This Black Garlic Tastes Sweet and Won’t Give You Bad Breath, Scientists Say


Would you be willing to eat pitch-black garlic cloves in exchange for no stinky breath? Researchers in Australia are studying and hoping to popularize a unique, specially aged variant of the cooking herb. The blackened variant apparently has a sweet flavor, while still having the potential health benefits associated with raw garlic.

The exact origins of black garlic are unclear, but it’s purportedly been eaten regularly in parts of South Korea, Japan, and Thailand for centuries. In more recent years, the variant has started to garner attention as a high-end culinary curiosity. And now scientists at The University of Queensland in Australia are looking to help black garlic become mainstream in a way that white garlic never could.

“Everyone already knows how healthy garlic is, but white garlic’s pungent taste and strong smell can be off-putting for many,” said Susanne Schmidt, a professor at Queensland’s School of Agriculture and Food Sustainability, in a statement from the university.

Schmidt and her colleagues are studying black garlic as part of a collaboration with the group Empathy Herbal, via the university’s Agri-Food Innovation Alliance Kickstarter Grant program. Among other things, they’re planning to better understand the ins-and-outs of the charred-looking herb.

Black garlic is created by aging fresh white garlic for some time under controlled high temperatures (140 to 194 degrees Fahrenheit) and high relative humidity (80–90%). This turns the garlic black via a process known as a Maillard reaction, which also helps explain the taste and browning of many other well-loved foods, from roast pork to french fries. With garlic, the process reduces levels of allicin, the compound primarily responsible for the herb’s distinctive odor. The resulting concoction is said to be sticky and sweet, while being plenty healthy to eat. Some studies have linked black garlic to numerous health benefits, Schmidt notes, from improving the gut microbiome to helping keep our blood sugar in check.

The team is hoping to quantify the exact plant-based chemicals, or phytochemicals, in black garlic that might explain these benefits. And they’ll be trying to figure out the methods needed to create the healthiest version of it. “We’re analyzing black garlic that has undergone various modes of processing to identify the ones with maximal beneficial bioactives,” Schmidt said.

The researchers also hope that their work can make black garlic more popular with farmers to reduce food waste, since they might be able to use white garlic that otherwise would have been thrown out.

“Black garlic is a win-win for foodies, health enthusiasts, farmers and the environment,” said Schmidt.



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