Aged Black Garlic: a new superfood?

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Why is it that Asian ingredients that are “good for you” are so darn ugly and nasty sounding? Mom used to feed me and my brother bird’s nest soup, chilled frog jelly soup and countless other strange protein specimens that would probably make you wonder how I’m still alive today.

The latest “it” ingredient is aged black garlic. It’s matte-black and gooey-soft with a chewyishy texture. It’s the new plaything of gourmet restaurant kitchens across the U.S.. and its recent appearance on Top Chef and Iron Chef television shows created newfound fame for this otherwise frightful thing. Trust me, if you found this on your kitchen counter and didn’t know that it was supposed to be black, you’d probably think it was rotten.

Well, good thing it’s not rotten, but rather “aged,” a more pleasant way to describe the process of letting time and temperature do its thing. I spoke with Scott Kim, CEO of Black Garlic, Inc. and he told me that garlic heads either grown in Korea or California are put into a machine he invented which fluctuates temperature and humidity for thirty days. What results is supposedly a garlic that has twice the antioxidants as regular garlic.

I think there’s a lot of misinformation and mystery about black garlic – some articles hint that black garlic has been used for hundreds of years in Korea and Japan as a superfood and Kim claims to have invented the machine a handful of years ago after a story he heard from someone in the garlic business in Korea. I asked, “Is the black garlic exposed to light source in his machine (as I’ve read online)?” Kim answered no.

I asked him how people used to make black garlic before his magical machine and he told me he didn’t know. How do they make black garlic in Japan? He didn’t know either. The scientific study done in Korea of the antioxidant level is not available online, though Kim did offer to send me information in Korean. 

So, I’m highly skeptical on its superfood status and the origins of black garlic until I can find more information. But there’s one thing I’m sure of – and that is I love the taste of black garlic. It’s sweet, mild, caramelly and reminds me of molasses. When you bite into a raw clove, you don’t get the harsh-hit-you-in-the-face that regular garlic has. It’s smooth, soft and the garlic flavor is mellowed out times one-hundred.

I was lucky enough to get a few heads to play with from my friend Chef David Eger of (and in exchange I let him use the photo of black garlic that I shot), where they sell four ounces of black garlic for $10.00. I’ve sliced a few cloves (as best as I could…it’s so soft that it’s difficult to slice), fried them in olive oil with scallops and it was dynamo.

Black Garlic at our Blogger Playdate

My friends, Chef Mark and Jennifer of The Culinary Media Network in New York made a bruschetta out of a few cloves for our dinner party and guests could not stop eating it. I had to steal bruschetta off of people’s plates just to get a photograph of it! If you want to see black garlic in action, watch the Culinary Media Network video below (note: I didn’t speak with Scott Kim, founder of Black Garlic, Inc. until the day after this video was shot – so the comment about the garlic being exposed to light is incorrect.)

Superfood Status?

Is it an ancient Asian secret superfood? I don’t know and am trying to hold my judgement until an independant lab in the U.S. can verify and publish the results in English. But try aged, black garlic for its taste. I like using the black garlic is raw (like in a bruschetta), roasted whole cloves and then smeared on toasted bread with a drizzle of olive oil or sliced and fried like in this recipe.


Black Garlic with Scallops Recipe

Even if you don’t have black garlic, this is a simple recipe for scallops. Just substitute the black garlic with regular garlic. Just don’t expect any nooky tonight, unless you’re both having the dish!3 tablespoons butter, divided
16 extra-large dry-packed scallops, patted very dry (about 1 ½ pounds)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves black garlic, thinly sliced (or use regular garlic)
1-2 teaspoons finely minced jalepeno pepper
¼ cup white wine
2 teaspoons good balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat a large frying pan with just 2 tablespoons of the butter over high heat. Season the scallops with salt and pepper, and when the butter is bubbling, gently lay the scallops in the pan, not touching. Sear the scallops and cook for 4 minutes, turning once. They should have a lovely golden brown color on both sides. Transfer to a platter.

