“Introducing a simple food with a wonderfully complex flavor. Black garlic is sweet meets savory, a perfect mix of molasses-like richness and tangy garlic undertones. It has a tender, almost jelly-like texture with a melt-in-your-mouth consistency similar to a soft dried fruit. Hard to believe, but true. It’s as delicious as it is unique. Imagine garlic without all of the annoying stuff. Bad breath? Nope. Pungent odor? Nope. Acrid bite? No sir. You know how a great wine gets better with age? That’s what we’re dealing with here. In Taoist mythology, black garlic was rumored to grant immortality. We can’t promise you that, but there’s no doubt that black garlic is great for your health—it’s loaded with nearly twice as many antioxidants as raw garlic. It also contains S-Allycysteine, which is fancy talk for a natural compound that has been proven to be a factor in cancer prevention.”

Thus runs the promotional material on BlackGarlic.com. As mentioned, it is hard to believe. The proverbial vampire repellent without its characteristic stench? Surely not. Retailing online and at Tesco (for UK buyers), and touted not only as an exciting new ingredient but also as an unusual healthy snack, it is supposedly set to take the culinary world by storm.

Testing out the claim that it can be eaten as a snack without making you want to hurl, Keeper and I both dutifully chomped away on a clove of the black stuff. It really is absolutely black, and leaves no stain on your teeth; the soft consistency is also as promised (it’s more like dried fruit, not being at all crunchy). The garlic flavour is evident, but is far more subtle than its better-known white counterpart, and there’s also an overriding flavour that is not dissimilar to balsamic vinegar. The molasses taste mentioned above is also detectable. While certainly pleasant, innovative and edible, I’m not sure I would take up nomming it as a snack as a permanent habit.

Cooking with it, interestingly, does not release a really strong flavour in the same way as white garlic, but rather serves to enhance the flavour of other ingredients to make new and intriguing combinations. I look forward to integrating it as part of the regular arsenal of my cooking ingredients, and seeing it with the white garlic, stem ginger and shallots in my kitchen. Available for purchase ‘as nature made it’ or ready peeled, there should be something about it to suit every buyer, whether they are part of the gastronomic gaggle of cooks wishing to go further than before, or just extreme snackers. Plenty of recipes can be found at BlackGarlic.com and BlackGarlic.co.uk.

And speaking of nature, it’s important to point out (just so you know) that black garlic is NOT a genetically modified food, but produced as part of a fermentation process. The finest white garlic is exposed to heat and humidity for three weeks before being cooled and dried out for one week. It’s hard to believe that such a relatively simple-sounding process (on paper, at least) can make such magic happen in the kitchen.