For a blog that features recipes that sometimes take a very long time to make, having an article on black garlic makes nothing but sense. Read on!
I learned about black garlic a few years ago when it first became this trendy thing. Foodies (I hate this word) were talking about this thing nonstop which annoyed and prevented me from trying it, or even care to learn what it was. I basically had zero interest in it (ok, I had some interest but hid it in the depths of my dark soul). Recently, I decided to revisit the matter (about 9 months ago) and bought some at wholefoods only to end up in the trashcan. It was inedible.
A few weeks ago I purchased a copy of Noma’s fermentation guide. Side note. If you’re into fermentation there are 2 books to own: The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz and The Noma Guide to Fermentation by René Redzepi & David Zilber.
So is this thing fermented?
Black garlic isn’t a fermentation product but you can find a very straight forward guide to making it in Noma’s book with some pictures and everything and If one of the best restaurants in the world considers black garlic a worthy condiment then maybe foodies had been right about the hype all along.
Anyways, let’s dive right in. Black Garlic is quick and easy to make but it does require some gear. You will need a food dehydrator and having a vacuum sealer helps too but I’m sure you could do without one (haven’t tried it though).
Now, what exactly is black garlic?
It surely isn’t a product of fermentation. The temperature and time needed to produce it would obliterate most living organisms in the garlic. What is happening is that a very slow milliard reaction is taking place as well as other enzymatic reactions. We’re roasting the garlic in slow motion… kinda.
Ingredients and gear:
Heads of garlic. I tested with 4.
Vacuum sealer bags.
Place the garlic heads in the baggie. Make sure there’s some room between them. Vacuum seal using the highest setting allowed by your machine. Place the baggie(s) in the dehydrator and set the temperature to 60C or 140F. Keep the dehydrator going for 6 weeks. Welcome to black garlic heaven.
Was it worth it?
I won’t lie. The hype was justified. This thing is wonderful (I wonder what happened to that wholefoods stuff). Smokey, earthy, sweet and delicate. 6 weeks in a food dehydrator seems extreme so I would suggest running a test with a few heads of garlic and making sure this is something you’re going to like before embarking on a bigger quest. I loved the end product and can’t wait to go big. If kept vacuum-sealed, the garlic should last a very long time. I’m testing that too.
I’ll give you one borrowed from chef Joshua Weissman, who runs an incredible and super fun youtube channe. Oh… and don’t forget to check out his B-roll 😎 Don’t worry, you won’t miss it. Anways, he suggests using black garlic to make compound butter. Mince the garlic of one head, a pinch of salt and mix it with a stick of butter (room temperature). Using wax or parchment paper, roll the butter like a cigar and twist the ends. You’re done. Below, 2 sticks of butter.
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Well I am glad you tried it before I did 🙂 I have been thinking of trying this process (I believe it is called pyrolizing) after the clear instructions in the Noma fermentation book and then also in the Avairy cocktails boom where they pyrolize fruits (bananas) to use in drinks and even booze (chartreuse)! I do have a good dehydrator, the excalibur one, but was concerned about the safety of having it run for weeks on end. Where did you have yours setup? Did it overheat at all? I’m assuming you kind of kept and eye on it and ensured everything is progressing ok through out all these weeks. Right? Again, great job and sorry for the nit picky questions.
No sorries needed! I love talking about this stuff 🙂 I’m gonna check out that Avairy book… never heard of it. My dehydrator sits in a corner of my dining room.. my house is about 70f all year round if that matters at all. I have ran my dehydrator for days before but this was the first time doing month and a half but other than power bill concerns (which is probably not that big a deal) I had no concerns. It never overheated and I even used the too vent to dry wet kitchen towels and whatnot haha. Don’t do less than 6 weeks tho. I checked 5 weeks into it and it wasn’t fully pyrolyzed 🙂
btw the way… this avairy book… omg! gotta get this thing!
Great. Thanks for the info. Now I can tell my wife when she voices her concerns…”Well, Paul here did it. it’s fine” 🙂
Yes, you should get a copy of the Aviary Cocktails book. It’s a beautiful piece of work, great to read for ideas and really fascinating and delicious recipes. Pyrolized bananas might actually be my first attempt to give this method a shot. I wonder if I can do both bananas and garlic (in separate vacuum sealed packages of course). Did you get any actual garlic smell while it was going? Garlic flavored bananas would not be a good thing.
haha oh god! hope everything goes according to plan then! i did onions and the garlic together btw 🙂 and will definitely grab a copy of this book. Im a fan of grant achatz
I hate the word foodie too! Your kitchen must look like a lab… Haha I was so excited when I saw this on your Inst. until you said I need a dehydrator. Maybe one day, I cant now. Enjoy the black garlic!
awww! get a dehydrator! I use mine all the time 🙂 you could try sous vide.. do you have an immersion circulator? I admit it… I have way too many gadgets in this kitchen haha
I think my most sophisticated gadget is a manual meat grinder… If I went in your kitchen I think I wouldnt know what half your things are! haha
hahahah 🙂 there are s few unusual tools around here for sure hahhaha