Tuesday, December 22, 2020 / by Vinny Steo
Black garlic, fermented with heat for 30 days, has a sweet but savory taste that is completely different from untreated garlic. It is appearing in more markets and restaurants and is gaining fans partly because it does not give heartburn or bad breath. It's rich in antioxidants and has a mild flavor with sweet notes, hints of garlic, dried black Mission figs and caramel.
Just as kimchi is fermented cabbage, black garlic is garlic that has been fermented with heat. When heated at a fairly high temperature for 30 days, the natural sugar in the garlic is drawn out and the result is a bulb with a tan exterior and peeled cloves that are black.
Though aged garlic has been around for centuries in Asia, it has only been catching on with American chefs, when food scientist Scott Kim began marketing his brand of black garlic. Fans say antioxidant-rich black garlic is the next superfood behind blueberries and wild salmon.
The fermentation process changes the properties of the sugar and amino acids in a hard, white head of garlic, producing the melanoidin that turns the cloves black, while the peel remains a dirty white.
It is nothing more than garden-variety garlic, Allium sativum that is fermented with heat for 30 days and packaged to sell for twice the price, but the taste is entirely different. You can eat it raw or cooked without experiencing heartburn or garlic breath.
(By the way, elephant garlic is a different variety, more closely related to a leek. It has a very mild garlic flavor and a texture that's more like a potato.)
Steep it in warm water for three to four days, he says, then puree before adding it to a recipe. That way, the flavor is not as pungent and won't overwhelm the dish.
Black garlic is not a substitute for white garlic. I didn't try it in the classic Italian recipe Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic, but my bet is that you'd want to use far fewer than 40 cloves, and the result would be an Asian, not an Italian, dish.