We all know that “white” garlic is one of the most used and complete natural foods. However, black garlic oil has been produced and consumed for thousands of years.
Experts recommend taking a little garlic every day because of its antiseptic and antibiotic qualities. Even better if you manage to get the black version and take it raw in the mornings.
What is black garlic?
Black garlic is nothing more than the head of the common garlic, unpeeled, subjected to a process of controlled maturation in closed wooden chambers.
It must be kept at a constant temperature of 140 °F and a high percentage of humidity, which is achieved by evaporating seawater.
After thirty days of maturation, the garlic is moved to another chamber, where it undergoes a period of oxidation, between thirty and forty-five days.
What is the result?
Garlic that looks golden on the outside but an intense black color on the inside. It has a tender texture, like roasted garlic, a sweet, almost fruity taste, and a soft aroma. Because of this, you won’t have to worry about “harming” your breath or upsetting your stomach.
Black garlic bulbs possess the virtues of fresh garlic but are much more concentrated. So much that a single black garlic clove provides the energy equivalent to a common garlic head; this is why black garlic is a true superfood.
Black garlic background
Although black garlic’s origin remains uncertain, it is believed to be an ancient ingredient of Korean and Thai cuisines. But it’s not known for sure.
In any case, its rediscovery, which allowed its use to be introduced in Western territories, seems to date back to the 1970s. A Japanese biologist, looking for ways to reduce the strong smell and taste of garlic, devised a system of cooking or maturing it very slowly with heat and humidity.
When he analyzed the result, he was surprised that the garlic had taken on intense black color and that its flavor and aroma had softened. But most importantly, the analysis revealed an extraordinary enhancement of its natural properties.
This was the beginning of its fame as a superfood.
In 2006, during a visit to Osaka, the famous Spanish chef Ferrán Adriá discovered this exquisite condiment and brought it to the Iberian Peninsula, using it as a gourmet ingredient in his famous restaurant.
Since 2008, it has been made in the United States, in California, becoming one of the stellar ingredients in modern cuisine trends. It was also presented in England on a BBC program during that time, and its fame continued to spread.
Today, black garlic is part of the new Mediterranean cuisine, which combines refined flavors with a return to nature.
Black garlic oil recipe
Use only the best virgin olive oil because the better the quality, the more polyphenols, and vitamins it’ll have.
I always use the “extra virgin” type, which is very mild, but everyone can use the one they like best. This particular oil is so soft and smooth that I sometimes use it for baking instead of butter.
Ok, so back to our black garlic oil recipe:
- ½ liter of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 or 3 heads of black garlic = 80 or 120 grams
If you manage to get the black garlic super fresh (high humidity), I recommend putting 3 heads. However, if they’re drier, then 2 will be enough.
It will also depend on the flavor intensity you want to achieve in this aromatic black garlic oil. The more days and the more garlic added, the more flavor and aroma.
Note that when the heads are very dry, peeling them, it’s easy because the skin is almost removed by itself.
Make sure there’s not a tiny bit of peel left. Rub them lightly with absorbent kitchen paper and put them in the chosen container, which should be clean and dry.
Let them macerate and aromatize for at least 15 days, although they can last for many months.
By the way, I have been adding 100 grams of fresh basil to this “aromatized black garlic oil.” You cannot even imagine the taste and aroma it acquires, so delicious. As the flavor it provides is so intense. Not to mention it’s super nutritious!
If you’d like to try it yourself, remember to remove the basil leaves after 4 days, so it does not become moldy.
A lot of people like to take a couple of cloves of regular garlic in the mornings. Me too! However, if you want to avoid burping garlic all day long, you may want to switch to the black one. Same benefits multiplied by 10.
Let’s review some of black garlic benefits:
- Antioxidant concentration is 10 times higher than that of normal garlic due to its high content of “superoxide dismutase,” which significantly reduces free radicals, one of the many factors that produce aging.
- It reduces hypertension through the action of its sulfur compounds such as allicin and the angiotensin-converting enzyme, ACE. This enzyme catalyzes the conversion of angiotensin I into angiotensin II.
- This allicin also causes a reduction in blood sugar levels, increasing the production of insulin.
- Helps increase collagen levels, being richer than white garlic in thiosulfinates, sulfur compounds necessary for collagen formation, thus improving the functioning of the joints
- They are a natural source of energy. That is, they are stimulating due to their high zinc content.
- Fights constipation because it regulates the intestinal transit, favoring food digestion
- It’s depurative because it protects the arteries and helps filter and cleanse the liver and kidneys.
- It supports your body’s natural defenses; that is, it strengthens your immune system.
- Regulates cholesterol by lowering levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol type)
- An excellent expectorant, protecting the respiratory system
- It no longer has the strong smell and taste of white garlic, but rather a sweet touch and different aromatic notes compared to licorice and truffle.