To the same hot pan on high heat, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the garlic slices and the jalepeno pepper and fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in the white wine and the balsamic vinegar into the pan. Let simmer for 1 minute, season with salt and pepper and add the fresh parsley. Pour over scallops.

Serves 4

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Comments 82

    1. Seth

      Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, Woody. It’s sweet and chewy. We put it in our hash browns. Try it, you’ll love it!

  1. Scott Ross

    These look so darned inviting! I love all the components, and I prat that one day I’ll be able to assemble them as artfully as you have done.

  2. Bree

    The photographs in this article are absolutely gorgeous!! Would it be possible to obtain the rights to run one of them in our magazine? With proper credit, of course 🙂

  3. *Jessie*

    I really dont like black garlic I love normal garlic.. but my father eats a clove every day and he use to have trouble with energy. Until my boyfriend and I introduce him to black garlic. He loved it! He didnt like the retail packs tho, he loved to peeled black garlic.. very pricey but it helps your health in the long run. So I would recommend many elderly people should eat this. My boyfriend is friends with the owners of black garlic and I know it has double the ingredients of normal garlic. So Im glad this product is moving faster! And who ever wrote this do you have more recipes?? I’m a cook and my boyfriend and my dad would love for me to cook them something with black garlic.

    Thanks! Nice video!

    1. Kein Lew

      Thank you for your info. Feel bad that the video has been removed. I really like to know how is the black garlic being processed…fermentation? How was it put to “aged”?

  4. Nancy Pham

    Do you have other recipes using black garlic that you can recommend?

    I don’t, but search online — there’s a great Mac and Cheese recipe out there that uses black garlic. ~j

  5. mike

    Hello there – the food experts,

    Please explain how good blackgarlic is and how to use it.
    I would like to learn how to use it and where to buy it.
    Can you make blackgarlic at home? If it is difficult to make
    at home, where can I buy this blackgarlic?
    Thank you very much for your help.


  6. bilth

    Although I do love Earthy Delights as they have great products I must say I found my black garlic after reading this post at which at last check has a slightly better price for more product.


    Love black garlic but can’t afford the prices! Please give me a recipe I can make at home –

  8. Tonyytysd

    My parents back home made a batch for me, and it tastes DELISH aha. Yeah idk for sure if its truly good for you, but it definitely tastes better than raw garlic.

  9. Jon

    Your comments about Mr. Kim and his machine with regard to “aged black garlic” aren’t really true. Mr. Kim’s machine produces “fermented black garlic” not “aged black garlic”. Aged black garlic is exactly that “aged” not fermented in a machine.

  10. Lee

    Yes, this is fermented black garlic, not ‘aged’. As a distributor, I have to say Mr. Kim is not the inventor, the technology was first developed by Japanese. However, if they told you those black garlics are original from Korea or Japan, do not believe them. Both countries import almost 80% garlics from China. And now all black garlics on Japan and Korea market are made in China.
    One of my supplier is this Chinese factory, they told me they sold 6800 tons black garlics to Japan last year. and they r not the only chinese factory who can produce black garlics, as I know theres abt 30~50 companies doing this. Of course, only those best quality product can get license to export.

    They sent 5 packs abt 50 or 60 heads black garlics to me last year, but I dont know how to use it, so I threw away all. After reading ur recipes, I think Im gonna ask them send more to me asap. LoL

    [email protected]

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  11. Lee

    If you think it’s difficult to slice black garlics, maybe you can try some minced black garlic, or powder. But I dont know if they sale it on US market or not, we sold a lot in Europe, u even can find black garlic and tomato sauce and black garlic dipping here. LoL

  12. John

    I came a across black garlic when a friend of my Mother’s gave her a bunch of buds. She is this incredibly energetic Korean grandmother who is constantly making kimchee, growing way different stuff in her garden, and pickling everything in site. She made black garlic by slow and very low roasting garlic for 9 days in her oven. Sounds like a lot of work but with black garlic selling for up to $100 a pound in Toronto, sounds like a good idea. I borrowed a few buds to try in some dishes.

  13. novelyn

    i though you’re going to show me how to make black garlic at home. so disappointing. I read the whole article only to find out a recipe that uses black garlic!

