Garlic is the most wonderful tiny herb that ever graced the planet. Without garlic, the flavor of our food would have no depth, no soul. Garlic is a staple all over the world, and it simply cannot be replaced—it is a pantry essential.
Recently, an ancient garlic variety has started to make its way into the recipes and pantries of home chefs and cooks around the world. This garlic alternative is known as black garlic. It’s savory, it’s dark, and it adds an extra flavor level to dishes that no other herb can do.
So what’s the difference between regular garlic and black garlic? Black garlic is simply regular garlic that has been fermented. The process for making black garlic involves leaving it to cook on very low heat for up to 60 days.
Garlic and black garlic both have their place in certain dishes and cooking methods. So in the article below, we’ve created for all you cooks out there a handy, in-depth guide to the difference between garlic and black garlic. We’ve also identified the health benefits of using garlic and how it compares to black garlic.
What Is Garlic?
So, what is garlic? Garlic is a bulb that’s used as an herb in cooking.
One of the oldest bulbs in existence, it can be grown in many types of weather and soils. The first record of garlic was found in Siberia, Russia, and it has traveled to every country on earth.
It’s flavor and its odor are unique and cannot be replaced by another herb. Some people state that their tongue tingles when they eat garlic.
It can be added to most dishes. If a recipe is missing garlic, the flavor’s absence is noticed immediately.
Growing garlic is easy, even if you live in an apartment or room and not a home or farm. It is one of the simplest plants to grow in a pot, as it needs soil that drains and grows up and down instead of out.
What Is Black Garlic?
So, you want to know what black garlic is? Black garlic is garlic that has been fermented.
Once the garlic has turned black, the flavor is entirely different. Many people describe the new flavor to be like molasses.
Others say that it has a distinct umami flavor and can add a nutty flavor if the dish you’re making lacks depth. Behind the umami, there is a mild sweetness that can be used in sauces and to add complexity to meat dishes.
As compared to raw garlic, black garlic is a gold mine of flavor if you have the patience to make it.
You can also buy it from specialty stores or over the internet. But if you do, it is far more expensive than buying its original garlic form.
You can think of black garlic as the caramelized form of garlic, just like caramelized onions are the caramelized form of onions.
Black garlic is still not as popular as regular garlic is outside of Asia. But as Asian food becomes more available in western and Latin American countries, more people will learn about it.
The biggest hurdle when using black garlic is how expensive it is. Black garlic can cost just as much or even more than truffles.
With that said, you can still find affordable black garlic options, especially on Amazon. Our favorite is this single clove black garlic.
How Is Black Garlic Made?
There are only two major ingredients for creating black garlic: garlic and time. Black garlic is made by being cooked in a pot over a low flame for at least three weeks.
Although it is black, there is no soy sauce involved in the creation of black garlic.
The time to make black garlic varies, depending on how intense you want the flavor.
On average, black garlic exposed to temperatures between 140 to 170 F˚ takes around three to four weeks to develop its first flavors, but you can also keep it in its cooking pot for about 60 days.
You must find a place where you can cook black garlic over a low temperature for weeks. You cannot turn the cooker off at night or when you leave home. It must be cooked continuously.
If you do turn it off, the garlic will lose its integrity, and its flavor will also suffer. A crockpot is a popular way to cook black garlic because it doesn’t have an open flame, and it will not take up space on the stove, because you can plug it in.
We love Joshua Weissman’s delivery in all of his videos on YouTube, but we especially love that he shows you three different ways to make black garlic at home. Check it out.
Where Does Black Garlic Originate From?
So, where does black garlic originate from? There is no clear link as to how black garlic was discovered to be made from garlic. That information is lost to time.
We do know that garlic appeared in Russia long ago. And Russian shares a large border with both China and Mongolia, so it’s safe to say that it was transported by either traders or travelers.
Black garlic has been used in Chinese cuisine for thousands of years. Its savory taste is essential to many dishes in Asia.
Before there was a reliable way to cook garlic for days on end to make black garlic, a special fermentation process was used to ferment it.
Along with its fantastic flavor, black garlic also has a plethora of health benefits and is used even today in traditional Chinese medicine.
Nutritional Comparison of Garlic and Black Garlic
|Calories per 100G
Does Garlic Have Any Health Benefits?
