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Black Garlic

Black garlic is a relatively new style of garlic that has become popular despite its rather unusual appearance and slightly sticky texture. People buy it both for its distinctive taste and for its claimed health benefits. It's used as a gourmet food in its own right and as a cooking ingredient in other dishes.

So what exactly is it, how do they make it and where can you buy it?

What Is Black Garlic?

Black garlic is not a special variety of garlic, rather it results from a special method of preparation. A slow fermentation process results in a product consisting of dark, somewhat sticky cloves.

As with traditional roast garlic, the black cloves have a sweet flavour rather than the stridency usually associated with the stinking rose. Some people detect a note of almost balsamic vinegar in the taste. The blackened cloves can be used as an ingredient of sauces, dips and salads as well as being used for cooking in a variety of recipes.

Where to Buy

Black garlic is associated with Korea in particular, however Korean black garlic is no longer the only variety for sale today. There are also producers in other countries such as the US and Japan and you can buy their various products at many specialist stores as well as online grocery stores.

Making

So how is black garlic made? In a word: slowly.

It's produced by taking ordinary garlic bulbs and fermenting them at a high temperature over a period of days or even weeks. Making black garlic thus takes time, and this is usually reflected in its price. It's still something of a luxury today, this might change if production increases.

Any ordinary variety of garlic can be used in the fermentation process, although obviously the best results come from starting with the best ingredients. Quality begets quality.

Health Claims

Since black garlic is a relatively new product on the market there are less anecdotal stories or scientific studies on its possible health benefits. Solid facts are rather difficult to come by. However it is said that the fermented black cloves contain very high antioxidant levels, up to twice the level of those prepared normally.

This high antioxidant level combined with other potentially desirable compounds leads some people to believe it may help maintain a healthy system. Personally I treat any health benefits as a bonus rather than a reason for eating it. For me the taste is what counts.