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Black Garlic: What is it, benefits, how to use, and more

Black garlic cloves’ alluring black colour and faintly sweet flavour have made this ingredient popular in Asian cuisines for centuries. You can also make your own black garlic at home. Here’s everything you need to know about this popular ingredient.

Here’s everything to know about Black Garlic

black garlic
Image: Courtesy Shutterstock

What is Black Garlic?

Black garlic is fresh garlic (Allium sativum) that has undergone a Maillard reaction (a caramelisation-like process) over several weeks. This produces an umami flavour similar to tamarind or rich balsamic vinegar, which some home chefs compare to. The Maillard reaction is not a fermentation process; rather, in the case of black garlic, it is an ageing process, leading some chefs to refer to the food as aged black garlic.

The Maillard reaction is a complex chemical interaction that occurs during the cooking process between amino acids and reducing sugars. When compared to raw garlic, this process reduces the level of allicin. This does not negate the numerous health benefits of garlic cloves, which are high in nutrients. Chefs in Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Thai restaurants frequently use black garlic.


Black garlic has a high concentration of antioxidants, and some studies suggest that it may have even more than regular garlic. It’s also slightly higher in calories, fat, and fibre, as well as sodium and iron, and slightly lower in carbohydrates and vitamin C when compared to fresh garlic.

Image: Courtesy Hope Foods, LLC

How to use black garlic?

Black garlic can be used in the same ways as regular garlic.

Salad dressing: Puree peeled cloves with olive oil, white wine vinegar, black pepper, lemon juice, and a dash of soy sauce in a vinaigrette salad dressing.

Roasted: Roast garlic heads with meat and vegetables. Crispy black garlic pairs well with roasted chicken.

Stews and casseroles: Add it to stews, casseroles, and even risotto to add a subtly sweet, umami flavour.

Stir fry dishes: Add some to your own stir fry or sprinkle some on top of ramen.

As a main course garnish, sprinkle minced black garlic on grilled fish or meat for an umami boost.

Condiments: Add black garlic to condiments like mustard or aioli. Given the time required to prepare black garlic, take care not to overpower it with other flavours.

Ice cream: Some daring chefs made black garlic ice cream with peeled black garlic.

How to make black garlic at home?

The method of making it is not difficult, but it takes a long time. The trick is to use a slow cooker or rice cooker on low for several weeks.

1. Gather all your garlic bulbs. For this popular ingredient recipe, use whole garlic bulbs, but remove the outer layer of papery skin to remove any dirt or debris. Remove any roots that have sprouted from the bulb’s base.

2. Wrap each bulb individually in aluminium foil. You must not allow moisture to escape in order for the Maillard reaction to work. Wrapping each garlic bulb in foil traps the natural moisture of the garlic.

3. Place the bulbs in a slow cooker with a low heat setting. Use a slow cooker or rice cooker that can be set to a precise temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit to start the cooking process (sixty degrees Celsius). Turn on the pot and cover it with a lid.

4. Cook the garlic for a minimum of three weeks. Black garlic takes at least three weeks (sometimes four) to develop the proper colour, flavour, and texture. Leave it in the slow cooker overnight for the best results.

5. Three weeks later, remove a bulb and test it. Cut one of your bulbs open to inspect the colour and taste the flavour. If you like it, the process is complete. If it requires more time, you can leave the garlic in the cooker for up to a week.

6. Store black garlic in the same manner as regular garlic. It can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks or frozen for up to a year. To keep your it for later use, use standard garlic storage techniques.

Benefits of black garlic?

Blood sugar control

Black garlic, like fresh raw garlic, can help to regulate blood sugar levels. Reduced blood sugar levels aid in the prevention of serious health issues such as diabetes symptoms, kidney dysfunction, and others. Higher antioxidant levels in black garlic may also help to prevent diabetes complications.

Loaded with antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that can have a significant impact on health. They prevent oxidative stress and cell damage by neutralising harmful free radicals.

During the ageing process, allicin in garlic is converted into antioxidant compounds such as alkaloids and bioflavonoids. While black garlic cooks slowly, it undergoes a fermentation process that converts its phytochemical compounds.

The antioxidants that emerge can control cell signalling and reduce inflammation. They are also neuroprotective, antithrombogenic, antidiabetic, and anticancer.

Helps fight cancer growth

Numerous studies have found that the antioxidant properties of this popular ingredient can aid in the fight against cancer. According to one study, it may help slow the growth of colon cancer cells. Compounds in aged black garlic can also help the body fight free radicals. This property reduces cell damage and may aid in the control of cancer cell growth and spread in the body.

Kicks up immunity

Your immune system is critical to your overall health. It protects against illness and infections and can even help prevent chronic conditions. Its antioxidants boost immunity by fighting free radicals, reducing inflammation, and preventing oxidative damage to your cells.

An in vitro study done in 2012 looked at the differences between black and raw garlic and their effects on immune function. It not only had the most potent anticancer and antioxidant properties, but it also had a stronger effect on stimulating immunity.

These immune-boosting benefits could have far-reaching effects on a variety of health issues, including allergies, autoimmune disorders, and acute infections.

Preserves cognitive function

Black garlic, like regular garlic, can have a powerful effect on brain health. It can reduce inflammation and may aid in the prevention of cognitive conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease due to its high antioxidant content.

An animal model published in Nutrients demonstrated that aged garlic extract improved memory in cognitively impaired rats while also reducing inflammation in the brain.

Another animal study from Indonesia discovered that this ingredient protected against oxidative stress and prevented memory impairment after monosodium glutamate, or MSG, administration in rats.

All Image: Courtesy Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: How much black garlic can be eaten in a day?

Answer: Doctors recommend eating one to three lonely black garlic cloves per day, equivalent to 3-5 grams; when eating, chew thoroughly so that the ingredients promote their use. Do not exceed the recommended dose because it may result in adverse reactions and side effects.

Question: Are there any side effects of black garlic?

Answer: Although black garlic does not appear to have significant side effects, it should be avoided in large quantities if you take blood-thinning medications or have a garlic allergy.

Question: What is black garlic fermenter?

Answer: Black garlic is simply fresh garlic (Allium sativum L.) that has been fermented at a high temperature and humidity for an extended period of time. The process darkens garlic cloves, imparts a sweet flavour, and changes their consistency from chewy to jelly-like.

Question: How to use black garlic for best results?

Answer: It can be used in the following ways: Add it with soy sauce to make a flavorful stir fry, Use it to season soups, Mash it into cheese dip or cream cheese, Blend it with mayo or hummus, Thinly slice cloves and add them to salads or pasta dishes, Use them as a topper for pizza.

Black Garlic: What is it, benefits, how to use, and more

Anushka Narula

Anushka likes to write about fashion, beauty, and other nice things. When not bound to her keyboard, she likes to make her Pinterest boards come to life.


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