Black Garlic is sometimes called fermented, however, the process is more like slow-roasting. Whole garlic cloves are held for 2 to 6 weeks at a temperature of 140 F. Natural sugars caramelize gradually, and the garlic turns brown, then black. In the meantime, the garlic cloves ferment and grow beneficial bacteria which promote healthy intestines.
Black garlic flavor is less pungent than raw garlic, Black garlic produces a fragrance close to that of an aged balsamic with mild, sour notes. Many people find it very salty. The flavor depends on the form of garlic used, the length of time the garlic is roasted and the process of aging.
What Are the Health Benefits of Black Garlic?
Black garlic has the health benefits of a regular garlic, plus only a few more. This is also easier for some people to eat than raw garlic. The black garlic should be eaten daily and used extensively in cooking to obtain the full benefits. Here are just a few reasons why you should eat black garlic:
- Black garlic has 10 times more antioxidants than raw garlic;
- Strong antiviral effects;
- Strong anti-tumor effects;
- Potent anti-inflammatory;
- Increases “good” HDL cholesterol for a healthy heart;
- Decreases or prevents an allergic response;
- Benefits liver and reduces liver damage from alcohol;
- It helps prevent colon cancer.
Related: Lost Remedies from Our Forefathers
How to Make Black Garlic
Here are the steps I used to make black garlic in the rice cooker:
- Choose fresh, healthy-looking cloves of garlic. Pearly garlic or single clove garlic works well. I like the flavor of purple streaked garlic. Do not use any cloves that are dried out, splitting, or that have begun to sprout.
- Clean the garlic and remove any loose skin on paper and any visible dirt. You can wipe the garlic with a damp cloth but don’t put it under running water. We want it to be dry on the outside and naturally moist on the inside.
- Place the garlic in the frying pan. I place it in a baking bag or a crock pot liner and tie it together. This keeps in moisture and prevents drying out the garlic. This still holds much of the odor. If you don’t use the bag you’re going to want to place the cooker in the garage or a spot out of the way to control the heavy garlic odor.
- Close and set the rice cooker to “Keep Warm.” Do not press the “heat” button. Leave it on warm for 2 to 3 weeks. Check it regularly to make sure it is still on but don’t open it up. After a given time, some cookers will automatically cut off, so check your manual.
- At the 2- to 3-week point, I check the garlic. If it is nice and black, I remove it. Sometimes it will be more of a brown color and I let it go longer. Anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 weeks is appropriate. The garlic texture and flavor will change as it continues to roast. At 2 weeks the texture is like a soft fruit. After 3 weeks, it will be chewy and it continues to soften as more time passes. The flavor also evolves, becoming more like molasses the longer it goes.
- You can eat the black garlic at this stage or store it in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 6 months, or in the freezer for up to 1 year. Commercial black garlic age at 70 F and a high moisture content. Aging is usual from 10 to 45 days.
How to Use Black Garlic
You need to eat black garlic every day for the best health benefits so it makes sense to learn to use it in cooking. Wherever standard garlic is necessary it can be substituted but the flavor is sweeter and less pungent. Based on the desired taste, you may want to add both raw and black garlic, or a greater portion of black garlic.
I add dehydrated black garlic to capsules as well as cooking, and take it as a supplement every day.
Dehydrating Black Garlic for Future Use
I make 12 to 14 large cloves of black garlic at a time and then dehydrate some for use as a powdered seasoning. The cloves are soft, and they easily come out of the paper skin. Typically, I mash them slightly into a thin layer on a solid dehydrating sheet (if you don’t have a solid sheet, cover the mesh with plastic). I give it a whirl in my blender once the black garlic is dry until a fine black garlic powder is formed. Use black garlic powder instead of, or in addition to regular garlic powder.
It shrinks a lot when dehydrated, so you don’t end up with as much as you could have expected. If you’re tempted to make a bigger batch, it might take longer to achieve the same results. Using a lot of garlic in the rice cooker seems to slightly reduce the temperature.
There are other ways to make black garlic which you can find on the internet. I assume that they will all work for as long as you can consistently keep the temperature at or above 140 F. Some methods use higher temperatures but a higher temperature gives a bitterer flavor, and some healthy properties may be lost. But these are just my findings, without any objective evidence, so you can judge for yourself.