Instructables.com has asked me to post a guide on creating black garlic, and of course I did, and I entered it into one of their competitions. So please help me out with your votes for the next few days!
A new batch of garlic has almost finished and I have found something very interesting. I started by buying 5# of garlic to see how large batches would turn out. I then bought two rectangle cake pans to use as my vessels, and some stacking drying racks to put the garlic on. I loaded up the two pans with the garlic, a single layer, do not stack or it could cause uneven “cooking”. I then put a piece of foil on top of the pans and then wrapped them very well with plastic to ensure that the moisture would stay in the pan. After 30 days I ended up with incredible results, the garlic was a deep black, smelled great, and didn’t have any bit of bitterness to it. Unfortunately it was only to the top pan, the pan underneath didn’t get the proper heat, so that pan went back in to cook for a little longer. But to find that the pan on top was beyond perfect is amazing to me, I removed the garlic from the pan and set it on the drying rack, which will remain there for a few days. Below are some pictures of the garlic before it has been dried and a picture of the new setup.
Since the day I paid $30 a pound for black garlic I was mesmerized by the process and the flavor. I wanted to know how it was done and how I could do it myself. The actual process is posted vaguely all over the internet but the creator of the name brand Black Garlic has kept his process a secret. He has built a patented “machine” to produce this garlic that has been kept quiet, at least I haven’t seen any information on it. So after reading numerous posts about making black garlic I decided to tackle this project, and since I had and old hood fan from my stove and a non-functional wine cooler, I figured I could build a warming box to re-create black garlic. Using these two items and a thermostat I was able to build a heating box where my garlic could stay nice and warm to allow fermentation. The whole heads of garlic were placed into glass mason jars, which may not be the best choice but at this point it was the best option until I understood what was going on. After a few trial runs I realized that the garlic would ferment and turn brown with little effort in about 30 days. After a full 40 days, which is the amount of time to ferment the garlic, I found that it never turned black. I removed the lids of the mason jars to see if that would help in any way, and after 15 days of that my garlic was black and hard as a rock. This rock hard garlic made me realize that I had built a very large-scale dehydration box, and that the garlic was in the open air too long. I immediately rushed to the store and bought more garlic to start the second round of fermenting. This time I had four different tests going to figure out when and how long the garlic needed to dry for. After 40 days the end results were beautiful, I had two products that were black, one that was brownish black, and one that was black and hard as a rock.
At the end I had three usable products out of four, which is pretty good, I used the soft and dark cloves in sauces and marinades, and the hard dried out garlic was ground up in a spice grinder to make a very pungent black garlic powder. This powder did great in rubs for pork and chicken, and did great when dehydrated in pasta dough. The color of the dough was a dull brown so I added mushroom powder to it as well to get a very nice natural looking mushroom pasta. With all of this being said, I am happy with the product and will continue to produce as much as I can. There are still a few different techniques that I want to try but until then here is the “recipe”.
What you need
- Warming box that can hold 140°F consistently
- Quart sized mason jars
- Garlic Bulbs
- Aluminum Foil
- 40 days of patience
- Start by sterilizing all of your mason jars, you will need one mason jar per bulb of garlic, you do not want to stack or cram the garlic into the jars. The warm air needs to flow evenly around the bulbs of garlic.
- Place a bulb of garlic in each mason jar and put the lid on finger tight. You do not want it too loose or the moisture from the garlic will escape.
- Wrap each jar with aluminum foil, this will ensure that the light doesn’t affect the product and will help keep the heat even in the glass jars.
- Place the jars in the warming box and keep the heat at 140°F for 30 days.
- After the thirty days are up remove the foil and lids of the mason jars, there will be a little pressure built up in the jar, the garlic will be a light brown color, and should smell sweet.
- Put the garlic back into the warming box without the lids for 10 more days, this will allow the garlic to dehydrate and concentrate the flavor.
- At the end of the 10 days remove one clove from a bulb of garlic and make sure that it has reduced in size by more than half. If not, then continue to dehydrate for 1-2 more days.
- Once it is black and the proper consistency remove the bulbs from their jar and let them air dry overnight on the kitchen counter. Store in the fridge or in a Ziploc bag in a cool and dark place until ready to use.
There are so many uses for this product and I have posted a few uses throughout my blog.
After another forty day cycle of fermenting garlic I was very eager to see how it turned out. From my last posts you can see the different process’ that I used to achieve this wonderful product. Of my four test subjects I have two that I am very happy with, and they all gave me great info for starting the next batch. Below are the pictures of the final products.
