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How to “Grow” Black Garlic

If you saw a head of black garlic would you think it was garlic gone bad or would you eat it up?

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Apparently black garlic is a real thing. I didn’t believe it at first.

I saw heads of black garlic for sale at a vendor’s table during a large expo last summer and wasn’t sure what I was seeing. The garlic bulbs were still whole, but the papery coating was a dark brown and the garlic inside was black. I thought it might be a special variety of garlic, like Chesnock red.

It seems black garlic originated in Asia many years ago where it’s still considered a delicacy and enjoyed for its health benefits. Some say it has twice the amount of antioxidants as regular garlic.

Heads of fresh garlic undergo a lengthy process of cooking and caramelizing (or as some call it, fermenting) at low heat. The heat works on the amino acids and sugars inside the garlic causing cloves to turn black.

But don’t be put off by the color. The process results in a sweeter garlic with a softer texture. After the garlic’s transformation, it’s eaten on its own or added to recipes for a milder flavor over fresh garlic.

A quick online search shows black garlic available for ordering as finished bulbs, but also as a health supplement in tablets or capsules. Some stores may also carry the whole black garlic bulbs on their shelves. It seems expensive to buy in all its forms.

However, experts say vegetable gardeners can make their own. The process requires at least one piece of special equipment: either a rice cooker dedicated to the cooking or a special black garlic fermenter (also available online).

Homegrown garlic bulbs are cooked on the lowest setting or around 150 degrees Fahrenheit for around 10 days. Some say to place the cooker outside because the odor of cooking garlic can be overpowering.

After the garlic turns black, it’s cured at room temperature while it dries, then it’s stored in the refrigerator.

This homemade process is different from the authentic, naturally processed black garlic. That garlic can take up to 90 days to process.

Would you try making your own black garlic? Why or why not?

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If you saw a head of black garlic would you think it was garlic gone bad or would you eat it up?

What Is Black Garlic: Learn About The Benefits Of Black Garlic

A few years ago I was shopping at my favorite grocers and noticed they had something new in the produce department. It looked a bit like garlic, or rather a whole clove of roasted garlic, only blacker in color. I had to inquire and asked the nearest clerk what this stuff was. Turns out, it is black garlic. Never heard of it? Read on to find out how to make black garlic and other fascinating black garlic information.

What is Black Garlic?

Black garlic isn’t a new product. It has been consumed in South Korea, Japan and Thailand for centuries. Finally, it’s made its way to North America, better late than never because this stuff is fabulous!

So what is it? It is, indeed, garlic that has undergone a process that renders it unlike any other garlic. It achieves a heightened flavor and aroma that is in no way reminiscent of the almost acrid odor and intense flavor of raw garlic. It elevates everything it’s added to. It is rather like the umami (savory taste) of garlic adding that magical something to a dish which sends it over the top.

Black Garlic Information

Because its garlic, you may be thinking about growing black garlic, but no, it doesn’t work that way. Black garlic is garlic that has been fermented for a period of time at high temperatures under a controlled humidity of 80-90%. During this process, the enzymes that give garlic its strong aroma and flavor break down. In other words, black garlic undergoes the Maillard reaction.

If you didn’t know, the Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that give browned, toasted, roasted and seared foods their amazing flavor. Anyone who’s eaten a seared steak, some fried onions or a toasted marshmallow can appreciate this reaction. At any rate, growing black garlic isn’t a possibility, but if you keep reading, you’ll find out how to make black garlic of your own.

How to Make Black Garlic

Black garlic can be purchased at many stores or online, but some folks want to try to make it themselves. To these people, I salute you. Black garlic isn’t difficult to make per se, but it does require time and precision.

First, select clean, unblemished whole garlic. If the garlic needs to be washed, allow it to dry completely for 6 hours or so. Next, you can purchase a black garlic fermenting machine or make it in a slow cooker. And a rice cooker works pretty well too.

In a fermenting box, set the temp to 122-140 F. (50-60 C.). Place the fresh garlic into the box and set the humidity to 60-80% for 10 hours. After that time has elapsed, change the setting to 106 F. (41 C.) and the humidity to 90% for 30 hours. After the 30 hours are up, change the setting again to 180 F. (82 C.) and a humidity of 95% for 200 hours. If you do not wish to purchase a fermenting machine, then try to follow the same temperature setting with your rice cooker.

At the end of this last phase, black garlic gold will be yours and ready to incorporate into marinades, rub on meat, smear on crostini or bread, stir into risotto or just lick it off your fingers. It really is that good!

Benefits of Black Garlic

The major benefit of black garlic is its heavenly flavor, but nutritionally it has all the same benefits of fresh garlic. It is high in antioxidants, those cancer fighting compounds, which makes it a healthy additive to almost everything, although I’m not sure about black garlic ice cream.

Black garlic also ages well and, in fact, gets sweeter the longer it is stored. Store black garlic for up to three months in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

What looks a bit like garlic, or rather a whole clove of roasted garlic, only blacker in color? Black garlic. Never heard of it? Click the article that follows for some fascinating black garlic information and learn how to make black garlic of your own.