How to Use Black Garlic


For a bulb that has been a staple ingredient since antiquity, garlic has always managed to retain some controversial appeal. Roasted garlic has a mouthwatering aroma, which has almost as many lovers as the dreaded "garlic breath” has haters. Enter black garlic: an ancient technique, recently rediscovered by chefs and foodies around the world, which can enhance the benefits of garlic while melting away its downsides. Naturally, it quickly became a potent culinary explosion.

What Is Black Garlic?

Black garlic may start as good old white Allium sativum, only aged and patiently slow-cooked until the cloves turn black. Thanks to something called the Maillard reaction (the same that gives steaks their sizzling and enticing aroma), black garlic exchanges its original rawness with a savory, yet delicately sweeter flavor. Black garlic used to be a rare delicacy item. However, it can now be found in specialty supermarkets all over the world, or even made at home with a bit of patience, a slow cooker or special fermenter, and some aluminum foil. This means experimentation is truly within everybody's reach!

How to use Black Garlic

Why is black garlic all the rage?

Although the idea of slow-cooking garlic is over 4,000 years old, the ingredient only became trendy in American culture starting in 2008. It was featured in cooking shows and chef competition reality shows. That’s when home cooks started experimenting with it, and specialty retailers discovered that there was a new market for it. First imported from Asia, people quickly began turning regular garlic into black garlic both for selling commercially and for using it at home themselves.

The reasons for its popularity include the great taste and nutritional benefits.

What Does Black Garlic Taste Like?

Describing a flavor in words alone is no easy task, and the best way to discover new flavors is to take the leap and try them out. If you want to know what to expect, though, prepare yourself for a nuanced experience. Many celebrity chefs have used increasingly poetic ways to describe its resulting flavor – garlicky still, but with hints of tamarind, syrup, or teriyaki, depending on who you ask.

It’s important to remember that the taste of black garlic is not uniform as the quality and features of the fresh garlic bulbs that you use to make it will also alter the resulting black garlic. Starchier, bulkier cloves yield sweeter, stickier black garlic, whereas juicier varieties often produce a fresher flavor. The best black garlic tastes a lot like caramel.

Is Black Garlic Good for You?

Nowadays, no food trend worth its salt is based on flavor alone, and black garlic is no exception. There are many health benefits awaiting those who consume it regularly.

The slow-cooking process that black garlic undergoes breaks down most of the allicin, which is responsible for garlic's pungency and its antibacterial action. However, it increases the amount of S-allyl-cysteine (SAC) , which can bring other health benefits that are arguably more useful for modern times. These benefits include the following. Reducing blood pressure: Regular consumption of black garlic can lower blood pressure. Regulating cholesterol levels: According to a 2014 study, black garlic is more efficient than raw garlic in raising HDL (or “good”) cholesterol levels, and lowering LDL. Boosting liver function: Black garlic consumption improved liver health among patients who previously abused alcohol. Improving immunity: Both garlic and black garlic are an effective way of strengthening immunity, and therefore preventing seasonal flus and colds. * Relieving the symptoms of respiratory allergies: A study performed on mice showed black garlic extract lessened the symptoms of allergies following exposure to pollen or dust.

Old Recipes and New Ideas

First time black garlic user? Learn what you can do with it.

Whether you are simply hunting new flavors, or chasing SAC's health properties, it's time to give black garlic a try! Rather than just give you a few elaborate and specific recipes, we have made up a small guide to help you include black garlic as part of your everyday cooking.

Besides the recipes below, you can try warming black garlic and using it as a topping for ice cream or blending it with chocolate for a unique caramel flavor in your candy bars and chips. You can even eat black garlic raw to enjoy its sweet flavor.

