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What the heck is Black Garlic?

So you have watched a cooking show on tv or read a magazine with a certain recipe and now you are interested in black garlic. You heard how incredible the dish tasted and picked up all that sweet, umami flavour and now your tastebuds are tingling. You saw the beautiful look to the garlic and wondered why is it black, soft, and easy to use. Don’t deny your cravings for the black gold, you can order from Pure Music Garlic and try for yourself.

First of all if you are going to get some, buyer’s should know a little about black garlic. As all my subscribers know this answer but the number #1 question I get from a trade show or garlic festival is “ how do you grow it?” I can’t tell you the sweet little Italian ladies insisting that they can grow anything. They probably can, but not black garlic. I explain it’s the only garlic that has to be made and not grown. It’s fermented, the roots are dead. I’ve all but given them a free bulb just to explain to them that it is still not "alive". God bless their soles they adorable but how can you blame them, black garlic is relatively new to most people.

Depending on who you believe, its either a 4,000 year old Asian tradition or a specialty product with no ancient lineage introduced in 2008 by a Korean born entrepreneur in California. But every foodie can agree it’s been gaining popularity over the last decade. Recently it has gained credibility as a health food due to studies of its impressive nutritional properties. Basically it has double the antioxidants than fresh garlic. This is only because black garlic is produced in a humidity-controlled environment with temperatures of 130 to 170 degrees F for 15 - 30 days. No additives, no preservatives...just pure garlic. This is described as fermentation.

Let me clarify the term fermentation. Black garlic is the result of non-microbial chemical and biochemical transformations rather than a true fermentation. Technically without getting too scientific the process is called the Millard Reaction that produces strong new flavour compounds responsible for the deep taste of seared meat and fried onions. This combination results in the dark colour and deep, complex flavour profile. Are you still with me? As the garlic turns from white to black, it’s flavour shifts from pungent to sweet and savoury. It largely loses its strong door and pungent taste. This has been a playful argument between my partner and I for a couple of years now and it still drives me up the wall. But he loves me.

Black garlic is a complex new flavour, both sweet and savoury, I like to call it the candy of all garlic. It adds a delicious taste, known as umami, to ANY dish. It deepens and intensifies flavour and at the same time balances and rounds out the overall flavour of a dish. Try closing your eyes and think about a molasses-like with tangy garlic undertones but is soft and chewy texture like a jujube. Now you can really taste the flavour of “balsamic vinegar “ and “soy sauce “, “liquorice” and “chocolate” undertones with a sweet “prune -like”taste. I really hope your taste buds are melting because mine definitely are. The individual bulbs have a papery skin and beaten up look after being heated for a month and the cloves should be jet black. No garlicky taste or bitterness.

I personally pop a clove a day for health reasons, but I advise first-timers to start slowly and add a clove or two at a time to what you would like to use it with. Black garlic is meant as a background flavour to add depth to your cooking, not meant to stand out or overpower a dish. I highly recommend trying it into a chocolate cake batter for a sweet sensation. My black garlic fudge and black velvet cupcakes definitely are a hit for that special occasion! And best of garlic breath!

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