Why is Black Garlic So Popular?

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The fame of garlic has gone far and wide. It is part of the diets of many health-conscious people these days due to its numerous benefits.

But there is another form of the vegetable that more and more people are now talking about called black garlic. The name might not be very appealing, but this ingredient is the subject of significant interest among culinary enthusiasts. It makes you wonder; why is it so popular?

Why is Black Garlic so popular

You will find the answer to that question in this article along with other relevant information. So, we invite you to read on!

Black Garlic Overview

You can’t grow black garlic. You can, however, grow garlic better suited to becoming black garlic.

Black garlic is simply garlic that has passed through an aging process. This process, which is only possible under specific conditions, promotes a reaction in the vegetable variant and turns the color black.

To make the ingredient, whole bulbs of garlic are heated for several weeks until the color changes. This is done in a humidity-controlled setting with a temperature ranging from about 140 degrees to 170 degrees (Fahrenheit). The level of heat commonly used is closer to the lower threshold.

The duration of this process can range from as few as about two weeks to three months. Some have tried aging the ingredient for much longer, but the improvement in quality wasn't significant.

When fresh garlic is put in an environment such as described above, a chemical process known as the Maillard reaction takes place. This turns the sugars and amino acids in the vegetable to melanoidin. This compound, which is produced during the latter stages of the reaction, gives black garlic its color.

The fermentation process not only alters the color of the vegetable but also its color and taste. It may be hard to notice any similarity between the ingredient and the original form.

Black garlic has been a common addition to dishes in some Asian countries , including Korea and Thailand, for many years. It is a legendary ingredient in China, where it was once thought to grant immortality.

The popularity has now extended to the United States. It practically exploded onto the country's culinary scene in 2008. The popularity especially surged after it was featured on Season 7 Episode 11 of Iron Chef America.

Ever since, many people have embraced it and it has become a highly sought after ingredient. Its use has been mostly limited to high-end cuisine since its introduction to America.

Reasons for Black Garlic’s Rising Popularity

The popularity of black garlic is such that more and more stores are beginning to offer it. This is unlike years ago when only professional cooks and chefs cared to seek it out. Even so, you can still only get it from specialty spice stores or online retailers.

So, what's driving the popularity? You will find below some common reasons people are drawn to black garlic.

Pleasant taste and texture

Fresh garlic has a taste that deters many from consuming it, regardless of the numerous health effects it has to offer. That's not an issue with this ingredient.

If you were given crushed black garlic, you may miss the origin completely. The production process mutes the vegetable flavor, giving you instead something that tastes like caramel candy. It can also have a flavor similar to that of sweet tamarind fruit or instant coffee, depending on the sugar content of the fresh garlic used.

It is no secret that many people these days have a sweet tooth. The sweetness of this ingredient makes it so appealing.

The texture is another thing. Black garlic has a soft, syrupy feel. It is rather sticky and you can more easily crush it with your fingers than regular garlic. The skin also becomes so thin that it easily comes off.

Better breath

Another major issue with regular garlic is the odor. You’ve probably found it difficult to get off your hands and your breath. Yet, that strong odor is an indication of the vegetable's potency.

Black garlic, however, doesn't carry such concerns. You get fresher breath when you consume it, compared to the fresh variety. Many people are willing to experiment with it in cooking because the odor does not linger as long. It is hardly noticeable.

Healthful

Garlic is popular in the first place because of the many health benefits that have been attributed to it. Luckily, you don't lose those benefits in black garlic despite the transformation it passes through.

Granted that this ingredient is known to have lower allicin content than the fresh variety, it is still loaded with antioxidants that can promote good health. It is has very high concentrations of the amino acid derivative known as S-Allyl cysteine. This is more stable compared to allicin, which breaks down rather too quickly.

The health benefits scientists say you can enjoy from consuming black garlic include:

  • Lower blood cholesterol
  • Improved immunity
  • Protection against coronary heart disease
  • Prevention of Alzheimer's diseases and other cognitive disorders
  • Regulation of blood sugar
  • Lower risk of cancer

Stomach-friendly

It is not uncommon to experience a burning feeling in your stomach when you consume regular garlic. You do not need to worry about that with this ingredient made from it.

Black garlic is easy on your stomach and digestive system. It is easier to digest, so you do not need to fear experiencing indigestion when you cook with it or even eat it raw.

There are actually studies – albeit with animals as subjects – showing the ingredient can indeed be beneficial. For example, researchers found in a 2013 study that it appeared to lower risk of cognitive disorders in mice.

With all these reasons, it is very obvious why many people are embracing aged garlic. Children and the elderly love the taste and texture as well.

What Can You Make with Black Garlic?

The savory black garlic is a versatile ingredient . Your level of creativity will determine how much you can do with it. To set off your imagination, just put a little in your mouth and watch as the ideas on what to make with it starts to flood in.

You can use it to spice up bland dishes that are usually neutral in flavor, such as rice, pastas, and mashed potatoes. Some use it in soups, sauces, and for salad dressings.

There is also the option of using to make a puree with olive oil. Soak fish or chicken in black garlic before cooking or roasting and get ready for a lip-smacking treat.

You can also make palatable dips mixing aged garlic with herbs and cream cheese. It can be used for making a vinaigrette, combined with other ingredients, such as soy, oil, and sherry vinegar. If you are a chili lover, you can enhance its flavor with this as well.

The possibilities are almost endless when it comes to what you can make with black garlic. Different recipe ideas are available if you wish to try it in a variety of ways.

Getting Black Garlic

As we noted earlier, it was more difficult laying your hands on aged garlic in stores some years back. But the surge in popularity has now made it more accessible .

It used to be sold mainly in specialty spice stores ran by Asians - not at regular local grocery stores. But some major specialty retail stores now carry it. It is also possible to order it online from the comfort of your home and have your order shipped to you.

The cost is what may discourage you a bit. Black garlic is not in the same category as an average item you can get from your local grocery store. It is also more expensive than the fresh variant.

For this reason, some people choose to make it at home. But that also comes with the risk of your home smelling like garlic.

Stay Safe

You don't really have any major problem to trouble your head with when using black garlic. The main risk is just that you may get carried away by the sweet taste and that is a notable cause for concern.

When consumed in large quantities, the ingredient may produce side effects that include:

  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea

High intake may also potentiate the effects of blood thinners or drugs necessary for treating high blood pressure. This makes you more susceptible to bleeding.

It is possible that some people may experience allergic reactions from consumption. Symptoms of such include runny nose and skin problems.

It is advisable to stop eating black garlic if you experience any untoward reactions. If you do have a reaction to it, discussion the problem with your doctor as it may be a sign of other foods you should avoid.

The vast majority of people, however, do not have any issues when they use the ingredient in moderate amounts.

With all the benefits and popularity of black garlic, it does not mean you should completely abandon the vegetable variety. You get more of certain nutrients in each one. Don't miss out on what the other has to offer while focusing on one.


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