How to make black garlic

A Korean specialty in your kitchen

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If you can't find black garlic in your local supermarket — or just aren't a fan of the seemingly hefty price tag — you can make your own at home with ease.

Black garlic is slowly becoming well known for its health benefits. The fermenting process produces a compound that may decrease the risk of cancer and protect against infections. It also has double the antioxidant power of raw garlic, leading to extra prevention against disease.

While it may sound and look a bit unappealing to some, it's got a milder, smoky flavor that many people find more appealing. As an added bonus, it doesn't have the same effect on your breath as its raw compadre.

It's not difficult to make, but it does require a bit of specialized know-how and one special tool. It's a bit of work the first couple of days, but it's well worth it, as black garlic can be difficult to find at many grocery stores.

Find your cooker

The thing about making black garlic is... it requires low and slow temps. It needs a cooker that can stay within 130 and 150 degrees F. If your oven doesn't go that low, you'll need an alternative. In fact, we recommend one either way. The first few days, the garlic aroma can be rather intense, so you may not want it in your house. Additionally, it takes two or more weeks, so you won't want your oven out of commission that long.

You'll be looking for a cooker that can go low enough and doesn't have an automatic shutoff. We recommend a rice cooker with a warm setting and a steamer tray.

Choosing the right garlic

Choose fresh, unblemished heads of garlic. Any flavors of the garlic, including rotten spots, will be intensified when you're fermenting it. The better your raw garlic, the better your blackened garlic. If you're going to spend this much time making it, spend a little extra if necessary to get the best garlic you can.

How to cook black garlic

Put the garlic upright in the steamer tray and place it in the bottom of the rice cooker. You can place 15 or 20 bulbs (leave the skin intact!) in a 10-cup cooker.

Drizzle a bit of beer over the garlic to add a bit of moisture (and flavor). Close the lid and decide where to put it. We recommend leaving it outside if possible, as the smell can be a bit strong. Plug in the rice cooker and turn it to the warm setting. Then leave it alone for at least 14 days! You can leave it as long as 40 days for a more intensely smoky flavor.

When you're done cooking your garlic, place them on a tray and let them dry for another two weeks in a cool, dark place. If that place is outdoors, make sure it's covered. Put it in a plastic baggie and store in the refrigerator. To eat, peel it one bulb at a time.

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Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix the Fish. You can follow her on Twitter @HireHeather.