  14. Jeff Camp

    Yes. You can make Black Garlic at home.

    Black garlic is a traditionally Korean specialty that is also becoming common in North America. While it may be simple to purchase pre-packaged black garlic, it can be more rewarding to make your own at home. Once your garlic is ready, you can use it in all sorts of dishes such as pasta, hummus, pizza or stir-fries. Fermenting the garlic is a simple process but it does take a long stand-by time, so be prepared to wait a while for your black garlic to be ready.

    * Put as many whole, unpeeled garlic bulbs as you would like in your container. The container can be any material that is safe for the oven, and should be big enough to hold the amount of garlic you want to make.2

    * Wrap the container with the foil. You should wrap it as tightly as possible to prevent any contaminants from getting in and to prevent too much garlic aroma from wafting out.

    * Place the tightly wrapped container in an oven set to about 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Many ovens can’t be set this low, but if it is a gas oven it may be warm enough with just the pilot light on. If you don’t want to leave your oven on for an extended period, you can also use a rice cooker set to “warm,” a food dehydrator with all but one of the trays taken out, a plate warmer or a slow cooker. Just be sure that the temperature remains at about 130 to 150 degrees and won’t shut off automatically.

    * Leave the container to ferment for 40 days. It is edible at 10 days, but to get the full effect you should wait the full 40 days. In that time, the cloves will have become a deep, inky black color, and will be soft and spread-able and slightly sweet, similar to roasted garlic but much richer in texture.

  15. SouthernTexan

    I am in love with black garlic, currently. I purchased two containers of peeled black garlic and was scared to try it at first. The first container I used mixed with butter stuffed under the skin of a chicken I roasted. It was delicious.

    Then I got brave and tasted it by itself. Now (long story, won’t bore you) I cannot eat any food that is not soft. That means I cook and puree most everything. And that a lot of foods are off limits. But I have been snacking on black garlic like candy.

    I would love to find more recipes using it, though. And to find it locally. About to have to order more and shipping is almost as much as the garlic.

    I froze it originally, and then just took the container out and sat it in the fridge overnight. It appears to freeze and thaw just fine for anyone wondering.

    As for making my own, good luck to you all trying that. I will leave that up to the experts and just concentrate my efforts on eating it. And creating new recipes.

  16. etim

    To save $$ and to also keep it at a constant temp, just put the container on top of your hot water heater tank and cover it with insulation. Do a test jar of water first and check it with a meat thermometer.

    BTW—this comment section needs an “edit” option!

  17. Ruth

    I agree, I searched many sites and this was the best price. Now I am looking for recipes to try it on 🙂

  18. Richard taft

    Place a few heads garlic tightly wrapped in tin foil in your rice cooker and set it to “keep warm” for 10 days. I just finished a batch, wonderful, came out perfect.

  19. Gayle Farmer

    I just got my first black garlic as a giveaway for a order and I just love it. So far, I’ve only eaten one clove for a snack, but I’d imagine this would be great on baked potatoes, any kind of crusty bread, pasta with a light oil base – I prefer walnut oil over olive oil, since I love the bouquet.

    Going to try it tonight on chunks of sauteed lobster tail, sprinkled on top of my pasta and in dipping bread sauce. I can’t wait!


  20. GerryS

    I just saw a story about this and how to make.
    Use your electric rice cooker, plug it in with whole garlic cloves inside. KEEP rice cooker on the keep warm setting for 9-12 days. Open and Turn the garlic cloves every other day. FWIW, I am going out to buy some garlic tomorrow and try this——-g

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  21. Helen Griffiths

    Hi, I am making the black garlic as I write, my friend gave a friend gave me some to taste about 3 weeks ago because of the antioxidants in the garlic. I loved them, she told me how to make them. I put only 8 garlic bulbs in because was not sure if my rice cooker would stay on warm (it does)
    Next time I will fill it. She told me to leave it for 10days then test to see if they have turned black and soft. If not then leave for another 4days, that is how long she does hers for. I love them taste like mollasas I have 4 cloves per day.

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