WHAT IS BLACK GARLIC?
Black garlic is not a variety of garlic and doesn’t grow this way in case you were wondering.
This kind of garlic is the final result of a long and particular process that transform white garlic. A completely unique product packed with nutritional and organoleptic properties way different from the original source.
In fact, beside from color and consistence of its pulp, black garlic differs from the common one for its sweetish taste, with aromatic licorice reminiscent notes. The main advantage is that this processed garlic doesn’t cause annoying problems with halitosis, and the typical aftertaste of raw garlic that may not please everyone and suit certain circumstances is completely absent.
Furthermore, it seems that that amount of antioxidant is considerably higher than in common white garlic, so that is considered a real tasty elixir for our health.
HOW BLACK GARLIC IS MADE
The process of transforming garlic into black garlic has ancient origins belonging to the Korean tradition, and mainly consist in two phases:
In the first phase garlic bulbs are fermented naturally for one month, without any addition of yeasts or fungi, in a humid environment where the temperature is kept within a specific range.
In the second phase of the process the bulbs are placed in a different environment where they are oxidized for another 45 days. During this phase the pulp become softer,darken, and lose the classic smell and pungent taste to become the final product.
The final result is a completely different product that conserve the shape and many of its nutritional benefits, that in same case are even enhanced. The flavor is a all new deal, with a slightly sweet with a particular licorice aftertaste. The pulp becomes dark and very soft, almost creamy. Finally, due to the reduced content of allicin, black garlic have a smoother taste and more delicate not pungent smell, becoming a 100% kiss-proof aliment!
BLACK GARLIC PROPERTIES
During the long process of fermentation and oxidation, black garlic loses some of the original properties in favor of new ones. These are its main characteristic and benefits :
- Easy to digest: Besides causing halitosis problems, for many, allicin is difficult to digest. Black garlic is easy to digest, and all those people who do not tolerate garlic, can enjoy and benefits from its consumption
- Rich in antioxidants: During the aging process, allicin, converts into flavonoids, polyphenols and bioactive alkaloids. The antioxidant substances that are formed during the process are responsible for the blackish color of fermented garlic. Black garlic has a double concentration of antioxidants, compared to the common white garlic. Antioxidants are very important for us, because they help to counteract the harmful action of free radicals, helping us fight aging and cell degeneration, along with the related drawbacks.
- Reduces bad cholesterol: Its beneficial action against cholesterol is given by the presence of a particular compound, called s-allylcycteine, that acts by inhibiting cholesterol synthesis. For this reason black garlic is particularly indicated for those suffering from problems of hypercholesterolemia.
- Reduces blood pressure: black garlic, as well as white garlic, is an excellent natural remedy for those suffering from hypertension.
Moreover, black garlic is considered to stimulate our entire immune system, to have anti-inflamatory and anti-allergic activity, and to promote memory enhancement.
BLACK GARLIC USES
Black garlic is a true gastronomic delicacy so that it is increasingly being used by the most famous starred chefs to prepare refined dishes with an unique flavor, enriched precisely by the particularity and delicacy of its taste.
Personally, I believe that the best way to taste and use black garlic is consuming it raw. This way enhance its delicate taste that tends to “fade” during cooking. Having said that, cooking is clearly not an exact science, but rather a creative experience where each of us is free to experiment with flavors and combinations to our liking.
If you would like to cook black garlic, the advice is to do it anyway on a low heat allowing it to melt slowly, just like you would do with common garlic, anchovies or onion. Common successful uses are integration with your preparation of hummus, pesto, sauces and fillings.
Its delicate taste makes it very versatile, its flavor blends perfectly with meat, fish and most vegetables. It can be spread on bread or made into a delicious version of garlic bread. The classic hint of garlic is almost imperceptible, its delicate flavor is not suitable for extremely tasty, spicy and salty preparation in general.
WHAT VARIETIES ARE AVAILABLE
Although black garlic is an intuition originally from Korea, in recent years it is also becoming popular here in the West. In fact, not being a variety of garlic but the result of a fermentation and oxidation process of the common white garlic, it’s a product that can be replicated all over the world.
Until a few years ago, the only products available were mostly offered by Korean and Asian producers. Today it is also possible to buy local products in most countries.
Black garlic is a niche product, which is unlikely to be found in supermarkets and even in organic food stores. Some herbalists sell black garlic powder capsules, thus it is easier to purchase it online.
The long natural fermentation rely on the permanence of the bulbs at certain specific temperature and humidity condition requires equipment, knowledge and patience. For this reason its production has remained over the years on a small scale.
HOMEMADE BLACK GARLIC, IS IT POSSIBLE?
If he is thinking of self-producing black garlic at home, unfortunately I have to disappoint you and give you bad news. The whole aging process is complex and very delicate. Reproducing and maintaining the correct temperature and humidity conditions is not at all easy. The margin of error is minimal, and the risk of rotting rather than fermenting your garlic is unfortunately very real.
I understand that not everything can be replicated at home with appreciable results without the right equipment. There are specific fermenter machines on the market, specifically designed for the homemade production of black garlic. They are similar to common electric rice cookers in the concept and shape, and you may want to check them out.