These delicious, aged cloves will add a burst of rich flavor to elevate just about any dish.

By Maki Yazawa
October 05, 2020

Typically used in Asian cooking for sauces and seasoning, black garlic is a flavoring agent that delivers a soft, delicate taste that differs from its original state. Growing in popularity in recent years, many have turned to creating this mellow and highly flavorful ingredient into an at-home, DIY project that is surprisingly easy to make. All it takes is a little science and a  healthy serving of patience. Trust us, it’ll all be worth it in the end!

What Is Black Garlic?

Black garlic is a regular head of garlic that has been aged. Traditionally, it's been kept in a consistently warm and humid environment over a long period of time. This results in dark, rich cloves that are slightly jelly in consistency that are capable of adding a serious punch of umami to any dish. Undergoing the Maillard reaction—a chemical reaction between the amino acids and sugars of food resulting in the browning of that food—black garlic transforms from a pungent, spicy allium to a mild, sweet, and tangy ingredient, similar to the flavor of balsamic vinegar or tamarind. 

How to Make Black Garlic

In order to make black garlic, the fresh bulbs must be kept in a humidity-controlled environment in temperatures ranging from 140 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit for the course of several weeks to months. Fortunately, in order to achieve these conditions at home, you don’t need any fancy equipment—like a fermenting box—all you need is a rice cooker or slow cooker with a “warm” setting. 

First, clean four to five heads of garlic, or as many as desired that can comfortably fit in your slow cooker without touching. Use a dry sponge to scrub off any excess dirt without adding any water or soap. It is important that the garlic is dry and the head intact, as this will yield better results. Place the garlic in the cooker, turn on the “warm” setting and cover. The bulbs should sit in these conditions, untouched, for about three weeks *cue the patience* or until the cloves have turned soft and black. You may want to place the cooker in a well-ventilated area, as your house may smell a bit like garlic throughout the duration of the process.  

Black Garlic Benefits and Best Uses 

Not only is black garlic wildly delicious, it is packed with antioxidants, and has been shown to have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, too. Softer and sweeter than raw garlic, black garlic can be added to all sorts of dishes like flavored dips, compound butter for steak, mixed into ground beef for burgers or bolognese, used as a topping for pizza, or simply spread across a toasted loaf of bread. These delicious, aged cloves will add a burst of rich flavor to elevate just about any dish.