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Black Garlic, Welcome to the Dark Side

A deep umamai flavour, with notes of caramel, a hint of bitterness and an underlying sweetness – Black Garlic is a lingering layer of flavours that will have you head over heals for the dark side.

The Food Gypsy kitchen is no stranger to garlic.  From the fresh green taste of spring scapes, to wild pickled, big bulbs of fresh garlic, hung to dry from the pot rack even confited garlic and garlic oil.  Simply put, we’re hooked on the stuff.  The first time you pick up black garlic you’ll probably do what I did and put it right back down again.  The bulb feels soft and squishy, much like garlic well past it’s prime.  Actual words in my head: So, this is what we’re doing now, we’re marketing rotten garlic as ‘black garlic’?!  Nope, we’re not.  Amazing where a little research can take you.

Welcome to the Dark Side…

A common ingredient in the kitchens of Korea, black garlic is often referred to as fermented, but it’s not.  That deep, dark colour comes from the break down of natural sugars and amino acids, producing melanoidin, thanks to our old kitchen friend the Maillard reaction; responsible for the sear on your steak and the brown crusty on your bread.  It would perhaps be more actuate to call black garlic caramelized; cooked in controlled humidity at 140°F (60°C) for forty days then dry cured, leaving it dark, syrupy and completely void of the microbial action synonymous with fermentation.

So no, black garlic is not a kin to a kimchi, sauerkraut or rotting roadkill, it’s more closely related to highfalutin sousvide cooking.  Which just goes to show you, once again, that everything we think of as modern gastronomy are often centuries old techniques, brought up to speed in today’s kitchen.

Explore more:  The Dirty Secrets & Deep Flavor of Black Garlic by Caroline Hatchett

Nutrition & Healthy Bits

Garlic is one of nature’s most complex medicinal foods, high in antioxidants, it helps to boast the immune system, reduce inflammation, and improve cardiovascular health.  Mentioned in historical documents dating back more than 5,000 years garlic has been used to cure everything from insect bites to gangrene, it’s also used to cleanse the body of heavy metals like mercury and lead… and ward off vampires.  (It’s one versatile bulb!)

Once processed, black garlic takes on twice the healing power of it’s raw counterpart.  In a 2009 study in Japan, published in Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Technology , black garlic was found to dramatically reduce the size of cancer tumors in mice.  Void of all chemicals and additives, black garlic’s only ingredient is garlic, making it 100% gluten free and huge in SAC, calcium, phosphorus and protein.

Deeper reading:  Black Garlic & Sprouted Garlic Have Heath Benefits by Dr. Joseph Mercoda

In The Kitchen

A mellow garlic flavour, minus the heat and acidity of the raw product, with an unmistakable flavour all it’s own, black garlic works well with fish, chicken, beef, burgers, in a sauce and even on the sweet side of the kitchen, where I’ve seen it used with caramelized bananas, gelatos and creams.  On Food Gypsy we rubbed it on a nice chunk of pork (to our great delight) in a super simple application to get a feel for the stuff.

“The force is with you, young Skywalker, but you are not a Jedi yet.” ~ Darth Vader

A boon to any food fan, try it as a treat.  Keep your eyes peeled (see what I did there?) for this black beauty at your favorite local gourmet shop.

The dark side… it’s yummy!  


Black Garlic, second - Food Gypsy

Cori Horton

Cooking in her home kitchen just outside Ottawa, Canada; Cori Horton is a food photographer and recipe blogger. A Cordon Bleu-trained Chef, Cori spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn and has been sharing all things delicious - right here - since 2010.

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