The test on the far left was my favorite, followed by the one on the right. After the 40 days they both ended up with very close drying times. The sample on the bottom has a significantly shorter time to dry over the forty days, and the top sample dried to the point to where it is rock solid. I plan on turning the hard sample into a powder to use in pasta dough, breads, and infusing oils. Again you can see my previous posts, Round 1 and Round 2 on the whole process of making black garlic.
I have about twelve days left on the black garlic and all of the cloves are looking very promising. The third set is the only one that I am concerned about right now because the cloves are very dry but they do have that nice concentrated look to them. The fourth set has not been opened yet so they continue to look like the original batch of garlic that I made. I am very excited for this batch to be done so I can start producing larger batches!
I should probably get serious every time I start these experiments, as I am not the type of person that likes to do things multiple times, but then again that doesn’t sound like much fun. So here goes the second round of black garlic, I am a week into it and have created many different conditions to hopefully yield a successful product in 40 days. With the first round of experimenting I found that I got the flavor and the aroma of black garlic, but not the distinct color that it is named for. That brings me to four different variables to allow the garlic to dry and concentrate in flavor.
The setup includes eight half pint mason jars with lids and my drying cabinet which you can see in the first round of experimenting. For the second round I have divided up the jars into four separate tests, with two bulbs of garlic in each one jar labeled A and the other B, which is how I will refer to them. All of the bulbs will be in the box for 40 days, but at certain times they will have their lids removed to allow the garlic to dry and concentrate in flavor. My drying times are as follows:
First set: 8 days with the lid and 2 days without, 8 days of drying total over the full 40.
Second set: 7 days with the lid and 3 without, 12 days of drying total.
Third set: 5 days with the lid and 5 without, 20 days of drying total.
Fourth set: 30 days with the lid and 10 days without.
All of the jars labeled A will be sprayed with water before their lid’s get put back on after each drying period, and jars B will not. The idea is to dry them but still keep the cloves moist. By adding a little water after drying I know that the cloves won’t dry hard. What I don’t know is if the garlic will have enough of its own moisture near the end of the test to not need any more added water, which is why I am trying the two variations.
This concludes the first round of black garlic; I have a product the smells and tastes like black garlic but does not look black. Black garlic isn’t really black to begin with, it is just a very deep brown; you can see this when you purée it with water, so the product I have is very similar but not quite right. Now it’s time to work on getting the color right. Round two will start in about a week with variable temperatures and added drying times.
The forty days are up and it is time to cut the garlic to see what I have. There are major changes in the garlic and as you can see below, the garlic has turned brown, it is still a little firm, and compared to other black garlic that I have used, this one is more paste like. I am going to give it twenty more days then check it again.
I removed a clove of garlic from the chamber, pulled it out of the mason jar and started to see some very promising changes. The skin is starting to brown, the cloves are becoming very soft, which is another trait of black garlic, and there is a stronger fermented smell. It’s hard to see real noticeable changes from the picture, I will be posting a cross section at the 20 day mark.
After getting home from work I noticed a much different smell in the house; it wasn’t bad but it was different. The smell was very similar to roasted garlic, but not completely roasted. I am about six days in so I am guessing that the garlic is beginning to “cook”. I am very excited to see what it looks like after the next five days.
On October 8th I fired up the warming box and loaded it up with a pound of garlic. Before all of this, I had to actually make a box the could consistently hold a temperature of 140° F. I found a mini fridge for $20 that didn’t work to be my warming box. The next step was to heat it so I picked up a mountains socket and a heat bulb. When I replaced the hood in my kitchen, I saved the old one for a reason (I didn’t know what at the time). I doctored up the vent to slide into the mini-fridge. Now I have a functioning fan with two switches, one for the light and one for the fan; both of which came off my old hood and is mounted inside the box. The hardest part of the setup was wiring a thermostat so I didn’t have to keep checking on the box and switching it on and off. After a few blown fuses and wandering in the dark, I finally got it wired and functioning.
Inside of the wine box I sprayed glued foil onto the glass and around the fan housing and light housing.
This fan came out of the hood unit in my kitchen, it was old soo I cleaned it up and put it to use.
Digital temperature and humidity gauge is mounted on the side and an access hole for the thermostats.
Far left: Thermostat for a water based heating unit, temperature range is 100°F to 250°F. Middle switch: Variable switch to control the fan speed. Far right: Light switch, it is not necessary as both the fan and the light are wired into the relay on the thermostat.