The Magic of Black Garlic
• WHAT IS BLACK GARLIC?
Simply put, it is garlic that has been roasted at a low temperature for a very long time – up to a month
• AND WHAT MAKES IT SO MYSTERIOUS?
Black Garlic has competing origin stories! By one account, the British chef Mark Botwright started making it after discovering a 4000 year old Korean recipe for back garlic. But by another account, black garlic was invented by a Korean entrepreneur named Scott Kim in 2004. So, what we’re looking at is either 4000 years old, or ten.
FACT: Black garlic is caramelized by heating slowly at low temperatures over several weeks
FACT: Black garlic’s competing origins; either 4000 years ago in Korea or 11 years ago in California
• WHY WOULD WE WANT TO ROAST GARLIC FOR SO LONG?
First and foremost, the reason we roast garlic is for flavor. Garlic stores energy in sugars (most root vegetables store energy in starches). When garlic is roasted, the sugars condense, the cell walls break down and we get the sticky sweet notes we love instead of the sharp pungent garlic that some find offensive. With black garlic this flavor is reminiscent of tamarind or balsamic vinegar, it’s chewy and dense and complex. But, the magic really happens when we examine this food on a chemical level. There are extreme health benefits!
FACT: Slow roasting increases the anti-oxidant properties of garlic
TASTE TEST CHALLENGE
Taste for yourself: Raw, Regularly roasted and black garlic. Notice the progression to sweeter and more dense from raw to black.
• WHAT ARE THE STEPS TO MAKING IT?
Black garlic sounds like something you have to search for in a specialty shop, but thanks to the invention of rice cookers we can make it at home! Rice cookers have a keep warm function, which is pretty standard at 140 degrees. Throw a few heads of garlic in the rice cooker, shut the lid, and hit keep warm. You can leave it for 10-40 days!
• WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF GARLIC?
In addition to anti-oxidant properties, garlic has all the B vitamins, C, and many minerals we all need every day including calcium, magnesium and zinc.
FACT: Garlic (Allium sativum) is part of the onion family
FACT: The bulb is the most commonly used part of the plant; leaves and flowers are also edible
FACT: Garlic has: vitamins B 1 – 6, Folate, C, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium and Zinc
FACT: Store garlic in a warm dry place; it is commonly hung
• IS BLACK GARLIC BETTER FOR YOU THAN REGULAR GARLIC?
Raw garlic contains a sulfur heavy substance called Allicin. Allicin is a powerful antioxidant, but it unfortunately disappears with exposure to heat. When we roast garlic at 375 for 45 minutes, we trade many of the antioxidant powers for flavor compounds, but when we roast it even longer (like we do with black garlic) an entirely new set of antixidant compounds emerge! In fact black garlic has double the amount of antioxidants of raw garlic. What develops in black garlic is S-Allyl-Cycteine (SAC). This is another sulfur-rich antioxidant that is more bio-available, stable and readily absorbable than Allicin.
• HOW WOULD YOU USE BLACK GARLIC IN COOKING?
It melts into sauces – similar to solidified balsamic vinegar – rich and complex, or you can shave it over pasta and vegetables much like black truffles.
FACT: Black garlic can be added to sauces, energy drinks or even chocolate
FACT: Many claim it increases the consumer’s longevity
Get more from Dan Kohler at RenegadeKitchen.com