I was walking around the grocery store a while back and noticed some beautiful black garlic on the shelf. I’ve never seen them before so they definitely grabbed my attention and I went home to do further research.
It is a highly regarded medicinal food in Japan, Korea, Canada, Australia and growing in popularity around the world. Well-known Aomori black garlic is from northern Japan and aged for 45-60 days. It is believed to help those with diabetes and high blood pressure. It’s also great for skin and stamina. Aged black garlic supplements are now available in capsules, tablets, extract and powder form. The process of making black garlic is quite simple and doesn’t require any additives. It is not only an easy process, but the end result is tasty and full of health benefits. Because it is made without additives (enzymes), it is not considered fermented, but aged.
How To Make Black Garlic
Peel the loose layer of skin from the garlic and line it in a single layer in a fermentation box set at 60ºC/140ºF. A rice cooker set on “warm” works just as well! This process takes about 10 to 14 days – you will know when you smell a savory sweetness similar to balsamic vinegar that it is ready. Be sure to do this in a well-ventilated area. When you smell that it is ready, remove the garlic and allow them to continue to caramelize on a rack. You can choose to “dry” them whole or remove the cloves from the skin and put them single-layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for another week.
The garlic does not lose any of its raw health benefits. It is full of antioxidants and a compound called S-Allyl cysteine, which has cancer and tumor prevention properties. Black garlic has a sweet, flavor similar to tamarind and balsamic vinegar. It also gets sweeter as it ages and will last up to 3 months if refrigerated.
During the aging process, the sugars and amino acids in garlic naturally produce melanoidin. This compound is responsible for the garlic cloves becoming a dark, rich color.
Benefits of Black Garlic
The many benefits of garlic include lowering cholesterol, reducing inflammation, boosting the immune system, and it even cranks up our cardiovascular health in several ways. It is rich in sulfuric compounds that fight bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses. These are the reasons why it is considered a medicinal food.
Black garlic first showed up in Asian cuisines before spreading over Europe and finally in the US the last few years. Compared to its raw state, it has a mild, mellow flavor, and reminds a little of a chocolate-infused plum with a hint of garlic. Since my discovery I have used it many times over, salad dressing, roasted vegetables, soups, potatoes, rice dishes and so on. Other ideas when cooking with black garlic are aioli, bread, butter, cream sauces, vinaigrette, pesto, risotto – it is an endless list.
Aged black garlic gives a recipe an umami punch!
I got the idea for this recipe from a dish my mom used to make with farmers cheese, fresh garlic, herbs, olive oil, and spices. She would stuff red bell peppers with the spread and cut the pepper into half-inch rings before serving.
For this recipe, Farmers Cheese Spread with Black Garlic, the garlic gives the mild cheese a nice kick. I serve it on a toasted baguette – bruschetta style. Both ways are great for serving or you can serve it in a bowl and let your family and guests choose what to eat it with. Another way to present this is rolling it into balls and serving it on a cheese board along with other cheeses. Your pick!
Where to Buy Black Garlic Bulbs
Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Wegman’s are grocery stores that carry aged black garlic. You can also order them online.
- 1 pound farmers cheese
- 1 black garlic (whole or half)
- 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 lemon (juice and zest)
- Bunch of dill
- Sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste
- Mash black garlic with the fork in a big bowl.
- Add farmers cheese, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, chopped dill.
- Mix well.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve on a toast (other serving suggestions are mentioned in the article)
- You can add or use other spices like smoked paprika, ground cumin, cayenne or chili pepper, curry powder, or your favorite spice mix.
- If you want a creamier spread, add sour cream.