I was wandering through Dean and Deluca with a girlfriend the other day looking for a bit of cooking inspiration when I came across black garlic. I’d been meaning to experiment with it for some time, so I nabbed a few bulbs. I love to see different ingredients getting more shine in places like this…they also had a bucketful of kaffir limes! Go Dean and Deluca.
There is definitely some mystic misperception out there about this stuff. Black garlic is high quality garlic that has been put through a temperature- and humidity-controlled fermentation process in its whole form. The result is an aging of sorts (not rotting!) and sweet, mellowed, tangy, molasses-like cloves that lack the acrid, sulphurous quality of typical raw garlic.
Many claim that this garlic has been used for centuries in Korean and Japanese cooking for its super high antioxidant levels (which it does have), but there’s no hard evidence to these historic claims. The black garlic we see in stores is thought to have been created in the last 10 years. Makes a nice story though.
To me, the sweet, almost tamarind-like sweetness is surprising! The jelly-like cloves don’t really need further cooking unless you are going to heat a little olive oil and infuse with the clove. Since black garlic isn’t the cheapest of ingredients, I plan to bottle the infused oil and keep around to serve with bread. Spread the flavor (and cost!) out. I pretty much use this where I would use roasted garlic – in sauces, pastas, mashes, dips…it’s delicious spread right on a bit of toast. Since I’m still experimenting, I’d love to hear if any of you have used it and how!