Black Garlic: flavor enhancer with medicinal properties!

What is Black Garlic?

Black garlic is a type of garlic that has undergone a fermentation process, resulting in a dark, blackened appearance. It has a a unique flavor with a smooth, soft texture and a rich, sweet taste. The process involves exposing whole bulbs of garlic to high humidity and temperatures. This is done for an extended period of time, typically several weeks. It has gained popularity in recent years due to its distinct flavor and potential health benefits.

History & background

Black garlic history – the exact origin of black garlic is not well-documented, but it is believed to have originated in either Korea or Thailand several centuries ago. In both countries, it has a long history of traditional use in culinary and medicinal applications.

In Korea, it is known as “heum-saek” or “heuk-maang” garlic. It is said to have been discovered accidentally when fresh garlic bulbs were stored in a heated room for an extended period. The resulting blackened cloves were found to have a unique taste and aroma. It is a common ingredient in traditional Korean dishes such as kimchi, soups, and sauces.

In Thailand, it is called “krathiam dong” or “si krong muu.” It has been used in Thai cuisine as a flavor enhancer and is often added to dishes like stir-fries, curries, and marinades. It is also a common ingredient in traditional Thai herbal remedies and folk medicine.

In the late 2000s black garlic gained wider recognition in the Western culinary scene. It started to appear in high-end restaurants and gourmet markets, capturing the attention of chefs and food enthusiasts who were intrigued by its unique flavor and culinary possibilities.

Since then, it has become more accessible worldwide, and its popularity has continued to grow. Now available in various forms, you can buy whole cloves, peeled cloves, pastes, and powders. This makes it easier for consumers to incorporate it into their cooking.

Black garlic has also attracted a lot of attention for its potential health benefits. The fermentation process is believed to enhance the bioavailability of certain compounds in garlic, such as antioxidants. In fact some studies have suggested that black garlic may have stronger antioxidant properties than fresh garlic. However, further research is needed to fully understand and confirm these potential health benefits.

What form does it come in?

Black garlic is available in several different forms, allowing for various culinary uses and convenience.

  1. Whole Bulbs: This is the most common and traditional form of black garlic. Whole bulbs consist of individual cloves that have undergone fermentation. The cloves are soft, black, and have a sticky texture. They can be used whole or squeezed out from the bulb.
  2. Peeled Cloves: In this form, the cloves are already peeled and separated from the bulb. Peeled cloves are convenient for immediate use, as they eliminate the need to peel the cloves individually.
  3. Paste: The paste is made by pureeing or mashing the cloves. It has a smooth texture and is easy to incorporate into recipes. The paste is often used as a condiment, spread, or flavoring agent in various dishes.
  4. Powder: Black garlic powder is made by dehydrating and grinding the cloves. It has a fine texture and concentrated flavor. The powder can be used as a seasoning or added to sauces, marinades, or rubs.
  5. Extract: Extract is a concentrated form of black garlic that is often used for its potential health benefits.

The choice of form depends on personal preference and the intended culinary application. Whole bulbs and peeled cloves are versatile and can be used in cooking, while paste and powder offer convenience and ease of incorporation into recipes. It’s worth noting that different forms may have slightly different flavor profiles and intensities, so experimentation may be needed to find the preferred form and quantity for individual tastes.

90 day aged Black Garlic

RioRand Black Garlic – Fermented and aged for a full 90 days.

Enjoy the unique flavor of Black Garlic.
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2 lb airtight container – store in a cool dark space.

Is Black Garlic good for you?

Black garlic has gained attention not only for its unique flavor but also for its potential health benefits. While research on black garlic is still limited compared to fresh garlic, it shows promise in certain areas.

  1. Antioxidant properties: It is rich in antioxidants, including flavonoids and polyphenols. These compounds help protect the body against oxidative stress, which can lead to various chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders.
  2. Anti-inflammatory effects: Some studies suggest that it exhibits anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation is linked to several health problems, such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer. Black garlic’s potential anti-inflammatory effects may contribute to overall health and well-being.
  3. Immune system support: It contains compounds that may help enhance immune function. Also it may stimulate immune cells and improve their ability to combat pathogens, potentially reducing the risk of infections.
  4. Cardiovascular health: Research indicates that black garlic may have a positive impact on cardiovascular health. It may help reduce blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels by decreasing LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and increasing HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), and inhibit the formation of blood clots.
  5. Antimicrobial properties: It exhibits antimicrobial activity against certain bacteria and fungi. Also it may help fight against infections caused by these microorganisms, although more research is needed to determine the full extent of its antimicrobial effects.
  6. Digestive health: It contains prebiotic compounds that can support a healthy gut microbiome. Prebiotics serve as food for beneficial gut bacteria, promoting their growth and diversity, which is important for overall digestive health.