Yes! Garlic is well known for having certain health benefits.
- Immune System
In homeopathic circles, raw garlic is said to boost the immune system. It can increase the creation of white blood cells and can help fight off fevers and cold.
- Arterial Health
Current scientists believe that chemical compounds in raw garlic prevent damage and injury from affecting the linings of our arteries. This means the bad cholesterol in the human body is not as effective in causing long term damage to arteries and veins.
- Circulatory Health
Continuing its positive effects on the circulatory system, doctors also believe that raw garlic has compounds that both boost circulation around the body as well as lowers blood pressure and relieves the heart of some stress.
Many traditional medicinal texts tell people who are suffering from “bad blood” to take garlic every day, and current medicine shows that it works like a low dose of aspirin. Aspirin is known to assist the survival of heart attacks by thinning the blood and preventing clots from forming.
Benefits Of Eating Black Garlic
So what are the benefits of consuming black garlic? The health benefits of black garlic are similar to raw garlic.
First, black garlic is what you want to consume if you’re looking for ways to add more antioxidants to your diet.
As compared to raw garlic, black garlic develops two to three times the amount of antioxidants. These antioxidants can assist in lowering the inflammation in a person’s body, and can also fight off cancer that is in its early stages.
Black garlic is a capable fighter against high blood sugar. When a person’s blood sugar is too high for too long, it can create the perfect environment for diabetes to appear.
But consuming black garlic can help to relieve the heart and lower blood pressure.
Ways To Use Garlic And Black Garlic
Let’s talk about dishes we can make with garlic.
- Garlic Shrimp: First, if we want to make a dish that highlights the complexity of garlic, then we should mention Garlic shrimp. This dish is a staple all over North America. The incredible aroma and flavor that garlic brings to the dish cannot be understated.
- Garlic Pickle: If you live in South Korea, or you can visit a Korean supermarket in the USA, then you’ll come across picked garlic. It is garlic that was left to soak in vinegar for several days to weeks. It’s very crunchy and is an excellent addition to rice and meat dishes.
- Garlic Bread: All people love garlic bread, and the only ingredients you need are good bread, salt, butter, garlic, parsley, and sometimes parmesan cheese. It can accompany many classic American and Italian foods, but many people will make it for a snack.
Black Garlic Dishes
Let’s learn about a few dishes that use black garlic. There are now a number of pasta recipes online that feature black garlic as a topping or as the highlight of the dish.
- Spaghetti, penne, and linguine: are common dishes chefs add black garlic too.
- Tofu: Tofu is flavorless and odorless and takes on the flavor of whatever it is cooked with, so it is often featured with black garlic. The tofu is fried first, while the black garlic is made into a sauce that flavors the entire dish. It is a must-taste if you are in an excellent Chinese restaurant.
Is there anyone who should avoid black garlic?
If you have a garlic allergy, then you should still stay away from garlic.
Just because it was cooked over a couple of weeks doesn’t mean that the component that activates the allergy has been destroyed.
What herbs pair well with garlic and black garlic?
For garlic, you can use onion, ginger, parsley, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and cinnamon.
For black garlic, you can pair it with basil, onions, parsley, cilantro, brown sugar, and truffles
How much does black garlic cost?
Unlike garlic, which costs around $1 for several bulbs, black garlic can cost upwards of $10 for a small jar.
But if you can make it yourself, then it shouldn’t cost more than a few dollars.
What are some dishes that can feature black garlic?
Although black garlic is still just a staple in Asian foods, Italian cuisine is starting to accept it into its culture.
Several pasta recipes online feature black garlic as a topping or as the highlight of the dish. Spaghetti, penne, and linguine are common dishes that chefs add black garlic to.
Black garlic has a strong but sweet flavor. Tofu is flavorless and odorless and takes on the flavor of whatever it is cooked with, so it is often featured with black garlic.
The tofu is fried first, while the black garlic is made into a sauce that flavors the entire dish.
Which wines pair well with black garlic?
Since black garlic has such a deep and robust flavor, many wine connoisseurs suggest choosing an opposite flavor of the wine.
Pick up a light, but not fruity, white wine the next time you plan on eating black garlic in a meal. If you want to compound on the intense flavor, you can choose a bold red wine that isn’t sweet.