted garlic: Purée them with oil, then smear the paste on crostini, incorporate it into dressings, or rub it onto chicken or fish before roasting.
•Powdered, it’s like umami fairy dust: Sprinkle it on anything that wants some earthiness and depth.
"

Interested?  Wanna' Know Where You Can Find Black Garlic?

As I stated above, on a tip from my sister, I found black garlic at Trader Joe's.  The black garlic is "fermented" Japanese Aomori and distributed under Trader Joe's brand.  You may also be able to find black garlic at Whole Foods. If you don't have one near you and can't find it at a regular grocery store, you can purchase black garlic online.  One place I found of particular interest and where I gleaned a wealth of information for this article is Black Garlic North America.  It specializes in fermentation, black garlic being its flagship product.   

Some articles I read suggests you can make your own.  If you decide you really love black garlic, with more research this may be an option for always having black garlic on hand.

Enough talk about black garlic!  I have to get to my kitchen and start cooking with it!  Stay tuned.  I'll be sharing my recipes with you.

How about you?  Love to hear your thoughts and experience in cooking with black garlic.  
Leave a Comment Below.