Black garlic is a new food trend that’s making waves in the western culinary world. Black garlic is nothing more than the result of ageing regular bulbs of garlic (Allium sativum) over a period of 2 weeks to a few months and requires strictly regulated humidity and temperature to achieve its sticky consistency.
This process is called the Maillard reaction.
A softer, less-aggressive flavour makes for a delicate option compared to raw white garlic bulbs.
This makes black garlic perfect for people who want an alternative to fresh or raw garlic that still provides all of the health benefits.
Black garlic also has more antioxidants than regular garlic, so it can be an excellent addition to any wellness diet.
While black garlic is relatively new to Western cultures, Asian cultures have traditionally used black garlic as a medicinal ingredient for centuries.
Black garlic is often eaten raw or pickled in vinegar and oil as a digestive aid and blood purifier in Japan, Korea, and China.
What Does Black Garlic Taste Like?
This food has a distinct taste, meaning it is both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.
With its soft texture similar to that of a chewy fruit or roasted garlic, black garlic has the sweetness of aged balsamic vinegar.
It also tastes like chocolate or aniseed in some cases; you can also detect smokey flavours of black cardamom when eating black garlic!
The sweet and sour flavour from tamarind is another property that makes its taste very complex, with strong notes of molasses and a deep and complex flavour profile.
Curiously, black garlic has no distinct smell, making it a flavour interpreted only by pure taste. There is no smell to disrupt or influence the flavour experienced by the person eating it.
How to Use Black Garlic
If you love garlic but don’t love the smell or taste, black garlic is the perfect choice for you.
As black garlic has already been processed to get to the desired state, you don’t really need to do much more to consume it; yes, you can eat it raw straight from the bulb, which can be much more palatable than regular raw garlic.
Still, there are endless opportunities to use black garlic in everyday cooking!
Black garlic can be used in a variety of dishes to infuse flavour without overpowering it.
In Place of Garlic
Use black garlic as an additional ingredient in your everyday dishes. You can add it to pasta sauces, pizza dough, and stir-fries with little to no change to the taste or smell of the dish.
Add raw black garlic into your salad dressing, sliced thinly as a salad toppings, or included into sandwich spreads to add a sweet and savoury touch.
Black Garlic Pesto
Create a black garlic pesto by blending together fresh basil, olive oil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper with cooked down black garlic cloves. Just make sure you follow our advice to avoid bitter pesto.
Black garlic can be added to cheese and antipasti boards to compliment the range of robust flavours. It can be spread on the accompanying crackers before the cheese to create such a unique flavour profile.
Black garlic will add a robust flavour to any dish while keeping it relatively odourless.
How to Store Black Garlic
There are a number of ways you can store black garlic and this depends on what form it is in:
Whole Black Garlic
Suppose you have a whole head of black garlic. In that case, it will last happily at room temperature for up to one month if you let it breathe and keep it protected- the best way to do this in pop it in a paper or mesh bag with tiny air holes to allow free circulation of air.
Prepared Black Garlic
If you are actively using your black garlic, prepared and peeled black garlic cloves will keep in an airtight container, such as a small Tupperware tub, in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
Whole garlic bulbs will sprout if they are exposed to cool temperatures, so only keep peeled and prepared cloves in the fridge.
Black garlic can also be frozen to extend its shelf life by up to an entire year. To prepare black garlic for freezing, peel the cloves and place them in airtight containers or freezer bags.
Dehydrating Black Garlic
To dehydrate garlic, you can simply slice thin pieces off the peeled black garlic cloves and place them into a food dehydrator.
You can then store the dehydrated black garlic cloves in an airtight container and put them in a cool, dry place like your larder or a cool cupboard. The Black garlic stored in this way can last up to one year.
Substitutes for Black Garlic
Sometimes, black garlic is something that can be a little difficult to obtain in mainstream shops or markets.
However, it may still be challenging to find while gaining traction in popularity.
If you are having trouble, here are some black garlic alternatives you can try.
- Slow Roasted Garlic and Balsamic Vinegar – Suppose you are looking for a substitute that tastes good with just about anything. In that case, slow-roasted garlic with balsalmic vinegar is your best bet. Use whole cloves of garlic and roast them until they are soft.
- Smoked Garlic Powder and Molasses – If you need a quick substitution for black garlic, then garlic powder and a touch of molasses work well. This can be added to most recipes that call for black garlic without changing the dish’s texture too much. It doesn’t taste quite as complex as black garlic, but it will get the job done
- Mashed Roasted Garlic, Soy and Dark Brown Sugar – While it’s challenging to replicate the flavour of black garlic, if you are low on time and need something a little better than regular garlic, you can mix roasted and mashed garlic cloves with soy and a tiny pinch of dark brown sugar to a paste.
Where to Buy Black Garlic
If you’re interested in trying black garlic, one of the best places to buy it is at a speciality store dealing with Asian and oriental cuisine.
This is because they’ll have a wide selection of different brands and types, so you’ll be able to find something suitable that appeals to your taste buds rather than just one generic flavour; although, there may not be many to choose from!
If there’s not a speciality store near you, or if you want to try something new, maybe an Asian online store or market would be the best place for you. These places will usually stock black garlic in their produce section as it is something they use a lot more in their cuisines than we do.
You can also buy black garlic online from some western online food stores. However, the prices are usually higher online than in stores.
Still, this option is available if you don’t feel like going out shopping.
And finally, some supermarkets may carry black garlic these days too, so it’s worth checking them out as well; you may be best off looking in the specialist food section for this or the Asian cuisine section!
Generally, black garlic is much more expensive than normal white garlic but that is understandable. It will be between 4 and 6 times more expensive. But it will last for months and is not an ingredient you will use daily.
Black Garlic FAQs
If you’ve got other specific questions about black garlic and how to use them, then these might help:
It is possible to make black garlic at home but it takes weeks (if not months) so might not necessarily be worth the effort. You can actually achieve black garlic in a slow cooker by using the warming function where you’ll need to leave your garlic bulbs for several weeks.
Yes, black garlic is normal, white garlic that has been left to ferment at a high, constant temperature.
Got more questions about black garlic? Then ask away in the comments section at the bottom of this page and we’ll help out as much as possible!
Stacy is a UK Based lifestyle writer who writes in the food and nutrition niches, as well as within the health and wellness sectors. She is a mum of 4 and married to a musician, so sustainability and a pinch of humour are absolutely essential to get over every one of life’s obstacles!