Black garlic is all the rage. It’s often called “fermented” but the process isn’t actually fermenting. Instead, it’s simply a matter of low slow cooking over a long time. At least 2 weeks, actually. If you like garlic, you owe it to yourself to try this at least once.
Does it taste like roasted garlic, but just take longer? No, no it does not. It almost doesn’t taste like garlic at all, honestly. It’s actually pretty hard to describe. The word “umami” gets thrown around a lot when people talk about black garlic.
Time needed: 14 days and 30 minutes.
How to Make Black Garlic
- Get some heads of garlic
You can use garlic from the grocery store or cooler varieties from farmer’s markets or home-grown. Leave the heads intact. For my large crockpot, I was able to comfortably arrange 9 foil-wrapped heads of garlic in a single layer. You can do multiple layers but it becomes a fussier rotation process if you do.
- Wrap each head loosely in foil
Not so loosely that all the moisture will escape, but not skin-tight either.
- Add a slightly crumpled layer of foil to the bottom of the crockpot
This is just to give the garlic some space so it’s not right against the heat.
- Turn the crockpot on to the “Keep Warm” setting
Turn on the crockpot, and put the lid on.
Wait at least 2 weeks. To check the progress without cutting open a head of garlic, you could unwrap one and press gently on the side. If it’s soft and springy, then I would say cut it open and check. Or, wait another few days for good measure.
That’s all there is to it. Once your garlic is pitch-black, you can store the heads of garlic in a paper bag somewhere relatively cool and dry. They last up to 6 months, from what I’ve read. And now that you have this fine dining ingredient, here are some ways to use black garlic in your cooking.
You might read that the process of making black garlic will make your house smell strongly of garlic the whole two weeks, but that was not my experience. The first couple days, the smell was notable, but as time went on, it lessened significantly. If you’re worrying about smelling up your house with garlic, a) don’t and b) maybe you don’t love garlic enough to be worthy of undertaking this procedure!
Ultimately I made a mistake (aka an experiment) with my supply of black garlic, attempting to make garlic powder out of it. I chopped it up and dehydrated it for days. When it was as dry as it was going to get, I threw it in a spice grinder to create my very own black garlic cement. The maillard reaction that produces that deep color and mellow flavor also adds a stickiness, and that makes it difficult to properly powder by itself. Kind of like when a bag of brown sugar gets hardened.
I’ve bought black garlic salt from a local farmer’s market that’s less clumpy, so I may be able to salvage my bricks of black garlic powder by cutting it with salt and regrinding. I just don’t know if I feel like putting in the effort. I think I’d rather try turning some of my excess seed garlic into black garlic and see what the stronger flavors of those varieties do under these conditions.