Black Garlic is obtained from Raw Garlic which is allowed to undergo the process of fermentation for not less than two weeks in a high temperature and humidity setting. This process turns the garlic cloves into a dark shade, while also giving them a sweet and earthy taste. Black Garlic has gained popularity because it has a lot of health benefits which range from keeping your cholesterol in check, boosting your immune system, preventing chronic diseases from cropping up etc. It is also an excellent source of antioxidants and vitamins which are needed to keep the body healthy.
Black Garlic is made by the heating the bulbs of fresh garlic and allowing it to ferment over a long period, ranging from two weeks to even three months time in some cases. There are a lot of machines available which helps you to make black garlic, and the most popular methods are by using a rice cooker, a slow cooker or a Black Garlic maker. The process is similar in most of the cases, and it involves you putting fresh raw garlic into the container, connecting the cooker or machine to the socket and allowing it to heat the garlic for a period. The time taken for the Garlic to be transformed into Black Garlic varies; the minimum time required is around 12 to 14 days. In some manufacturing process, the garlic is allowed to ferment for up to 3 months. The duration may vary depending upon the type and texture you wish to get.
Black Garlic and the Maillard Reaction
Though the process of the formation of Black Garlic is referred to as fermentation; there is no actual fermentation happening in the making of Black Garlic. The Reason why Garlic turns into black is due to a reaction known as the Maillard reaction. So what is the Maillard reaction? Maillard reaction in science speak is the chemical reaction which takes place between amino acids and the sugars in the presence of heat which results in the browning of food giving it a new colour, flavour and aroma. Amino acids are proteins which are normally found in food and sugar is also another compound which regularly occurs in food items. What happens during the Maillard reaction is that the Amino acids and sugars found in the food items are rearranged in such a way that they reflect light in a certain manner giving the food its signature brown colour and texture. Maillard reaction not only gives the food the brown colouring but it also adds flavour and aroma to it as well. During the Maillard reaction, several molecules are formed which gives a characteristic aroma to food items which can be observed while frying, roasting, heating etc. The Maillard reaction is not unique to just a few food items, but it occurs in almost all the food items that are cooked. Though the colouring maybe same, the flavour and the aroma may vary depending upon the food item. For a Maillard reaction to take place, it requires Heat, moisture and time. Thus, since Black Garlic is made under high heat, with moisture and takes a lot of time, Maillard reaction takes place in Black Garlic too, which gives it its Black colour as well as the unique aroma and taste. Thus, without the Maillard reaction Black Garlic cannot be made and as such without the Maillard reaction, the foods that we enjoy today will not have the unique aroma and flavour.
Cultural Origins of fermented garlic
Black Garlic also has a lot of cultural significance as well. It originated from the Asian continent, and many are of the belief that it was first introduced in Korea. The Koreans used Black Garlic as a Health product, and they used it to treat various types of illnesses and also used it to gain strength and vigour. Black Garlic gradually gained popularity, and as such, it started appearing in China, Vietnam and Thailand. The traditional way of preparing Black Garlic was by sealing them up in Ceramic or Earthen pots and letting them sit in a cool and dry area for several months allowing them to ferment naturally. Black Garlic carries with it a lot of cultural beliefs, in Korea, it was believed that giving the traditional six clove black garlic to women would grant the women supernatural powers and even immortality. Whereas, in the Taoist mythology which was practised by some communities in Vietnam and Thailand they held the belief that a six clove garlic was used as a part in the process of modifying the genes of a Taoist. This was supposed to grant them immortality by intensifying and increasing their vital energy.
Thus, throughout history and civilisation Black Garlic has been considered as a super food possessing several health qualities and benefits. And that case seems to be true even to this day as many studies and researches point to the fact that Black Garlic is indeed a Super Food.