Black Garlic: Garlic’s Flavorful Shadow

As if we couldn’t love garlic even more, along comes black garlic. This aged garlic is complex, umami-packed, and incredibly versatile, and we can’t get enough of it.

What Does Black Garlic Taste Like?

Black garlic is savory and earthy with surprisingly sweet and fruity undertones. It’s reminiscent of aged balsamic or molasses with the umami quality of soy sauce. Though black garlic is made from aged garlic, the garlicky flavor is much more delicate than you may expect, and it lacks the sharpness and pungency you get in raw or even roasted garlic.

Image Credit: Flickr user avlxyz ( CC BY-SA 2.0 )

How Is Black Garlic Made?

To make black garlic, whole heads of garlic are fermented at a controlled temperature and humidity for anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months. The longer a head of black garlic is aged, the less pronounced the garlic flavor will be. During this aging process, the enzymes that give garlic its strong flavor break down and a Maillard reaction takes place, developing the garlic’s flavor, deepening its color to a warm black, and transforming it into a soft date-like consistency. 

What to Do With Black Garlic

One mistake to avoid with black garlic is trying to use it as a substitute for other forms of garlic. The complex flavor of black garlic is wholly different from its (equally delicious) counterparts and much more delicate. However, you can use it in a lot of the same ways and achieve stunning results.

Image Credit: Flickr user avlxyz ( CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Incorporate black garlic into vinaigrette, mayonnaise, or compound butter to bring an addictive earthy sweetness that can elevate any savory dish. Pair it with any greens or protein for an effect similar to balsamic glaze. Simple fare like this spring steak salad can be transformed with a little black garlic butter.

If you’re trying black garlic for the first time, you can experience its full flavor by mashing a clove over a piece of buttered crusty bread with a sprinkle of salt. You can also blend it into classic mashed potatoes. It’s just as addictive and versatile as fresh or roasted garlic but in a completely new way.

Feature Image: Flickr user angelhsu ( CC BY 2.0 )

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