Black garlic? What is it? Is it a variety of garlic? Not many people have heard of this mysterious black gem before, and even fewer have tasted it. Rich in both flavour and antioxidants, black garlic is gaining in popularity in western society, where it tends to be used more, as a gourmet ingredient bringing a dish to life with its unique flavour.
WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
The exact origins of black garlic are unknown and somewhat controversial, but it has been produced and widely used in various parts of Asia, including Korea, China, and Japan where it is enjoyed on its own and consumed for its health benefits.
HOW IS IT PRODUCED?
Black garlic is so named because of its matte-black appearance. It is commonly referred to as “fermented” garlic but given there is no microbial action, this is somewhat inaccurate. The unique colour, flavour and texture of black garlic are due to enzymatic breakdown, from the slow conversion of the natural sugars combining with the amino acids found in garlic, during a process known as the maillard reaction. This requires the perfect combination of heat, humidity and time, resulting in a completely natural product. There are no preservatives, no flavours and no colours added to the garlic.
WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?
Heavenly! Black garlic tastes nothing like raw garlic. The sharp and pungent flavour that once was, slowly transforms during the maillard reaction as the cloves deepen in colour and its texture changes from firm to a prune-like consistency that melts in your mouth without the associated “garlic breath” afterwards. The flavour develops into the perfect mix of sweet and savoury flavours, with subtle notes of balsamic vinegar, caramel and tamarind, with a mellow garlic essence. Don’t be shy about trying black garlic. Most people are pleasantly surprised after taking their first bite. If you are not a fan of regular garlic, you actually might like black garlic instead.
HOW TO USE IT
Black garlic can be likened to dried fruit, in a preserved state and does not require cooking. It’s perfect to enjoy on its own for its health benefits, add to salad, pizza, pasta or an antipasto plate. Spread onto crostini or incorporate it into dressings.