Black garlic has a sweet and smooth taste that’s enough to get any home cook cum foodie hooked. While you might have stumbled across it on YouTube cooking videos and gone into a rabbit hole of discovery, black garlic isn’t new. It’s been in use as traditional medicine and flavor for centuries.
Unfortunately, making black garlic isn’t a walk in the park. You are bound to have lots of failed attempts, especially when working alone. To increase your odds of success and improve your experience preparing it, we’ve shared some great preparation techniques you can use to make black garlic at home.
But first, let’s understand what black garlic is.
What Is Black Garlic?
First, black garlic isn’t the same thing as roasted garlic. Instead, black garlic starts as normal white garlic. Then, you’ll slowly transform it to dark brown using a low heat environment over a few weeks. During this time, the cloves change color, flavor, and texture. The result is black cloves that were initially common in Asian cuisine but now are used in different cuisines around the world.
Black garlic is also known as aged black garlic or aged garlic.
In an attempt to fully understand the process of making black garlic, most home cooks have the following questions:
Is Black Garlic Fermented?
Some people claim that black garlic is fermented over one or two months. On the other hand, some argue that it’s not fermented and that the flavor, color, and texture changes are due to the Maillard reaction.
What’s A Maillard Reaction?
A Maillard reaction is a nonenzymatic reaction between amino acids and sugars that occur when heating, and that results in the browning of garlic and other foods like bread, toasted marshmallows, and bread. The reaction is responsible for the potent aroma that fills the room when cooking.
What Is Fermentation?
Fermentation is the breakdown of a substance into other substances using microbes like yeast or bacteria. For example, black garlic is aged in a warm and humid environment, and the pungent enzymes in white garlic are broken down in the process. The enzyme breakdown takes place over time which differentiates it from Maillard reactions like toasting bread or marshmallows.
So Which Is Which?
From research, the browning and change in texture and flavor are largely attributed to the Maillard reaction. No microorganisms contribute to the enzyme breakdown process.
Also, most black garlic preparation methods involve high temperatures that are too high for true fermentation to occur.
What Does Black Garlic Taste Like?
Most people tasting regular garlic for the first time expect a strong, pungent smell that they are used to with regular white garlic. Instead, however, they experience a smooth, sweet, and deep taste similar to that of balsamic vinegar reduction.
Moreover, the texture changes completely from slightly crunchy to smooth and soft. In some instances, it’s jelly-like. Some home cooks compare the taste of black garlic to tamarind. While it’s not as tangy, black garlic has a similar texture, appearance, and flavors.
We have to admit it’s not easy to describe the taste – you have to try it for yourself.
Which Is Better? Black Or White Garlic?
The answer to which is better depends on your goals and preferences. White and black garlic heads are different and different people will undoubtedly prefer one to the other. It’s not shocking to find some who love both and use either, depending on their recipe.
With that said, the beauty of black garlic is that it’s easier to eat it alone than white raw garlic. So if you eat garlic for its health benefits but have a hard time consuming enough, try black garlic. But, be warned, they can be addictive, and you might find yourself consuming a bunch of cloves at once.
Is Black Garlic Healthier Than White Garlic?
Aside from its sweet flavor and being easier to eat, it has more health benefits than raw white garlic. Both white and black and white garlic has allicin, but black garlic has a lesser amount. Also, black garlic has a higher amount of S-Ally-Cysteine that the body absorbs with ease. S-Ally-Cysteine is responsible for most of garlic’s health benefits.
Moreover, black garlic has double the number of antioxidants white garlic has and has lesser anti-inflammatory properties than white garlic.
Below is a general comparison of their nutritional components in two tablespoons of each:
- 40 calories
- 1 gram protein
- 1 gram dietary fiber
- 2 grams fat
- 4 grams carbohydrates
- 2.2 milligrams vitamin C (4 percent DV)
- 160 milligrams sodium (7 percent DV)
- 20 milligrams calcium (2 percent DV)
- 0.64 milligrams iron (4 percent DV)
Ps: black garlic also contains traces of manganese, zinc, folate, phosphorous, vitamin C, and Vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6.
- 25 calories
- 1 gram protein
- 0.4-gram dietary fiber
- 5.6 grams carbohydrates
- 0.1-gram fat
- 5.2 milligrams vitamin C (9 percent DV)
- 3 milligrams sodium (0 percent DV
- 30 milligrams calcium (3 percent DV)
- 0.3-milligram iron (2 percent DV)
Health Benefits Of Black Garlic
Some black garlic health benefits include:
Controlling Blood Sugar
Like regular white garlic, black garlic helps in regulating blood sugar levels. Reducing high blood sugars helps keep serious health problems like diabetes and kidney dysfunction at bay. In addition, since black garlic has higher antioxidant levels, it helps to prevent diabetes-related complications.
White garlic helps to improve heart health. In the same way, black garlic offers some protective effects. Black garlic might also help to reduce cholesterol levels which reduces your predisposition to developing heart-related diseases.
Studies show that the antioxidant properties in black garlic might help fight some types of cancer. For instance, it can help slow down the growth of colon cancer cells. In addition, the compounds in black garlic might block free radicals and reduce cell damage which eventually limits the growth and spread of cancer cells.
With the antioxidants, black garlic helps in reducing inflammation and preventing cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It can also help in improving memory and other cognitive functions.
Through the reduction of inflammation, antioxidants in black garlic boost the immune system. Antioxidants help in fighting free radicals and preventing oxidative stress, which causes cell damage. With a strong immune system, the body can fight off bacteria and infections effectively.
Black garlic can help to improve liver health. Research shows that it reduces liver injury markers after liver damage, rebalances the size of liver cells, and reduces fat deposits in the liver.
How Much Black Garlic Should You Eat Daily?
