You Guys. Black Garlic is Delicious. Here's What I'm Doing With It

Ingredient Spotlight

For the last few months, I’ve been suspiciously eyeing the packages of black garlic at my neighborhood Trader Joe’s. As far as pantry ingredients go, it has a distinct air of mystery. I couldn’t help but wonder: Why is it black? How is it made? And most importantly, what on earth can I use it for? I’m so glad I finally got over my hesitation and brought some home — it turns out that it’s absolutely delicious!

Black garlic does not have any additives, and is not inoculated with any sort of culture or other fermenting agent. Its color comes from a several-weeks-long heating and drying process, wherein it slowly caramelizes and concentrates.

Peeling away the parchment-colored skin reveals glossy, midnight black cloves. They’re solid but soft, easily sliced thinly or blended into a sauce. The garlic has a smooth and silky texture and a mellow flavor, with a tangy note reminiscent of balsamic vinegar. There’s none of the usual sulfurous sting of fresh garlic, so it won’t give you garlic breath, even if you eat a whole clove or two.

But how to use it? I’ve been enjoying my black garlic sliced thinly and served on top of stir-fries, rice bowls, and cold soba noodle salads.

Next, I’m looking forward to incorporating it into vinaigrettes and sauces — I’m thinking it’d be wonderful blended with some rice vinegar and drizzled on top of sliced cucumbers and raw tofu for a summery first course.

Have you tried black garlic yet? What are your favorite uses for this unusual ingredient? We’d love to hear your ideas!

(Image credits: Coco Morante)