Sous vide black garlic

Brad Leone recently did an episode on fermented garlic miso, and in it there was an aside of starting up a black garlic experiment. Recently he finished an episode on the black garlic itself, but the initial episode was enough to plant a seed in my mind of doing a bunch of black garlic myself.

His technique involves placing the garlic into a sealed bag and that into a dehydrator at around 130F. However, my dehydrator tends to be both very loud and high on power consumption, so I decided to try using my sous vide circulator instead.

I started the process on September 21. At first I actually did put it in my dehydrator (with my Kill-a-Watt inline to monitor power consumption) but I found that the dehydrator was:

  1. Loud
  2. High on energy consumption (around 250W sustained)
  3. Filled my home with the smell of garlic, which isn’t nearly as pleasant as you might think after two days straight

thus me deciding to switch to the sous vide circulator. (Incidentally, mine is a Sansaire, but they have reportedly gone out of business and if I were to buy one today I’d probably go with Anova or perhaps the nano version.)

The basic idea: I filled a bag with food-safe weights (specifically I used a set of whiskey stones that I never use for actual drinks) and then layered my cloves of garlic on top. Then I put the bag into the sous vide chamber, and then surrounded it with water to displace the air out. Finally I set my circulator to 130F, and let it sit for… a while. (The Kill-a-Watt, incidentally, measured the sustained power consumption at around 60W.)

After a couple weeks I noticed that it had released quite a bit of moisture, so I loaded it into the dehydrator for a few hours to dry off.

Over the next several weeks I repeated this process, watching the garlic get darker all the time. After one month it was starting to get a little dark:

On November 1, since Brad had released his followup episode, I decided to do a quick check to see where my garlic was:

While it had gotten rather dark, the flavor was still more or less just plain old garlic, and the texture was still entirely too firm. So, because the black garlic process is primarily a Maillard reaction, I decided to raise the temperature to 132F, and then left it alone for the next two weeks.

And then on November 13, I checked it again:

I think at this point it’s done! The garlic spreads like butter, and I tried it on a cracker. It tastes absolutely amazing. The flavor is somewhat like black vinegar, with a very intense umami flavor to it. I’m not sure what to do with it just yet (I guess I should re-watch the episode about what to do with it).

Anyway, I’ve divided them up into bags and put them in the freezer for now. Hopefully it’ll keep as well as things online say.

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