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certified organic black garlic

Black Garlic

What is Black Garlic?

Black garlic is a type of aged garlic that is deeply coloured brown to black. It was first used as a food ingredient in Pan Asian cuisine. Contrary to belief, Black Garlic is NOT a plant variety that can be grown; instead, it is achieved by a process. You cannot buy Black Garlic seeds and plant them, so be careful of fraudsters on Amazon stores as they claim to sell Black Garlic seeds for planting.


Brief History

There is an ongoing debate on the origins of Black Garlic. Some say it was from China, others Japan or Korea. There has not been any clear recorded history of where the first Black Garlic was made. But in 2004, a South Korean man named Scott Kim invented an oven that could routinely produce batches of black garlic. So, in a way, it can be claimed that Korea perfected the method of developing Black Garlic using modern techniques.


After his oven's invention, Mr. Kim formed a California-based company that started its distribution within the U.S. In 2007, Michael and Karen (Owners of Blue Fortune Farm located in Watertown, Wisconsin) replicated Mr. Kim's process. They were able to test cook 500 pounds of garlic while using the trial-and-error methodology. They figured out how to bring black garlic that was produced locally into the USA market.


It was introduced to the U.S. culinary world via a 2005 Iron Chef episode. In Canada, Chef Mark McEwan's store was one of the first that carried it in Toronto.


While black garlic's "fermentation" history is not as ancient as mead's or as varied as Kim-chi, the flavour profile and uniqueness that it brings is worth exploring.



How is Black Garlic Made?

There are two schools of thought that are widely adopted regarding how Black Garlic is made. Although often described as "fermentation," the actual process involves the enzymatic browning (caramelization of the sugars) known as the Maillard reaction. This is a highly complex process that includes the reaction between reducing sugars and amino acids (proteins) by the impact of heat.

The Maillard reaction starts with a reducing sugar reacting with an amine, creating glycosyl amine. In the cooking process, Maillard reactions can produce hundreds of different flavour compounds depending on the chemical constituents in the food, the temperature, the cooking time, and the presence of air. These compounds, in turn, often break down to form more complex flavour compounds similar to the taste of seared meat and fried onions yet.

Heat is a critical component in producing Black Garlic. By heating whole bulbs of fresh garlic in a high humidity-controlled environment in temperatures of 60ºC (140ºF) to 85ºC (185ºF) for 15 - 90 days, these "low heat cooking" creates the characteristic dark colour and deep, complex flavour.

As the garlic turns from white to black, its flavour shifts from spicy to sweet and savoury – this process produces melanoidin - a sweet-meets-savoury flavour with a stickiness similar to the texture of figs. This process makes raw garlic lose its pungent odour and spicy taste. Black Garlic is the result of non-microbial chemical and biochemical transformations rather than proper fermentation. No additives or preservatives are used ... just garlic – a single ingredient. The taste is sweet with hints of balsamic vinegar or tamarind/molasses. Flavour scientists have used the Maillard reaction over the years to make artificial flavours.

Bacterial endophytes (good bacillus) capable of fermentation and strong heat resistance have been identified in common garlic and black garlic. These may have relevance to black garlic production, but studies are still ongoing or inconclusive.

Popularity & Benefits:

Black garlic's popularity has spread worldwide as it has become a sought-after ingredient used in home-cooking and high-end cuisine. In the last decade, it has gained more popularity in the culinary world in the West. Recently it gained credibility as a health food due to studies revealing its impressive nutritional properties.

While the end-product is maybe messy to unwrap, it is worth getting fingers sticky just to experience this new flavour. The "fermentation" also enhances the white bulbs with an extra chock full of antioxidants (double), vitamin C, and antibacterial components without the funky after-taste and garlic breath. Black garlic contains 12.3 grams of protein to raw garlic's 3.3 grams and 5.84 grams of S-Allycysteine, a natural cancer-fighting compound. It is also gluten-free.


Culinary Uses:

The Black Garlic "garlic" flavour is softened depending on the length of time it is prepared at low heat. Its flavour is also dependent on the quality of fresh garlic that was used. Garlic with a higher sugar content produces a milder, more balsamic/caramel-like flavour., while garlic with low sugar content produces a sharper, more acidic taste. This characteristic is similar in tomato paste as well. Burnt flavours may be present if the garlic was heated for too long or too high, or not long enough: The garlic turns black in colour well before the full extent of its sweetness is fully developed during the heating process.

Black garlic can be eaten as-is, on bread, or used in soups, sauces, marinades, cream-based sauces, crushed into any mayonnaise base or simply tossed into a vegetable dish. A salad dressing can be made with black garlic (works best with balsamic), sherry vinegar, soy sauce, any neutral oil, and Dijon mustard. Its texture softens with water content.

Unlike raw white garlic, black garlic has a very subtle and muted flavour that is easily overpowered. Because of its delicate and subtle flavours, a larger quantity of black garlic must be used compared to raw white garlic to achieve the same intensity. Also, black garlic cannot be used in place of raw white garlic. If a distinct garlic flavour is required, then fresh garlic must be added.

A quick method to release Black Garlic's subtle flavour is to puree it in a small amount of neutral-tasting oil, then add the mixture into whatever food you would like to use. This paste can be refrigerated and used whenever needed. The paste may also be added to foods that are otherwise neutral in flavour, e.g. mashed potatoes, stews, or sauces to showcase the black garlic as a taste booster.

It is a common misconception that black garlic has a "meaty" flavour. It does not. It is commonly eaten as-is by Black Garlic enthusiasts, who sometimes equate the taste to a savoury, slightly acidic caramel toffy or tamarind. The most prominent flavour it imparts is sweetness when used in high concentrations. When used in low concentrations, if there are no other flavours to compete with black garlic, the taste and aroma are similar to balsamic vinegar.

There are recipes for making donuts and chocolate with black garlic online, so experimentation is encouraged. You can chop up the Black Garlic & mix it with butter, then spread it over bread if you want to consume it directly or use it as a garnish over steak or pair it with goat cheese as a new topping for bruschetta. The rich black cloves would make an exciting centrepiece for a Mediterranean platter, and it would be a great addition to most pasta or meat sauces. Black garlic would be a great addition to a sweet and savoury pizza. Try adding a slight variation to that guacamole or hummus recipe that you like fiddling with. Mince up some cloves and throw them in the wok at the end of a stir fry. If you're feeling adventurous, whip up some black garlic bread pudding. Simmer it with maple syrup and drizzle the mixture over ice cream or frosted cake.

Health Benefits:

Many people are familiar with Black Garlic's superfood status in the culinary world; however, its health benefits have been very low key. Black Garlic is an immune system booster & anti-viral agent. Its conversion process from fresh garlic to black garlic increases its potent antioxidant properties, s-allyl cysteine (SAC) and hundreds of polyphenols (phytochemicals). It becomes packed with high concentrations of highly beneficial sulphur.

The possibilities. are only limited by your imagination. Please explore this new flavour on your own, and let us know what exciting combination you came up with!

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