Black Gold: What is Black Garlic?

Brooke Newberry
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Is white garlic’s more fashionable, funky, and fermented friend stealing the spotlight? Probably not.  The impressive it-ingredient already has websites dedicated to the stuff, chef devotees, and is basically is on its way to securing a book deal.Originating in Korea, black garlic is produced by fermentation, a technique that has been around for thousands of years.  Many of our favorite foods are fermented.  When garlic undergoes fermentation, the sugar and amino acids in the allium produce melanoidin, the chemical compound responsible for its black color.

 

Here’s the thing.  Black garlic sounds sexy, yes.  However, the black version is just regular white garlic that’s been left for hot decomposition for about a month. Cue fermentation!  The cloves will turn into a blackish sticky matter and the garlic’s paper-thin covering will begin to brown.  The process is definitely a tedious one – the heat has to be regulated close to perfectly. The garlic is to age finely and must be kept from entering a rotting stage.  Patience yields an aftermath of soft, potent, and sweetly fermented wedges. Its consistency is similar to roasted garlic. 

Black garlic can be used in place of regular garlic, however, black would be more interesting and valuable for use in dishes to which it can deepen existing flavors.  Consider using it in recipes in place of raw garlic.  Raw garlic can have an overpowering and bitter sting, but black garlic has a sweetness that renders it more forgiving.  Try it in spreads, aiolis, or butters where you would use raw garlic (think black garlic butter compound – yum). Play up its funky, fermented, super-umami flavors in Asian-inspired dishes, boozy sauces, or beer and cheese soups. 

In Summary: keep both black and white around. Use black to change up tired recipes and use the white for the tried-and-true standbys.

Where can you find it?

Occasionally it’s found at specialty food stores – but call first to be sure.  There are websites online that will ship, like blackgarlic.com, one of the websites that passionately endorses its spectacularness.  Make your own by leaving white garlic covered in your oven or under other heating appliances for 40 days.  Most likely, you don’t want to burn your home down, so we’d recommend out-sourcing it for the first-time black gold experience.

How to store it:

Purchased black garlic’s shelf life is about 6 months.  It should be stored in a cool, dry place, and once opened should be kept refrigerated.  

 

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