It’s important to note that while black garlic shows potential health benefits more research is needed to fully understand its effects. Additionally, it should be consumed as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

Flavor profile of Black Garlic

Black garlic has a unique and complex flavor profile that sets it apart from regular garlic. It undergoes a fermentation process that transforms the cloves into soft, dark brown or black bulbs with a sweet and savory taste. Here are some characteristics of the flavor profile of black garlic:

  1. Sweetness: It has a distinct sweetness, often compared to molasses or caramel. The sugars in the garlic caramelize during the fermentation process, giving it a rich and sweet flavor.
  2. Umami: It has a strong umami flavor, which is often described as savory and slightly meaty. It has a depth of flavor that adds complexity to dishes.
  3. Mild Garlic Flavor: Despite the transformation, black garlic still retains some garlic flavor. However, it is much milder and less pungent than raw garlic. The sharpness and spiciness of raw garlic are subdued, allowing other flavors to shine.
  4. Tanginess: It can have a subtle tanginess or acidity, similar to aged balsamic vinegar or tamarind. This tangy note adds a hint of brightness to the overall flavor profile.
  5. Earthy Undertones: There are earthy undertones present in black garlic, which contribute to its depth of flavor. These earthy notes can be reminiscent of mushrooms or aged cheese.
  6. Mellow and Complex: It has a well-rounded and multi-layered flavor profile. It combines sweetness, umami, mild garlic notes, tanginess, and earthiness, resulting in a complex and intriguing taste.

Overall, it offers a unique culinary experience with its sweet, savory, and umami-rich flavor profile, making it a sought-after ingredient in various dishes and cuisines.

Cooking with Black Garlic

Cooking with black garlic can add depth and complexity to a wide range of dishes.

  1. It can be used to enhance the flavor of sauces and marinades. Mash a few cloves into a paste and add it to your favorite sauce or marinade recipe. It works well in barbecue sauces, stir-fry sauces, salad dressings, and pasta sauces.
  2. Rub black garlic paste onto roasted meats, such as chicken, beef, or pork, before cooking. The sweet and savory flavors will infuse into the meat, adding richness and depth. You can also toss roasted vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, or Brussels sprouts, in it for an extra layer of flavor.
  3. Add it to soups and stews to enhance their taste. Whether it’s a hearty vegetable soup, a comforting beef stew, or a creamy potato soup, it can add a unique twist to the flavors. You can either add the cloves whole or blend them into the soup for a smoother texture.
  4. Incorporate it into pasta dishes and risottos. Mix black garlic paste into your pasta sauce or stir it into creamy risotto for a burst of flavor. It pairs well with both vegetarian and meat-based pasta dishes.
  5. Create flavorful spreads and dips with black garlic. Blend black garlic with cream cheese, sour cream, or Greek yogurt to make a delicious dip for chips, crackers, or vegetables. You can also use it as a spread on sandwiches or as a topping for bruschetta.
  6. Make your salad dressings more interesting combining black garlic paste with olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice. You can also throw in your favorite herbs for a unique and flavorful dressing. It pairs well with both leafy green salads and grain-based salads.

Common uses

Black garlic can be used for purposes beyond cooking.

  1. Health Supplements: It is known for its potential health benefits due to its antioxidant properties and the presence of certain compounds. It can be consumed as a health supplement in the form of capsules or tablets.
  2. Fermented Black Garlic Extract: Black garlic extract is a concentrated form of black garlic. It can be consumed directly or added to beverages, smoothies, or other recipes. It’s believed to have various health-promoting properties, including supporting cardiovascular health and boosting the immune system.
  3. Skin Care: Some people use black garlic topically as part of their skincare routine. Its antioxidant properties may help protect the skin from free radicals and promote a healthy complexion. You can make a homemade face mask with it by combining mashed black garlic with other natural ingredients like honey, yogurt, or avocado, and applying it to your face. However, be sure to perform a patch test first and discontinue use if you experience any adverse reactions.
  4. Gourmet Condiments: It can be utilized in the creation of gourmet condiments or artisanal products. It can be incorporated into specialty sauces, dressings, or salsas to enhance their flavor and create a unique culinary experience.
  5. Natural Dye: Due to its dark color, black garlic can be used as a natural dye. It can be used to add a deep brown or black hue to various DIY projects, such as dyeing fabrics, paper, or even Easter eggs. Keep in mind that it might have a distinct odor, so consider this factor when using it for dyeing purposes.
  6. Aromatic Decorations: Black garlic bulbs have an interesting appearance with their dark color and soft texture. They can be used as decorative elements in culinary presentations, food displays, or even as a centerpiece for special occasions.

Other alternatives

Finally, if you are looking for an alternative to black garlic then you could consider using roasted garlic, garlic powder, aged-balsamic vinegar, molasses, soy sauce, or Tamari. Each can bring a slightly different flavor to your dish.

Have a look at our substitutes section for ideas on what other herb you can use in place of black garlic.