The recommended daily dosage is between 2 – 10 grams a day. This is because a black garlic clove weighs between 1 and 5 grams. So having 0ne of two cloves daily is a good goal.
Why Should You Make Black Magic?
Black garlic is healthy and delicious but expensive. So while you can buy it for one or two recipes, it gets too expensive when you consume it daily.
Luckily, you can make it at home in a few simple and easy steps. By making it yourself, you choose the size and quality of garlic cloves you want and save a lot of money in the process.
How To Make Black Garlic
Slow Cooker Method
Some people have had great success cooking black garlic in a slow cooker at a low heat setting. They keep the slow cooker in the ‘warm’ setting for several weeks.
While it’s possible, this method isn’t without flaws. For one, on the third day, your home will be filled with the garlic smell. Moreover, most slow cookers’ lowest settings are too high to prepare black garlic successfully. The result is likely to be a small black and dehydrated individual cloves resembling charcoal.
And even the few that have a low-temperature setting between 120 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit, the slow cookers will run hot. Eventually, you’ll put your safety at risk and spend a fortune.
Rice Cooker Method
Other people use rice cookers to make black garlic at home. Unlike slow cookers, rice cookers have lower warm temperature settings. As such, they are better to use than slow cookers.
However, like with slow cookers, you’ll have to check on the progress periodically. Every time you check, the pot loses moisture and adds to the time needed to complete cooking.
Aside from slow cookers and rice cookers, you can use a proofer.
A proofer is a chamber that holds heat and humidity for long periods. They are used to hold unbaked bread in the perfect environment to ensure a perfect rise. But they don’t come in handy for bread fermentation using yeast alone.
Instead, they are also great for keeping ferments at perfect temperatures, making them perfect for making yogurt. You can also use it to temper chocolate or as a slow cooker since it allows you to cook at specific temperatures.
The beauty of using it as a slow cooker is that you can use stainless steel pans instead of ceramic pots that slow cookers come with. Stainless steel doesn’t have toxicity concerns like a ceramic glaze.
To reduce the garlic smell, wrap the pot with aluminum foil. Make sure the pot is completely in contact with the aluminum plate heater. Also, placing several whole garlic heads in the pot helps you get a more intense aroma.
Proofers consume little electricity. Unlike pressure cookers that run at 1000 watts, proofers only use 200 watts. Assuming the proofer runs the entire time, it’d consume 0.2kW an hour. But because it runs only a third of the time for temperature regulation, it’d only use 0.06kW/h. This is the same energy consumption as a 60W light bulb.
Using Black Fermenters
With black garlic becoming more and more popular, it’s not a shock that manufacturers would develop easy, safe, and cost-effective tools to use. Black garlic fermenters are one of the new black garlic cooking technologies available today.
A black garlic fermenter is a small appliance, similar to a rice cooker designed specifically for black garlic cooking.
Which Is The Ideal Black Garlic Cooking Method?
Though we recommend using the proofer for cooking black garlic, you can explore the other methods too. Below are their pros and cons.
Rice Cooker/Slow Cooker
To make black garlic using a rice cooker or a slow cooker, you should use the keep warm setting. If your cooer doesn’t have this setting, use the lowest setting available.
- Cookers are common appliances, and you probably have one in your kitchen. So you don’t have to spend money on a new appliance.
- Cookers use a lot of electricity when cooking, making it expensive, especially since they have to run for three weeks or more.
- Your rice cooker will be unavailable for other recipes.
If you are testing the making process, a slow/rice cooker is a great place to start if you have one already.
Black Garlic Fermenter
- This is one of the quickest methods to prepare black garlic. It takes about 12 days since it’s designed specifically for making black garlic.
- They are economical. Most black garlic fermenters are said to use 2.16kW a day and can prepare between 20 and 30 garlic at a time.
- You cannot use the equipment for anything else. So unless you intend to make black garlic regularly, buying the fermenter would be a waste of cash.
- They only have a non-stick coating
- A proofer consumes minimal electricity to maintain ideal temperatures.
- It folds up and doesn’t take up a lot of storage space
- The appliance isn’t cheap. If you don’t make bread or chocolate, you might end up buying an appliance you won’t use often
After aging, you should keep your black garlic wrapped and in a refrigerator. You can also choose to peel your cloves and store them in an airtight container.
Alternatively, you can store it at room temperature for a month or more. But be warned your black garlic may dry out and not be the best flavor and texture.
In a refrigerator, black garlic can last for 3-6 months. If you freeze it, it can last for a year.
As we’ve stated, black garlic has is soft, sticky, and has a savory and rich flavor that’s different from regular garlic. You can use it in beef, lamb, seafood, poultry, risottos, aiolis, eggs, pizzas, and dessert dishes. First, however, it would be best to learn how to make it right, which only comes through trial and error.
What Makes Black Garlic Chewy?
Black garlic is slightly dehydrated. Think of them like raisins and grapes. Raisins are chewy, and grapes are crisp. The same difference exists between black garlic and white garlic.
Why Is Black Garlic Sweet?
During cooking, carbohydrates are converted into simple sugars, giving them a sweet taste. Think of how brown rice becomes brown rice syrup. Rice isn’t sweet. But after the Maillard reaction, the starch in brown rice is broken down to make sweet brown rice syrup.
Do All Black Garlic Taste The Same?
No, they don’t. Just like all cheeses don’t. Black garlic bulbs from different manufacturers have different flavor profiles depending on the aging and cooking processes: manufacturers and home cooks who take their time cooking black garlic end up with the best flavor.
How Long Does It Take To Make Black Garlic?
Depending on the cooking process you use, it can take anywhere between 12 days to 6 weeks. Once it’s ready, you can use it in salad dressings or as a pizza topper.