The Origins Of Black Garlic

Garlic is an essential ingredient to enhance the flavor of many meals, and if you're unafraid of having pungent breath, it can even be eaten raw. Eating uncooked garlic boasts even more health benefits than eating it cooked, as raw garlic contains more allicin, a compound that may boost your immune system (per Healthline).

The popularity of garlic is unparalleled; it is used in practically all cuisines and has been cultivated for nearly 5,000 years, per the University of Wyoming. There are even more than 12 different varieties of garlic, and each one has its own unique qualities and best uses. From the commonly found artichoke garlic to the surprising elephant garlic, which is actually considered part of the leek family, there are many types of garlic to try before you choose a favorite.

If strong garlic isn't your preference, but you still want the health benefits, then you should definitely try pickling garlic – a process that tempers the flavor. Another trending variation is black garlic, which is known for its unique charcoal color. One Washington Post article from 2009 describes black garlic as the next "it" item after a California-based inventor named Scott Kim began marketing his black garlic as a superfood with a patented heat-curing process. His product inspired Bay Area chefs and then quickly traveled eastward to the culinary scene of upscale New York.

Black garlic is an old Korean recipe

But the recent trend isn't anything new. According to Food Grads, black garlic was originally made in Korea using a several-week-long fermenting process. This tradition of fermenting garlic leads to more antioxidants and vitamin C, which may be why black garlic is linked to longevity in Thailand (via Artisan Black Garlic). Black garlic may also help regulate blood sugar, positively influence brain, liver, and heart health, and even fight cancer (per Healthline). In Korea, black garlic is a popular condiment that is both prized for its antioxidant properties (via NYTimes) and widely used to add a flavor boost to foods and even energy drinks. 

Allegedly, one English farmer even "stumbled" upon an ancient 4,000-year-old recipe for black garlic in the troves of the internet, which can be taken as proof that the practice of making fermented black garlic dates back thousands of years. The farmer then spent 18 months perfecting the recipe and now sells his own version of black garlic to fancy hotels and restaurants, proving the continued appeal of black garlic, according to DailyMail

While the exact origins of blackened garlic are unclear, garlic in general has been used as medicine since it was discovered as food. It has been used traditionally for its benefits in many regions of Asia and won't be waning in popularity any time soon, per SPICEography.