What Is Black Garlic And What Does It Taste Like?

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Some people have a lot of love for garlic while others simply can't stand it. While some kinds of garlic are stronger than others, those who like sweet and mild garlic or enthusiasts who simply can't get enough should absolutely know about black garlic. Though it isn't a different type of garlic such as hardneck or softneck, black garlic is garlic that has been fermented to change the flavor profile of the aromatic bulbs, according to Science Direct.

Though black garlic does not have its own scientific name, it is simply made from regular garlic, Allium sativum L., that has been exposed to high heat and plenty of humidity over time. What you ultimately end up with when you allow this chemical reaction to take place is garlic that is slightly tangy with mild hints of garlic. That means those who love garlic and want to experiment with other types or kinds of the bulb can use black garlic for a change. But those who despise strong garlic yet want its subtle influence can also make good use of the processed garlic.

What is black garlic?

According to Science Direct, black garlic is simply regular garlic that has been fermented to create a different flavor profile. But there are some other differences between regular garlic and black garlic. First of all, black garlic has fewer allicin compounds, which means it does not have the same strong smell you might expect from garlic. For those who abhor the smell of garlic but enjoy the flavor, that's a major win. Black garlic also contains a lot of antioxidants, according to Allrecipes.

As for the appearance of black garlic, it can vary. The skins of some bulbs actually turn black if the bulbs are left to ferment long enough. Others have skins that remain a yellow-white color. But don't be mistaken. As soon as you open it up, the garlic cloves themselves will be charcoal black on the inside. Keep in mind some of the dark color might show through the skins, making it look like a regular bulb that has spoiled.

What does black garlic taste like?

Black garlic has an undoubtedly complex taste even despite the lack of aroma. According to Black Garlic, the cloves have a very unusual combination of sweet and sour flavors and even some smoky components. It's even been described as tasting like "aged balsamic" or "chocolate." That's all because of one reaction that occurs during the process of making black garlic.

Black garlic undergoes the Maillard reaction during the fermentation process, which translates to a more complex flavor. It's an unfamiliar yet recognizable flavor many people can't get enough of once they try it. With a type of garlic that is mild and deliciously sweet, the cooking possibilities are clearly endless. In fact, you can use black garlic for both sweet and savory dishes of all kinds. So even if you don't think garlic goes with a dish, this complex and pleasing take on garlic just might be the change you need.

How to cook with black garlic

Actually putting black garlic to good use is surprisingly simple. Bon Appétit suggests using black garlic in similar ways to roasted garlic. That means you can spread it on bread, add it to dips, infuse or blend it into oil, stir it into pasta, and so much more. You can also grind dried black garlic into a fine powder and use a dash of it here and there on all kinds of dishes.

Here are some more incredibly easy ways to use black garlic: You can add it to mayo to make homemade aioli, press it into breads, add it to soups or salads, and even use it as a topping for fries or burgers. Simply Recipes even suggests trying it in ice cream or adding it to brownies, as it can impart an umami flavor similar to the way you would use miso. Just imagine all the possibilities.

Where to buy black garlic

Though you might not see black garlic stocked at your local chain grocery store, chances are there are plenty of other places where you can find the delicious ingredient. Specialty stores might have it in stock. However, select Walmart locations have black garlic you can pick up, so always double check when shopping.

So long as you don't need black garlic right away, you can order it online. Amazon, as well as smaller, specialized websites like Black Garlic North America can ship it among other black garlic products straight to your door.

It is even possible to make your own black garlic in a rice cooker if you are patient and determined enough. Just keep in mind that it will emit a very strong odor as it cooks, so this isn't for the faint of heart (via Allrecipes). You can try making it in a protected outdoor area such as a shed, a garage, or even a workshop if you have one available to use.

Nutritional information of black garlic

Apart from being loaded with antioxidants despite its lower count of allicin compounds, black garlic has other great health benefits that may surprise you. The fermented garlic is best known for its heart-healthy nature, control over blood sugar, and even as a cancer-fighting food, according to Web MD. According to Love Black Garlic, it can also help bolster your immune system and is anti-inflammatory.

According to The Garlic Farm, black garlic also has plenty of amino acids, which help your body build proteins. Even with lower levels of allicin compounds, black garlic has another type of compound that helps allicin be absorbed by the body. And if the body can absorb more allicin, it is possible that black garlic can help lower cholesterol for even better heart health.

Whether you become an avid fan of black garlic or just the occasional dish with it inside, adding black garlic to your diet could be good for your taste buds and your body, especially when paired with allicin-rich raw garlic.