Black Garlic: Healthy & Delicious

Like most fermented foods, aged black garlic is much higher in certain antioxidants than its raw counterpart. It’s one of the most studied foods, in recent years, due to its ability to lower cholesterol, and guard against a wide range of inflammatory diseases, including cancers of various kinds, and complications of diabetes. Studies also suggest a neuroprotective role, and a mechanism for blocking kidney damage. Historically, it was developed in Korea and used to treat a wide range of ailments, including arthritis.

How does it rate for fighting fungal and bacterial infection? According to this article, black garlic may actually aid in absorption of allicin, the antimicrobial compound found in both black garlic and crushed raw garlic, via  a compound called S-allylcysteine. Fellow health-nerds can read about the incredible details here. Given that synergy between S-allylcysteine and allicin, i often take black and raw combined for anti-candida potency. i have SIBO, and eating a bulb a day doesn’t cause me any GI distress, in fact, I think it’s helping heal my gut.

For people who love the health effects of garlic but don’t like the odor on their breath, you’re in luck, because no matter how much black garlic you eat, your breath will not be affected.

Purchasing black garlic online is extremely expensive, while making your own is very affordable. It takes about two weeks to slow-roast in a rice cooker on the lowest “keep warm” setting. My Sanyo model ECJ-D100S stays like that until turned off. Continuous operation is important. Here’s a long thread devoted to that very feature. It seems the Aroma ARC-2000A will do this, as will the West Bend 84905 Slow Cooker, and both are affordable. So is this Proctor Silex. For higher budgets there’s the Instant Pot DUO60. Even though it’s a low temperature, be safe and check yours regularly during the extended cooking time.

So let’s repeat the entire recipe: put your raw garlic into the cooker, close the lid, and two weeks later it’s ready. Amazing to think you can buy a brand new rice cooker for the price of 1.5 lbs of store-bought black garlic, and make your own for mere pennies of electricity per batch. I use a recipe I found posted to a forum, as a Korean grandmother’s method.

The only modifications I made were putting the finished batch into a colander on my kitchen counter, rather than hanging it in a cloth bag for a week before use, and I’ve added four days to the aging period, for a total of two weeks. I find it’s ready to eat right away, without drying. The process is more of an aging than fermentation, but the results are the same, in terms of unlocking so many nutrients and making them bioavailable. It’s caramelized. Yum.

Note the clear difference in color between the black and raw garlic.

Note the Color Difference Between Black and Raw Garlic

How does it taste? It’s a wonderful combination of sweet and savory, like a deep, dried cherry or tamarind flavor, and each clove pops out of its skin easily, soft and squishy, so peeling is never a problem. When I give it to my friends who come over to the house, it’s not uncommon to see them devouring 1/2 a bulb at a time. I’ve done it myself, and especially for medicinal reasons, I’ve even eaten entire bulbs at once. The effect can be very energizing, and you can see from the studies linked above, it has a wide range of health benefits.

Those who have trouble with raw garlic may be pleasantly surprised, as I was, at how easily black garlic can be digested, but if you have IBS or IBD, the best approach is to go slow, as you would with any new food, and see how you do. Often times ramping up portions of new foods, over time, can create a tolerance, whereas doing too much too soon can create problems.

Those of you who are omnivores, try some on a rib eye steak, or a pork roast. Put it on after your meats are done, as it doesn’t require cooking. Everyone, whether they are paleo or vegetarian, can enjoy it in stir fries and added to mashed potatoes or rice dishes. Another great feature of this superfood is that it keeps for months, right out in the open — no need to refrigerate or store in a dark place.

Have you tried black garlic already? Please share your medicinal uses, aging tips, and favorite cookers with us in the comments section. Also, many thanks to everyone at the crossroads for cultured foods and beverages: Wild Fermentation, on Facebook, for their amazing help in sourcing the perfect black garlic maker. Updates to follow, such as this new recipe.  🙂

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Hookworm working, feeling great!

Today I’m 10 1/2 weeks into a 75 hookworm dose. As far as I know, I had no worms remaining when I did that top off, because stool tests for ova were negative at the time, but I have had blood work done recently suggesting the new dose is alive and well. My EOS level is quite high, which is consistent with a parasitic infection.

I should add that for nearly everyone providers won’t allow a dose of 75 at once, but in my case I’ve demonstrated a very high tolerance, and have some health issues that make hosting for longer periods difficult, so my provider was willing to make a rare exception.

How am I feeling? Fantastic. Today Spring has sprung, the air is so loaded with pollen you can see it blowing in the wind. This year I can smell all sorts of flowers and other plants in the breeze, which is a nice change of pace. In previous allergy seasons when I was not hosting hookworm I was stuck inside, huddled in a dark room next to an air purifier, and shoveling down vitamin C, the only antihistamine I could tolerate. So the scent of Spring is a wonderful, new thing.

It’s a joy to have no asthma, no sinus trouble, and my mood is also really balanced. I have more energy, no more insomnia, my skin is clearing up (less rosacea), constipation (one of many side effects of levaquin) is gone, and I’m starting to gain some healthy weight: 6 ft tall, and 160 lbs. After being underweight for the last 10 years, this is a major milestone. I now weigh what I did before I got sick with ulcerative colitis. On the IBD front, I have not had a flare in a year or more, and the last one was brief, and quite mild.

Besides the hookworm protocol, I am drinking home-brewed kefir daily, and eating raw, organic sauerkraut a few days a week. I have adopted a lower-fat “mediterranean paleo” diet, designed to keep my lipid profile optimized. This seems to be encouraging good gut flora diversity, too.

Apologies for not updating this blog sooner. I’ve been busy working, holding down more than one job, and at times working 12 days straight. Anyone who has followed my blog from the start knows how incredible this is. I feel “normal” again, but in some ways I feel better than I have in about 15 years. Seriously!