black garlic – a labour of love

black garlic, sweet & mildLast year I saw a post on Instagram talking about black garlic.  My initial thought was EWW.  How could this be a good thing and how could chefs rave about it?  Surely this was some sort of crazy food fad.  For me, if veggies look dark, then they’re most probably rotten.  But a quick glance on the web and I found the Koreans have been fermenting garlic for years.  They age it for at least 30 days.  That seemed like too much hard work and never gave it another thought, that was, until…

I saw a vendor at our farmers’ market selling it.  Here was my chance to see what all the fuss and hype was about.  The woman gave me a sample and I was blown away!  The black clove was squishy like a date and it smelled like smoked molasses but nothing could have prepared me for the taste.  The pungeant flavour one gets from a raw piece was nowhere near to be found; all you have is this amazing chewy, caramel, smokey taste.  It’s hard to believe it’s garlic.  I bought a head along with Birdies bread and couldn’t wait to get home to try it.  A simple and easy way to enjoy the black garlic is to toast a slice of sourdough and smear the garlic clove onto the slice of warm bread.  Drizzle with olive oil and enjoy.

You will need (besides patience) –
rice cooker with a sealed lid and a keep warm function
fresh heads of garlic

Choose garlic that is firm to the touch.  Some say use garlic with purple ridges but I’m not so sure they’re the only type; I had a mix.  Line the rice cooker with paper towel.  Place garlic in the cooker and cover with paper towel. Close lid and press the keep warm button.  Move rice cooker outside or your home will reek of garlic.  Most rice cookers only stay on for a 12-hour period so you’ll need to start again.  Open lid after 7 days and move the garlic at the bottom to the top.  Close and keep warm for another 7 days or until garlic has changed colour and is the texture of a date.  Remove from rice cooker and allow garlic to cool.  The garlic will last 30 days at room temperature or place in a jar with a lid and cover with paper towel for up to 6 months.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  I found a YouTube video where these guys placed foil on the bottom and sides, then placed paper towel on top followed by more foil (like a cap).  Freshly cooled, I used 3 cloves of garlic and puréed with extra-virgin olive oil to use as a dressing for a salad and over grilled veggies – so good!  For other black garlic ideas, click here.  Enjoy!

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