Is black garlic the next “superfood”?
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. Lately, all the buzz is surrounding something rather delicious: black garlic.
While black garlic has long been used for culinary and medicinal purposes in Asian countries for centuries, it’s a novel concept here in Australia. But it’s fast gaining ground. Producers include Garlicious Grown in NSW, Tasmanian Gourmet Garlic, and The Garlic Company and Snowy River Black Garlic in Victoria. You’ll also find it on restaurant menus everywhere.
Husband and wife Jim and Lynn Gillen founded Koala Black Garlic in 2018, at their property in Glencoe, NSW. The pair produce a range of black garlic products – from black garlic bulbs and cloves to salts and powders. There are also new products in the works, such as black garlic honey and chocolate. The chocolate is an individual truffle with a bulb of black garlic in the centre. According to taste-testers, both products are “delicious”.
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. It also loses its usual overpowering raw garlic taste… and resulting garlic breath.
The food is fast becoming more widely recognised in foodie circles as a “trendy” ingredient. It 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. It’s even been added to energy drinks and juices, while 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,” says Koala Black Garlic’s General Manager Lynn. “It sounded intriguing to us as we hadn’t heard about it before. We did our research and found out about the added health benefits and the beautiful taste, so we decided to produce it.”
Right on trend
Lynn and Jim process their organically-grown raw garlic using a hot-burning rocket stove. They use ecologically sustainable wood pellets used for fuel.
“We developed this process to keep the pollution from the fires to a minimum,” Lynn explains. “We also use solar energy when we can to run the other aspects of processing. Now we’re able to produce large amounts of both sweet and savoury black garlic bulbs. These have been welcomed by the natural health community and gourmet foodies alike.”
Garlic is a prebiotic, which can feed the existing good bacteria present in the gut.
“Supporting immunity through gut health is gaining traction,” says Adriana Heinzen, Trend and Innovation Consultant from global market research group Mintel. “There is increasing awareness about how the gut microbiota and the immune system work in a mutual relationship and constantly shape each other.”
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 at first,” she says. “However, we now have great penetration in our local area, due to our efforts at markets and through the support of local retailers. Once people taste our black garlic, they love the flavour. We currently sell through our website, but are eager to bring on more distributors as we grow.”
You can find out more about Koala Black Garlic at gillensgarlic.com