ajo negro

That’s what the Spanish would call it, this new discovery of mine.  Thinking I’d done about all one can with Allium sativum, and happy with that, some aging hippie at the Santa Fe farmers’ market sold me a little bottle of black garlic, telling me of its subtle taste and health benefits, but not revealing details of its making other than to say a prolonged fermentation was involved.  Once home, I made a wonderful salad dressing with it, then dove into research on the stuff.  Apparently, it’s a staple of Korean cooking that has become fashionable with some Anglos recently.  Plain old garlic is set to ferment at a low heat for weeks, ol’ Mr. Maillard reaction takes place https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/maillard-reaction, turning simple sugars into more complex, and tasty, compounds.  It’s why browned foods taste better. 

It seemed I had all the elements for my own experiment.  We had a fine oven in the downstairs kitchen that seldom gets used.  Of my 3 turkey roasters, the oval one seemed well suited.  So on June 9th, I went out and bought 18 heads of garlic at Busch’s (theirs is the best), set the oven between “warm” and 200, plunked my Meater (shows temps on my phone) in the empty roaster, and was pleased when it registered 167 degrees.  Guides on making black garlic wanted 140-190.  I put the garlic in the pan, covered it with one sheet of Saran Wrap and 2 sheets of foil, plunked on the cover and closed the oven door.  Instructions on black garlic said the stuff could be ready in 3 weeks.  I just let it go, the low hum of the oven’s fan the only reminder something was going on downstairs.

Today, a steak salad was on the menu, and I thought some sort of black garlic dressing might be in order.  I got up early and attacked the roaster, a little wary as to what I might find.  After all, my garlic might be burnt to a crisp.  Getting the cloves out of 18 heads of fermented garlic was way easier than dealing with a similar amount of fresh garlic.  I ended up with a huge bowl of hard black cloves, still not reassuring the “burnt to a crisp” worries.  Total weight of the cloves was 13.3 oz.  I never weighed the original 18 heads (bad scientist!), but I believe there was some dessication.  These cloves weren’t the soft rubbery cloves I’d bought in Santa Fe.  What to do with these?  Fortunately, as I googled around “black garlic”, I came across “black garlic powder”.  So into the spice grinder my cloves went, and what emerged was a pint jar of wonderfulness.  So fragrant in the grinder, I knew these hadn’t been a scorched botched experiment.

So comes the scramble to find the right dressing recipe.  The Santa Fe one wouldn’t do, as that was soft garlic.  We came up with the following, a little modified from the source.  Let me tell you, it is muy tasty. 

Now the challenge is what to do with the rest of our pint.  The TSBP we threw into the dressing used up 0.46 oz of our 13.3 oz stock, leaving 28 more TBSP to kick up whatever might seem to be needing black garlic, and a TBSP is kind of on the high side for dosing.  Working through the calculations, with 18 heads yielding 13.3 ounces, a TBSP 0.46 oz, a head of garlic accounts for about 3 TBSP. So many adventures await, and many happy returns.


Published by rike52

I retired from the Rheumatology division of Michigan Medicine end of June '19 after 36 years there. Upon hitting Ann Arbor for the second time (I went to school here) it took me almost 8 months to meet Kathy, 17 months to buy her a house (on Harbal, where we still live), and 37 months to marry her. Kids never came, but we've been blessed with a crowd of colleagues, friends, neighbors and family that continues to grow. Lots of them are going to show up in this log eventually. Stay tuned.

2 thoughts on “ajo negro

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: