The Black Garlic Story
Never heard of it? Up to three years ago, I too was oblivious to this amazing natural food ingredient. However, since then, life for theQuirkyCook has never been the same.
In this article, I aim to fill you in on the secret of this “black beauty” and how, after 10 years as an artisan producer of handmade chutneys and relishes, it has stirred both my imagination and passion to create exciting new products that offer a unique sensory experience.
So, how does garlic become black? You may be surprised to learn that the unique colour, taste and texture of black garlic are accomplished without any additives. Black garlic is produced by fermentation; a technique that has been around for thousands of years.
Garlic contains sugars and amino acids. When garlic undergoes fermentation, these elements produce Melanoidin, a dark-coloured substance that is responsible for the colour of black garlic. The real magic happens during a carefully controlled process, to optimize the flavour and texture of fermented garlic.
“Ordinary” garlic bulbs are aged with heat and humidity then dried out on racks thus turning them black. This is garlic that you can enjoy eating without the after-effects of “garlic breath”.
The cloves are soft and almost black in colour. The flavours are deep, almost caramelised, with a sweet sour balance. There is a strong Umami kick and hints of aged balsamic, black cardamom, leather, smoke, tamarind and liquorice. Black garlic is a unique, truly artisan ingredient; special in its own way like Alba Truffles or Beluga Caviar.
Black garlic can be purchased in bulbs, peeled cloves, sea salt and sugar. I source my products from the award-winning South West Garlic Farm based in Dorset – their website is well worth a visit.
Meeting the producer...me with Mark "The Garlic" Botwright, South West Garlic Farm
In terms of its uses, there are many ways to enjoy black garlic products. For example, the sea salt is perfect for sprinkling over your roasties or a meat joint before going in the oven; it is equally delicious rubbed into steaks before grilling.
The sugar can be used to achieve the ultimate caramelisation, when cooking meat, fish, poultry and of course, pork sausages.
Both the sea salt and sugar add a unique depth of flavour and aroma to oil dressings, marinades, rubs and sauces, including mayonnaise.
And for black garlic cloves? Well that is an easy one. Quietly enjoy the simple pleasure of popping a few into your garlic press and watch the fine black strands empty themselves out at the other end…fascinating stuff. Then all you need to do is let your imagination run wild and be creative. There are no rules as to what you can and cannot do with this awesome ingredient…just be careful not to go into overkill as it does have a unique flavour that should add depth of flavour to food, not overpower it.
TOP HEALTH BENEFITS OF EATING GARLIC
- When garlic is chopped, chewed or bruised a chemical is produced called Allicin, a natural antibiotic. Just 1mg of Allicin has a potency of 15 units of penicillin.
- Helps increase good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol.
- Helps enhance athletic endurance and strength.
- Helps prevent and treat cancer. It also helps stop tumour growth.
- Helps to regulate blood pressure to a normal and healthy level.
- Helps to strengthen the immune system and stop allergies from occurring.
- Packed with nutrients: contains calcium, potassium, zinc, protein and Vitamins A, B, B2 and C.
- Helps to thin the blood and regulate the body’s blood sugar levels.