Black Garlic Will Transform Your Cooking—Here's How to Make It at Home

These delicious, aged cloves will elevate just about any dish.

Black garlic–a regular head of garlic that's been aged–is typically used in Asian cooking for sauces and seasoning. This flavoring agent delivers a soft, delicate taste that differs from its original state, and it's surprisingly easy to make. All it takes is a little science and a healthy serving of patience.

What Is Black Garlic?

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

How to Make Black Garlic

To make black garlic, keep the fresh bulbs in a humidity-controlled environment in temperatures ranging from 140°F to 190°F for several weeks to months. Fortunately, you don't need any fancy equipment—like a fermenting box—to achieve these conditions at home. All you need is a rice cooker or a slow cooker with a "warm" setting.

First, clean four to five heads of garlic, or as many as can fit in your slow cooker without touching. Use a dry sponge to scrub off excess dirt, making sure that the garlic is dry and intact. 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. Place the cooker in a well-ventilated area, as your house may smell a bit like garlic during the process.

Benefits and Best Uses

Not only is black garlic wildly delicious, but it is also 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 dips or a compound butter for steak. It can also be 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 just about any dish.

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