Black garlic (by Selvie Balaratnam)


Selvie, who lives in Mernda, is the co-owner of Selba Farm. Selba Farm have a stall at Eltham Farmers’ Market (1st, 2nd and 3rd Sundays) where they sell olive oil plus a few vegetable products. Here she writes about one of their products, namely black garlic.


Black garlic has a rich history spanning centuries, originating in Japan and Korea, where it held significance in traditional medicine and culinary customs.

Black garlic is fresh garlic that has been ‘caramelised’ by heating it to a particular temperature for a number of days until it undergoes the same reaction that marshmallows do when you toast them.

It is called ‘black garlic’ because the insides of the cloves turn black and chewy.

Black garlic tastes completely different than fresh garlic and is used completely differently. In texture and use, perhaps its nearest equivalent is quince paste!

You can easily make black garlic at home but you will need a ‘black garlic fermenter’ or equivalent (cost $50-100) and a lot of garlic (to fill the fermenter).

You can buy (or taste!) black garlic at Selba Farm’s stall at Eltham Farmers’ Market.

How we make our black garlic at Selba Farm?

Although I live in Mernda, my farm is in in Toolleen. At our farm, we harvest purple and white garlic before processing it into black garlic. This involves placing the garlic in a controlled environment of heat and humidity for several days, encouraging a natural enzymatic reaction, called the ‘Maillard reaction’, to occur. This reaction involves the interaction of amino acids and sugars, altering their properties and transforming our raw garlic into black garlic.

How black garlic tastes?

Black garlic offers a unique taste experience, blending delightful sweetness with savoury richness, accented by subtle hints reminiscent of balsamic vinegar and tamarind.

Curious about its flavour? Please request a sample at our stall at Eltham Farmers’ Market and experience its taste first hand!

What are the properties of black garlic?

Besides its unique flavour, black garlic is celebrated for its potential health-promoting properties, as it is packed with antioxidants. It's believed to combat free radicals, aiding in disease prevention (i.e. boosting immunity), and may have anti-inflammatory properties. It might also support heart health by reducing cholesterol, but further research is required for confirmation.

How can you use black garlic?
  1. Direct consumption: Eat it as is, straight from the cloves. Its sweet and umami-rich flavour makes it a unique snack or addition to cheese platters.
  2. Condiment: Mash or puree black garlic into a paste. Use it as a spread on bread, mix it into dips, or incorporate it into salad dressings for added depth of flavour.
  3. Cooking ingredient: Add finely chopped or mashed black garlic to sauces, soups, stir-fries, marinades or glazes to impart a deep, complex flavour to dishes.
  4. Garnish: Slice or mince black garlic and use it as a topping for pizzas, salads, roasted vegetables or meats just before serving for a flavourful garnish.
  5. In sandwiches or wraps: Include black garlic paste or slices in sandwiches, wraps or rolls for a unique taste twist.
  6. Paired with meats: Use it as a side condiment with grilled meats, incorporate it into burger patties, or mix it into meatloaf for an enhanced flavour profile.
  7. Black garlic butter: Create black garlic butter by mixing mashed black garlic with softened butter, herbs and salt (if desired). Refrigerate until firm and use it as a flavouring in various dishes.
  8. Olive oil infused with black garlic: Elevate your dishes by infusing olive oil with the unique flavour of black garlic. Use it in dressings, marinades or as a finishing touch to your culinary creations.
  9. Black garlic ice cream: Incorporate black garlic into an ice cream base for a unique and flavourful dessert option.
  10. Get your chef's hat on: Feel free to explore the culinary wonders of black garlic in your kitchen laboratory! We'd love to hear about your innovative creations when you visit us next!

 Leave a Reply