Friday, August 19, 2011

How to Make Black Garlic - Asberry Acres Permaculture Forest Farm

The Process
The process is very simple, but does require diligence in keeping the temperature in the proper range (and patience waiting to get at those tasty treats!)
  1. Find a cooker that can cook at the (low) temperatures of between 130°-150° F. Make sure that it doesn't have an automatic shut-off timer. This was actually the most difficult step in the process... most cookers, even on the 'low' setting are at 180°-200° F. I found a small fryer that had a low temp of 180° F but had a bit of dial play between 'on' and 180°.
  2. Buy enough garlic that will just fit the container you put in the cooker. Make sure there is a bit of room between the container and the cooker.
  3. Do not  remove the 'skin'.
  4. Put the garlic and an oven thermometer in the container and wrap the container in aluminum foil. Make sure the thermometer head is visible. My cooker had a glass lid which made it very easy read the temperature without letting any heat out since I didn't have to take the lid off.
  5. Put the container in the cooker and turn the cooker on! Estimate where 130° F is on the cooker.
  6. Wait 40 days.
Lessons Learned
Since the temperature changes slowly (Newton's Law of Heating), keep a close eye on the temperature the first day or two. Be careful not to let it get too hot. If it gets too hot or cold, adjust the cooker in very small increments and remember that it takes several hours for the adjustment to be reflected in the temperature. When it got too hot for me, I took the container out of the cooker to let it cool for a couple minutes which helped the temperature adjust much more quickly - about an hour or so.

I would also recommend that the fermenting be done outside of the house. I put the cooker in the mud/laundry room. The garlic smell the first week or two can be intense. Needless to say, the vampires stayed at least a mile away from our house!

The cooker had absolutely no insulation. The next batch I think I'll put the cooker(s) in a box which I'll heavily insulate.

I'll also run electricity out to the shed and build a shelf for the new setup. Makes room and eliminates the smell from the house.

P.S. Here's how my first batch turned out!