DIY Black Garlic

~~2/28/2012~~

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.

The pan on top was the pan on the bottom, it needs a few more days to cook. The garlic below it is drying for a few days to intensify in flavor.

The garlic needs a few days to dry to make it easier to store.

Jan 2012

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.

From Left Clockwise: 30 days in the mason jar and 10 days drying, (2 cloves) 5 days in the mason jar and 5 days drying, 7 days in the mason jar and 3 days out drying, 8 days in the mason jar and 2 days drying.

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

  1. Warming box that can hold 140°F consistently
  2. Quart sized mason jars
  3. Garlic Bulbs
  4. Aluminum Foil
  5. 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.

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26 comments

  1. Adam, I dedicate the next month of bacon-eating-feel-goods to you, which is more than enough to ward off the darkness in the minds of those Black Garlic Cartel folks.

    Congratulations on figuring out the process and thank you for ever for publishing it!
    I searched the net for a loose-lipped grandma’s recipe to no avail, and here it is.

    I wonder if I could use an electric crock pot?

    Cheers.

    1. Oh good, I might need it! I am glad that you found it useful and my whole goal was to make it an easy to read post that doesn’t beat around the bush or dangle a slab of bacon in front of your face. Speaking of bacon and its un-ending awesomeness, I should get a post going for the bacon that I make….

      As for the crock pot, I would assume it could work on warming/hold mode, but I have never used a crock pot, and as long as the garlic isn’t piled in there then I don’t see why it wouldn’t.

  2. What heat source are you using to create a constant temperature of 140 degrees? I was considering using an old self cleaning stove where the door can be squeezed tightly closed with the self clean lever and then using heat lamps that can be adjusted using a dimmer switch.

    1. A heat lamp is my source, it worked very well and was more efficient than I expected. An old oven would work great too, if the elements still work you can just bypass the thermostat that is in the oven and put a new one in that can go to lower temperatures.

      1. It’s all good, I didn’t do a good job of organizing it, maybe that should be the next step!

        Sent from my iPhone

  3. Wow, I love learning new things on food blogs! While I am avid fan of roasted garlic, I have never even *heard* of black garlic before! I am fascinated. Thanks so much for sharing your process, your fermenter looks like something my husband would concoct out in the barn, hehe.

  4. exquisite project adam,
    but I notice there are lots of article in the web that point out that this black garlic could be made by a rice cooker on warmth setting.Could it be true?
    I was experimenting on that too with rice cooker myself,but it turns out the final result is pretty similar with your first experiment,its brown and mushy.and my rice cooker also end up watery.do you know what when wrong with it?

    1. I would guess that not enough moisture is leaving the cooker, I would think that it is similar to curing meat and you would want around 75% humidity. I try to think of what the weather would be like in Korea, where it originated. I feel that my process is as close to the original concept, my next experiment is to place the garlic above soy sauce to impart a unique flavor. I hope this answered your question!

  5. I have an electric smoker that will hold at one forty. It is dark(obviously), so it should work eh? Thanks for posting this method of making fermented garlic.
    Fred in NB Canada.

    1. It should work just keep an eye on it to make sure it can do it consistently for the 40 days and ensure that it stays humid. Good luck!

  6. Awesome post – thanks for the step-by-step instructions on the heating box! My BG addiction is getting a little ridiculous at $4/bulb. I cant wait to start making it at home. 3 cheers for saving money and not electrocuting myself in the process:)

    1. Great to hear that you enjoyed it! Check out my instructables too, lots of comments on different ways to do it, some cheaper but in my opinion not as effective.

  7. Great post! And hats off to you for sharing your experience with black garlic. Currently, I am also trying to do the same with a rice cooker. It really helps to know what I might expect to come across. So far it’s my 2nd day into the experiment and I am very excited to learn the result.

    1. Good luck! I have not made any in a while and i am waiting to get back into it. Let me know how the rice cooker works i know a lot of people that are trying but i have yet to hear of any results.

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