How to Cook With Black Garlic

With a smooth, soft texture and a rich, sweet flavor, black garlic can enhance the taste of many dishes.

Black garlic cloves


With centuries-old uses for both culinary and traditional medicinal purposes, black garlic has a long history of cultural significance, particularly in Korean, Japanese, and Chinese cuisines. It’s a flavor-enhancing, delicious ingredient that you need to add to your cooking repertoire. 

What is black garlic?

Aging is what sets black garlic apart from the fresh bulbs found at the produce section and farmers' market. But all black garlic begins from those same fresh garlic cloves. The aging process unfolds over the course of several days or weeks — depending on the method — and results in garlic cloves that have transformed to  a deep black color and developed a rich, tangy, molasses-like taste.  As the garlic cloves age under heated conditions, a chemical reaction (known as the Maillard reaction) occurs between the allium’s proteins and sugars that converts the flavor, aroma, and color from sharp and pungent to a distinctive mellow, sweet, and caramel-like taste and dramatic dark color.

What does black garlic taste like?

Black garlic has a sweet and slightly tangy flavor with a mild garlic taste, and a sticky, almost molasses-like texture similar to a date. This unique flavor and texture profile is due to the process of fermenting fresh garlic bulbs over a period of several weeks. Through this process of fermenting and caramelizing, faint notes of garlic remain along with balsamic and sweeter notes like tamarind, licorice, and molasses shine through.

How to make black garlic

Making black garlic at home is a huge undertaking requiring over a month of continual curing in a low temperature oven or a week or more using a slow cooker or rice cooker. And you’d have to cope with an intense garlic aroma that will fill your home over the course of such a project.

Where to buy black garlic

It’s easy enough to find black garlic at specialty markets and health food stores or find it at online retailers such as Amazon and eBay. Some local farmers markets and food co-ops may carry black garlic as well. You’ll find black garlic available in a few different forms, including whole bulbs, peeled cloves, puree, and dried and granulated. 

If you plan to keep black garlic over an extended period, purchasing whole bulbs is the best option. Peeled cloves are convenient for using black garlic in recipes that require minced or chopped garlic. A black garlic puree is ideal for incorporating the flavor into sauces, dressings, or marinades. Dried and granulated black garlic is perfect for use as a seasoning, as it can be sprinkled onto dishes or added to rubs and marinades. 

How to store black garlic

Freshly made black garlic can be stored for several months under the right conditions. It should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place such as a pantry or a cupboard, away from direct sunlight. To extend its life even more, it can also be stored in the refrigerator, where it can last up to six months. Black garlic that is bought from a store can be stored at room temperature until the package is opened, then it should be refrigerated.

However you store it, It is important to regularly check for signs of spoilage, such as mold, and to discard it if it appears to have gone bad.

How to use black garlic

Flavor soups and stews: Add black garlic to soups and stews for a rich and complex flavor like in this Beet Aguachile recipe, where its rich broth comes from the funkiness of the black garlic. 

Use as a condiment: Top just about any dish with black garlic. It's great dolloped on pizza or spread on the pizza dough before adding sauces and cheese. Or, smear it on bread for sandwiches, or serve it alongside grilled meats or fish. 

Add to sauces: Black garlic will bring sweetness and depth of flavor to sauces, marinades, and dressings. Because of its caramelized, soft, prune-like texture, black garlic is easily blended into a sauce — no mincing needed. The gravy in this Rib Eye Roast with Black Garlic–Red Wine Gravy, gets slight sweetness from black garlic. 

Make a spread: Make a spread out of black garlic by blending it with olive oil, a little lemon juice, and salt. Spread it on toast or crackers for a delicious snack. Or, check out this Steak Frites with Black Garlic Butter recipe that uses black garlic to make a delicious compound butter.

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