1. A Wild Twist on Your Party Platter

The easiest way to incorporate black garlic is probably to simply use it as a replacement for normal garlic in many tried-and-true recipes. This works especially well for dressings and dipping sauces. Try blending a few cloves of black garlic into a cup of homemade mayo. Another great way to wow your guests is to use black garlic when making aioli or tartar sauce. So, the next time you have people over and have to provide snacks, impress everybody with a black garlic dip.

2. Extra Umami on BBQ or Grilled Meats

Black garlic has a strong umami flavor with hints of sweetness, which are great for highlighting any quality cuts on your next barbecue. The easiest way to accomplish this is to make a simple marinade:

  • 3 crushed black garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme

Just mix these ingredients thoroughly and brush them on a quality cut of steak before grilling it. Alternatively, you can make a paste with black garlic, cumin, chili flakes, and chopped mint leaves. Use this as a rub for your next lamb roast.

3. Fusion Asian-Inspired Dishes

The slight tanginess of black garlic mixes awesomely with the sweet and sour notes of Asian cuisine. Black garlic was probably originally a Korean invention , so it makes sense that it mixes well with many of the region’s signature dishes. Black garlic works well as a topping for Asian-style fermented foods, or as a subtle way to make a homemade "hoisin-style" sauce.

4. Reinvented Italian Flavors

The modern foodie scene has brought an explosion of ethnic cuisines and exotic ingredients to everyday breakfast TV segments. This means some of the comforting staples that many of us grew up with are often pushed aside. Unfortunately, this has happened to Italian cuisine, which is now mainstream enough to sound unexciting. You can rescue your old pasta recipes by adding chopped black garlic as a topping, or by crushing and diluting black garlic in warm water and adding it to your good old ossobucco.

5. Earthy Side Dishes

Diluting black garlic in warm water is a very versatile trick that can be used with any soft, neutral-flavored food. For example, a traditional serving of mashed potatoes can become worthy of an anniversary dinner by simply using this trick and choosing silkier Golden Yukon potatoes instead of regular ones.

6. Restaurant-Quality Quick Stir Fries

Do you ever feel as if your attempts to replicate restaurant food at home yield unexciting results? If you miss the gourmet seasonings available outside, why not add your own exotic flair at home? Any basic veggie and tofu stir fry can be made more interesting with some sesame seeds and chopped black garlic mixed in with your standard soy sauce. You can also try to play on its subtle sweetness next time you stir fry some pork and noodles.

7. Decadent Salads that Won't Feel Like "Health Food"

Black garlic vinaigrettes are now a feature of many elegant restaurants and health-oriented eateries alike. Try this basic vinaigrette on top of your seasonal greens for lunch:

  • 2 mashed black garlic cloves and mix them with
  • 1 part balsamic vinegar
  • 1 part soy sauce
  • 2 two parts olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a drizzle of
  • 2 teaspoons of dry sherry

You can also replace the sherry for some Worcestershire sauce, or play around by adding herbs de Provence and grated Parmesan.

8. Invigorating Juices

Juicing is a great way for athletes and fitness aficionados to boost their vitamin and antioxidant intake. Many traditional health blends often suggest adding a couple of garlic cloves, which can be great for cardiovascular health and immunity but often disagreeable for the palate. Replace it with black garlic for a much tastier and breath-friendly alternative before your morning workout.

9. Infused Oils for Everyday Use

If you found that buying black garlic was a bit of a splurge, but still want to enjoy a hint of its taste on every meal, you can use it for an infused oil that can be easily added to any meal. They are very simple to make: peel a whole head of black garlic, sauté it very carefully on two cups of extra virgin olive oil, and then let it simmer for at least 15 minutes. Strain it and save the resulting aromatic oil in an airtight bottle or in the fridge. This is a great way to preserve its flavor for up to six months.

At the end of the day, the uses of black garlic are only limited by your own sense of adventure. Any of the suggestions mentioned above can be tweaked or enhanced with any spices you have available. You can make black at home yourself or find it in a variety of specialty shops and online retailers. There is no reason to skip on this chance to experiment!

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