In 2004, a South Korean man named Scott Kim invented an oven that could routinely produce batches of black garlic. Black garlic is raw garlic that has been fermented in a special oven for a month at specific levels of heat and humidity, then aired out for a bit and vacuum-packed to store. It was introduced to the U.S. market via a 2005 Iron Chef episode. After his oven’s invention, Mr. Kim formed a California-based company that started distributing within the U.S. In 2007, Michael and Karen (Owners of Blue Fortune Farm located in Watertown) replicated Mr. Kim’s process. Cooking through 500 pounds of test garlic while using trial and error methodology, they figured out how to bring us black garlic produced locally. While black garlic’s fermentation history isn’t as ancient as mead’s or as varied as kim chi, the flavor that it brings about is definitely worth exploring.
During the fermentation process, melanoidin is produced which turns the cloves black and leaves them with a sweet-meets-savory flavor and a stickiness similar to the texture of figs. While the end-product is a little messy to unwrap, it is entirely worth getting sticky fingers to experience this new flavor. The fermentation also enhances the formerly white bulbs with an extra chock-a-block full of antioxidants, vitamin C, and antibacterial components without the funky breath that one normally associates with garlic. Black garlic contains 12.3 grams of protein to raw garlic’s 3.3 grams, and 5.84 grams of S-Allycysteine, a natural cancer fighting compound. It is also gluten-free.
There are recipes one can find for making donuts and chocolate with black garlic, so experimentation with this product is encouraged. It has a sweet balsamic vinaigrette flavor and the aroma of roasted garlic. Mix it with butter and spread it over bread if you want to consume it directly, or pair it with grated drunken goat Spanish sheep’s milk cheese as a new topping for bruschetta. The rich black cloves would make an interesting centerpiece for a Mediterranean platter, and it would be a great addition to most pasta or meat sauces. Black garlic would be a great addition to a sweet and savory pizza. Try adding a little variation to that guacamole or hummus recipe that you like fiddling with. Mince up some cloves and throw them in the wok at the end of a stir fry. If you’re feeling adventurous, whip up some black garlic bread pudding.
Please explore this new flavor on your own and let us know what you come up with!