Because who has the patience to make black garlic from scratch?

By Maki Yazawa
February 08, 2021
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Trader Joe's has done it again. As soon as I got word that my beloved supermarket chain released a brand new product made with black garlic, you better believe I zipped right over to stock up. Among the demigods of TJ's seasonings like Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend and the classic and so-reliable Lemon Pepper, this hot new item might be a real contender. Crunchy, sweet, and absolutely beaming with umami, this product adds depth to any dish that lacks in the flavor department. 

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You may recall a few months ago that we shared tips for making black garlic at home. If you've never tried it, you're really missing out. That being said, it takes weeks (literally) to make it from scratch, which is why we're endlessly grateful for this new release. Sparing you the need to whip out a heavy-duty fermenting box or having to endure the patience of waiting for your head of garlic to transform into its more luxurious form, you can now conveniently find fermented black garlic on the shelves of your local Trader Joe's store

What Is Black Garlic?

Black garlic is the fermented—and dare I say better—version of a regular head of garlic that loses its stringent bite as it ages and matures. When held in a warm and humid environment for several days, the garlic undergoes the Maillard reaction that breaks down the sugars and amino acids, resulting in a creamy, slightly sweet, and milder-tasting ingredient.

The Taste Test

When I first got my hands on the bottle, I was a little surprised by how small (just over one ounce) it is compared to the other Trader Joe's seasonings they sell. However, upon opening it, I quickly realized why. The dried black garlic's small granules are packed with flavor and a delicious garlicky scent—the kind that makes you drool instantly. The intoxicating aroma has hints of caramelized onions and even reminds me of a tangy and sweet teriyaki sauce. 

Eager to try it, I sprinkled a generous amount onto a mozzarella and balsamic salad I was eating. The dried black garlic has a similar consistency to coarsely ground coffee, and a little goes a long way. The bits become slightly tacky when in contact with moisture, but I didn't find it off-putting. I did notice, however, that about a half of a teaspoon of this seasoning can definitely get the job done; I was a bit heavy-handed in my overly excited state when I first used this product. But rest assured: You can be much more liberal with your use than you would raw garlic, as its flavor is much more subdued. 

Oh, and did we mention that it only costs $2.99?

Instructions and Labeling

According to the label, this is a product of South Africa made with dried ground black garlic and rice hull (to prevent caking). It recommends using the seasoning on "avocado toast, in butter and sauces, on vegetables and proteins, or any time you want extra depth of flavor." To prevent unwanted clumping, they recommend refraining from sprinkling this product over steaming pots and suggest you store it in a cool, dry place to prolong its shelf life. 

BTW, this isn't the first time Trader Joe's has dabbled with selling a black garlic product. A few years back, the company sold fresh cloves and bulbs of Japanese Aomori black garlic, but it looks like the product was discontinued around 2018. Admittedly, this product is not as creamy and luxurious as a spreadable clove of fresh black garlic, but it offers a quick fix for an otherwise bland dish. 

How to Use Trader Joe's Black Garlic

I'll be sneaking in a sprinkling of this seasoning whenever possible. As the packaging suggests, you should use it for anything that you'd add garlic to—this includes meat, fish, roasted vegetables, dips, and more. Use this seasoning as a way to take your daily morning avocado toast to the next level, or to add a dash of je ne sais quoi to keep your dinner guests on their toes. Unlike the intense and often overwhelming taste of raw garlic, this product offers a subtle hint of flavor that won't overpower your palate. Here are a few more creative ways to use it.

Credit: Jennifer Causey

Get the recipe

For a healthy-ish snack, experiment with adding this crunchy, flavorful product to a homemade dip made with labneh and caramelized onions. Pair with a glass of Pinot Noir for happy hour perfection.

Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Get the recipe

Adding a dash of black garlic seasoning to this smoked salmon toast will add a delicious hit of umami to the already flavor-packed breakfast idea.

Credit: Victor Protasio

Get the recipe

Potatoes seasoned with salt, vinegar, and black garlic is perfection in a side dish.

Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Get the recipe

Seasoning the crispy tofu with black garlic in this healthy soup recipe will make you wonder why you ever thought tofu was bland. 

Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Get the recipe

Toss the cornflakes with a hit of black garlic seasoning before coating the chicken for the easiest, most satisfying family-friendly dinner.