Is black garlic the next “superfood”?

10th May 2021 | Joanne Ma

Since COVID hit, interest in “superfoods” and a demand for innovative products in the natural health space has never been stronger. Many consumers are also now more willing to try new foods as they seek out products that may offer them potential health benefits.

This year’s hottest superfood products will be on show at B2B event the 2021 Naturally Good Expo, held from May 30 and 31 at Sydney’s International Convention Centre. On exhibit to distributors and retailers will be diverse products such as the Edible Bug Shop’s cricket corn chips, the Camel Milk Company’s camel milk powder and Wild Noni’s noni fruit juice – all of which are said to have health benefits thanks to their hero ingredients.

One exhibitor – Koala Black Garlic – will be at Naturally Good for the first time, showcasing their range of products that include black garlic bulbs, salt and powder.

Founded in 2018 by husband and wife Jim and Lynn Gillen, who moved to the NSW Northern Tablelands to farm the garlic, the brand is soon to release two new products – Black Garlic Honey and Chocolate Black Garlic. The chocolate is an individual truffle with a bulb of black garlic in the centre. Early taste-testers say that both products are “delicious”.

Black garlic aioli adds a sweet yet earthy garlic flavour to grilled vegies, meats and fish,

What is black garlic?

Black garlic is simply regular raw garlic that’s been cooked and then cured for a month. Although black garlic products are still relatively new on the Australian market, Korean recipes using the ingredient date back around 4000 years. Through the cooking and curing process, the garlic becomes sweet – it tastes like molasses and balsamic vinegar with citrus notes – and loses its usual overpowering raw garlic taste… and resulting garlic breath.

Black garlic is fast becoming more widely recognised in foodie circles as a “trendy” ingredient, and can be used with meats, vegetables, eggs, stews and soups. Chefs are also getting creative with it – using the bulbs to make black garlic ice cream and cakes.

Health-wise, black garlic is rich in amino acids and has almost double the amount of antioxidants compared to white garlic. The anti-inflammatory effects of raw garlic are also present in black garlic. It’s even been added to energy drinks and juices, and in countries such as Thailand it’s claimed to increase life expectancy.

“We were encouraged by an acquaintance who’d worked at the Sydney Markets to consider producing black garlic, which sounded intriguing to us as we hadn’t heard about it before,” says Koala Black Garlic’s General Manager Lynn. “We did our research and found out about the added health benefits and the beautiful taste, so we decided to produce it.”

Lynn and Jim Gillen keep the environment in mind when processing their products.

Right on trend

Lynn and Jim process their organically-grown raw garlic using a hot-burning rocket stove, with ecologically sustainable wood pellets used for fuel.

“We developed this process to keep the pollution from the fires to a minimum, and also use solar energy when we can to run the other aspects of processing,” Lynn explains. “We’re now able to produce large amounts of both sweet and savoury black garlic bulbs, which have been welcomed by the natural health community and gourmet foodies alike.”

Adriana Heinzen Trend and Innovation Consultant from global market research group Mintel, will be speaking on the topic of various new food products’ health benefits in the highly anticipated “food and drink trends” topic at Naturally Good this year.

“Garlic is a good prebiotic which can help feed the existing good bacteria present in the gut,” she says. “Supporting immunity through gut health is gaining traction, so we expect more innovation with products containing fibre, fermented foods and pre-, pro- and postbiotics [probiotic waste products with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits].

“There is increasing awareness about how the gut microbiota and the immune system work in a mutual relationship and constantly shape each other.”

You can use black garlic powder to add a rich umami flavour to your meals.

Clove is all you need

Lynn believes the black garlic market will grow as Australians learn more about the product.

“Unfortunately, the upheaval of COVID–19 made it difficult for us to introduce more people to our product,” she says. “However, we now have great penetration in our local area, due to our efforts in 2019 at markets and the support of local retailers.”

It was important for Lynn and Jim to introduce the taste of their product to potential customers and retail buyers in a safe and hygienic way. So they introduced COVID-safe packaging, which presents individual cloves in sealed packs, ready for sampling.

“We pack these wearing gloves and masks to ensure the cloves aren’t contaminated,” Lynn says. “Once people taste the bulb, they love the flavour, so we’ll continue to showcase samples in this way. We currently sell through our website, but are eager to bring on more distributors over the coming year, especially once our new products launch.”

You can find out more about Koala Black Garlic at gillensgarlic.com

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