Fermentation is one of the oldest forms of food preservation. We eat fermented foods all the time. I can list at least ten most of us consume every day or week: coffee, chocolate, beer, wine, cheese, yogurt, soy sauce, tea, salami, bread. Other foods that we may not consume that often but many we have tried or heard of: miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, buttermilk, fish sauce/paste, kombucha.
Fermenting methods popped up all over the globe independently from each other. It makes sense. Along with drying it is an excellent way to keep foods without refrigeration. Often the transformation of glucose by bacteria, yeast and/or molds in a food to other substances increases the nutrition of that food. Sometimes this is proven scientifically, or other times it is ancient handed down knowledge.
In my search for new and interesting fermented foods I found black garlic. Traditionally it is fermented in a cool place in clay pots. The techniques used are borrowed from Korea and take about seven years to produce the above product. Now, with a combination of modern scientific techniques and old traditional methods the finished product can be fermented with higher heat in three months! I can’t say if there is a difference between the two in terms of the quality of the end product. The only black garlic available here is definitely not seven year old garlic.
Black garlic is an amazing experience. The intense garlic taste and flavour is gone. All that is left is a mellow, lingering sweetness. The cloves are the consistency of dried apricots and remind me more of a fruit than of garlic. Molasses and caramel come to mind when eating it. It is an interesting example of the elaborate transformation fermentation can have on a food. It creates something completely new.