Black garlic is the new kid on the block when it comes to health foods, is it worth the hype?
Black garlic is having a moment as one of the new on-trend ingredients, not only for flavour, but the health benefits that have been attributed to this member of the onion family. Whilst it may seem like a new addition to the UK supermarket shelves, this ingredient has been around for a very long time and a traditional staple in East-Asian countries such as China and Korea.
The production of black garlic is done under controlled conditions of high temperature and humidity for at least 3 weeks. This natural fermentation process converts the pungent sulphurous compounds that give garlic its distinctively strong flavour and odour, into odourless substances. The black colour of this garlic is the result of new amino acids that are generated during the process along with dark pigments called melanoidins that darken the cloves.
Black garlic cloves are soft and chewy with a savoury-sweet taste that is reminiscent of molassess, balsamic and prunes. This variety of garlic works particularly well in dressings, sauces and marinades but has also been used in sweet recipes such as brownies and Ice-cream by creative food manufacturers on the Isle of White, who produce a large quantity of British garlic. Some people even like to eat the cloves straight from the bulb given their less pungent odour and taste when compared to traditional white garlic.
The majority of research around garlic and its extracts has involved traditional white garlic which is thought to benefit many areas of health including the heart (blood pressure, circulation and cholesterol) and immunity as well as possessing anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. These benefits are thought to be down to the array of plant chemicals contained in the bulbs that work together to produce a variety of responses. Garlic is able to synthesise the powerful antioxidant called allicin from two other compounds found in the bulbs. Many of the healthy benefits associated with white garlic are thought to be attributed to its high level of allicin.
Black garlic contains similar nutrients and other plant compounds to white garlic but their antioxidant capacity is thought to be four-fold. Below are a some of the health benefits associated with black garlic.
Health benefits of black garlic
• Black garlic contains vitamin C and B6, manganese and selenium
• Black garlic contains a sulpherous compound called S-allycysteine (SAC), which research suggests may help to inhibit cholesterol synthesis.
• S-allycysteine assists with the absorption of allicin, helping to metabolise it more easily. Allicin acts a powerful antioxidant the body, which helps to fight free-radical damage. This plant compound is also thought to posses anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties that may help to ward of infections within the body.
• Research suggests that black garlic extracts can increase the activity of white blood cells, which help the body to fight infections and viruses. This increase in activity may help to improve the immune targeting of abnormal body cells.
• According to cell studies, extracts found in black garlic are able to inhibit the growth of certain cancers such as stomach and colon, by triggering their natural destruct mechanism known as apoptosis (cell death). Whilst this does suggest a positive role of black garlic, much more research is required to directly link it to the prevention of cancer.
This recipe has been taken from my good friend Lily and the Detox Kitchen (www.detoxkitchen.co.uk)
Raw vegetable salad with black garlic dressing (download as a PDF raw-vegetable-salad-with-black-garlic-dressing)
210 calories, 12.7g fat, 2.3g sat fat, 112.4g carbohydrates, 8g sugar, 8.5g protein, 1.5g salt, 5.5g fibre
4 cloves black garlic, finely sliced
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp malden salt
1 handful radishes
½ red onion
½ green pepper, finely diced
1 handful cashew nuts, roasted and chopped to garnish
Micro coriander and edible flowers to garnish
- Place the black garlic in a pestle and mortar with the lemon juice, oil and salt and gently bash the cloves until the liquid has turned a dark brown colour. The tough texture of the black garlic does not lend itself well to being broken down so the pieces will remain intact. This is fine as the flavour will still infuse with the lemon juice and rapeseed oil.
- Finely slice the radishes and using a peeler, create long thin strips of courgette.
- Place them in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
- Serve the salad in large bowls and dot the pieces of black garlic, from the dressing, around the vegetables.
- Sprinkle with the cashew nuts and lemon zest and garnish with the coriander.
- Serves with dressing and edible flowers.
Download as a PDF raw-vegetable-salad-with-black-garlic-dressing