Every year new ‘superfoods’ appear in the press and on the supermarket and health food store shelves. We’ve had the Acai berry, chia seeds, goji berries, and now there is black garlic – so what’s so special about it and does it deserve to be classed as a ‘superfood’?
What is it?
‘Black Garlic is produced by ageing a standard garlic bulb through a carefully controlled heating and moisture process for several weeks (fermenting process). The sugars and amino acids react together producing melanoidin – which is responsible for the rich black colour.’
It tastes sweeter than standard white garlic and doesn’t have the eye-watering smell and taste that has people avoiding getting too close after a garlicky meal!
What does it do?
White garlic is known for its anti-microbial, antibiotic and anti-fungal properties which come from the active ingredient allicin. Black garlic has these same properties, however it contains S-Allylcysteine which assists with the absorption of allicin – This is due to allicin being fat-soluble whereas S-Allylcysteine is water soluble, making it easier to digest black garlic by assisting absorption and enabling it to metabolise more easily to gain the natural occurring benefits which could offer an enhanced protection against infections.
S-allylcysteine has also been studied for its cancer preventive and cholesterol lowering properties. This could also be due to the high antioxidant levels found in black garlic (resulting from the fermentation process), believed to be double what is found in white garlic.
These antioxidants protect oxygen-metabolising cells against the damaging effects of superoxide free-radicals – this activity is believed to be 13 times higher in the black garlic than in standard garlic.
Black garlic is also believed to have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system, it does this through an inhibitory effect on the angiotensin converting enzyme which will block the production of Angiotensin II (a hormone that’s main role is to constrict blood vessels, which is a problem for those with cardiovascular disease) . Black garlic has been shown to have a greater effect than standard white garlic.
Keen to try it out but not sure how – try this delicious looking recipe:
Black Garlic Tricolore Salad
Serves 4 as a starter
8 ripe plum tomatoes at room temperature – if you prefer use cherry or vine tomatoes instead.
A handful of freshly washed and dried basil leaves.
400g mozzarella, the best you can find or afford – buffalo or fior di latte
8 cloves of black garlic, peeled and sliced.
For the Salad Dressing
2 small shallots, finely chopped
8 small cloves of peeled black garlic, crushed
2 tbsp balsamic or sherry vinegar
2 tbsp water
salt and pepper
100 ml olive oil
57 ml groundnut or rice bran or grapeseed oil
To make the Salad Dressing
Using a blender or small processor, puree together the first 4 ingredients.
Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and slowly whisk in the oils, creating an emulsion. This can be done by hand if you prefer.
Keep in a jar, refrigerated and shake well to mix before using.
To make the Tricolore Salad
Wash, dry and cut the tomatoes
Slice the mozzarella
Arrange attractively on a plate or platter and drizzle with Black Garlic Salad Dressing.
For this recipe and more, check out: http://www.blackgarlic.co.uk/
(this site will also tell you where you can find black garlic)