Black garlic is a product of ageing regular garlic bulbs over the course of weeks or months, which requires strictly regulated temperature and humidity to achieve the perfect consistency and colour. The change in color is caused by the Maillard reaction. In short, it is a process of a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its distinctive flavour. Such as, the browning of various meats when seared or grilled, coffee roasting and the browning and umami taste in fried onions. Most people would assume it’s a caramelization process but it is not, even though the results can be similar to the naked eyes.
In this particular Maillard process, it’s a fresh raw garlic that changes with time through the use of low heat and humidity of about 70%. During this process, the cloves turn a distinct black colour which gives off the name of black garlic. Not just that, it’s texture and flavour change as well. It is softer, chewier, and sweeter than regular white garlic.
The process takes patience to achieve the super sweet result. It is about time, it takes a maximum of 90 days to achieve the taste of a black garlic. Start with fresh raw garlic bulbs that are kept at high temperature and humidity for days. At day 30, the bulbs are slowly changing colour into brown-ish. It will start changing colour to black and producing higher levels of antioxidants at day 40. The garlic taste and smell is lost while natural essential nutrients are retained at day 60. The moisture of garlic and pH decreased along with the fermentation process, whereas the reducing sugar and total acidity were accumulated at this point. And at day 90, the Maillard process is complete. The garlic has its own black colour with a soft chewy texture which gives off a pleasant smell as it removes the strong unpleasant flavour of fresh garlic. Not just that this process also improves its nutrient composition, bioactivities, and taste values.
While, black garlic seems to be a new wonder for the culinary world, it’s actually been around and in use for centuries. It started in Asia such as Thailand, South Korea, and Japan. They have produced and used black garlic as a traditional food for centuries, especially for their soba or noodle dishes. During recent years, black garlic has received a remarkable growth of consumption demand and profitability and has become one of the most well known and prominent products in nutraceuticals and functional food markets.
After being introduced in the market in the last few decades, black garlic has become known as super food. One reason for its popularity is that black garlic has twice the amount of antioxidants than white garlic and other key nutrients that can help to improve your health and prevent serious health-related issues such as diabetes symptoms or kidney dysfunction. As it contains wide-range biological functions other than antioxidants, it is also high in allicin and amino acids. It’s anti-inflammatory that prevents impair memory and worsens brain function over time. Associated with lower cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, it’s anticancer, lowering hyperlipidemia, anti-obesity, hepatoprotective, and neuroprotective effects.
The best part of all is with a softer, molasses-like flavour, it is such a versatile option. It's a more delicate option than the raw bulb with added health benefits and can be swapped out for regular garlic in most recipes. It is a great addition to any cheese plate, bruschetta, chicken dishes, noodles or even as topper on pizza. It also gives that extra kick to a homemade vinaigrette, or your own kitchen essential seasoning such as salt.