If you have some black garlic lying around in your house, you can experiment in your kitchen.
For instance, you can make black garlic mayonnaise or aioli, something totally different from what you have tasted until now.
Black garlic and amino acids
This superfood’s virtues come from its high content in three fundamental groups of nutrients: amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Amino acids are the molecules that build proteins, essential for overall health. Its functions are important for the formation and growth of muscles, cartilage, and bone. They also have antioxidant, immunological, and enzymatic properties.
Humans need twenty amino acids to grow and function properly.
Nine of them, called “essential,” cannot be synthesized by the organism and must be obtained from food.
Black garlic contains all the essential amino acids: phenylalanine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
Vitamins are no less important and essential for the proper functioning of our organs and metabolism in general. Like vitamin C, some of them exert an antioxidant action, neutralizing free radicals (unstable molecules that, if produced in excess, cause cellular aging and degenerative diseases).
Black garlic is rich in vitamin B2, B6 and C.
Minerals, natural inorganic elements also possess important functions such as forming bones, hormone production, and heart rate regulation. In black garlic, you will find calcium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc.
When garlic cloves are broken or crushed, allicin is formed, a substance known for its potential to eliminate bacteria and fungi. Besides, this superfood contains twice as many lipids and saccharides as common garlic, which provides a lot of energy.
How to consume this superfood?
This awesome healthy friend can be taken raw or cooked as part of your favorite meals. It is advisable to take it on an empty stomach in the mornings. If you take it at night, its energizing effect (which lasts several hours) could prevent you from sleeping.
The recommended portion is one to three black garlic cloves per day.
Black garlic contraindications and side effects
Garlic consumption, both black and fresh, is discouraged in people who are taking anticoagulants. Black garlic may increase the action of these medications.
Please note: garlic should not be consumed by people who are about to undergo heart surgery.
Women who are breastfeeding can consume raw natural black garlic or oil in small amounts as a condiment in meals, but it is not recommended in supplements.
It can alter the smell and taste of breast milk. It is contraindicated during pregnancy and can produce alterations during the menstrual cycle.
Can it be prepared at home?
Since its wonderful properties have become popular, many people wish to prepare black garlic at home in a traditional way. Several videos are already circulating on the net explaining how to obtain it, using rice cookers and pots at a constant temperature.
In general, the results are not very encouraging. Although some black garlic heads can be obtained, many of the bulbs get burned or spoiled. Also, the product obtained will be of inferior quality.
Another disadvantage is the strong smell emanating from the chamber in the first few days.
Considering the maturation time that the garlic needs to be transformed (no less than a month), the amount of work does not compensate for the great expense of energy involved.
Nevertheless, if you still want to give it a try, we’ll show you the necessary steps for making your own black garlic at home.
The fermentation process is achieved by putting the garlic heads in a watertight chamber, slow cooker or electric rice cooker, dehydrator, or low-temperature oven.
The next step is to keep it at a constant temperature for about 30 days, at 60ºC (140º Fahrenheit). *Previously, the garlic is salted with seawater to improve its fermentation conditions.
After the 30 day period has passed, the garlic will have caramelized, obtaining its characteristic black color.
Nevertheless, it is still preferable to leave it to ferment outside the dehydrator for another 40 days to finish maturing.
You’ve got your black garlic, and now it’s time to preserve it; you can either put it in oil or leave it in its natural packaging.
A good tip is to keep your black garlic out in the sun in a plastic “Tupper.” It seems to last longer.
A friend of mine followed a similar process. First, she submerged the garlic for 10 minutes in previously boiled and cooled seawater.
Then, she wrapped them in aluminum foil and cooked them at 140ºF for 10 to 12 days (As opposed to the 4-week standard mark).
Later, to prevent any damage, she put them out in the sun for 6 days without removing the aluminum foil. This accomplishes extra “slow cooking.”
When she opened up the aluminum foil, they were finished with a tender and creamy texture. The now black garlic was kept in a plastic container to ferment.
Nutritionists recommend taking 1 to 3 cloves daily on an empty stomach (this is the best way to take advantage of its qualities).
It is not recommended to take it at night since its energizing effect may prevent you from sleeping.
Black garlic use in gastronomy is the same as common garlic, with the difference that it can also be used for the elaboration of desserts.
Where to buy black garlic
This superfood has become popular and can be found in large commercial shops, gastronomic supermarkets, delicatessen stores, and some herbalist stores. Of course, it can also be ordered from various natural product websites.
I personally take capsules every day to obtain their benefits since natural black garlic is not available in my area. However, if you’re lucky enough to find it in your city, always opt for the natural kind.
It is available in the form of a matured bulb or a paste (plain or combined with other components). Also, in capsules, in this case, for medicinal and supplementation purposes only.