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Black Garlic Adds Magic

Black Garlic Adds Magic

Black garlic is fermented to gain it's color. (photo by Creative Comons user foodistablog)

Akron Beacon Journal

Dark and savory with an almost indescribable flavor, black garlic is one of the trendiest new ingredients to be popping up on restaurant menus across the country.

Black garlic is fresh garlic that has been fermented. The process turns the cloves a rich black color with an intensely concentrated, slightly sweet, somewhat smoky flavor, reminiscent of Worcestershire sauce. The green, pungent flavors of fresh garlic are gone, but the garlicky essence remains.

Chef Brandt Evans, owner of Blue Canyon Kitchen & Tavern in Twinsburg, Ohio, started featuring black garlic on his menu in the spring, adding it to pasta and chicken dishes.

“Customers were absolutely blown away by it,” Evans said. Evans had read about black garlic and hounded his suppliers until they were able to get it for him. “The flavor is just magical. It’s very mysterious, sort of like molasses, or roasted garlic or caramel-honey garlic,” Evans said.

After fermentation, the cloves aren’t soft and spreadable like roasted garlic, but rather are a bit leathery, almost the consistency of a dried apricot. It is easily sliced or chopped.

Fermented garlic is believed to be an ancient food common to various parts of the world, including the Middle East and Asia, where it is still popular today. Scott Kim, a Korean-American from California, first tasted fermented garlic on a trip to South Korea several years ago. The fermented garlic that Kim had sampled was more brown than black and was not as flavorful, but Kim saw promise and set out to perfect the fermenting process, company spokesman and chief operations manager Brian Han said.

Kim started Black Garlic Inc., a Hayward, Calif.-based company that manufactures the only black garlic being distributed in the U.S. today. The garlic is fermented for 30 days in special equipment that controls the heat and humidity, but nothing is added to the garlic in the process.

“It’s 100 percent natural. We’re not adding any sugar or soy to change the color,” Han said.