Ajo negro has been experiencing an increased profile in the upper echelons of Spanish cuisine in recent years.
Black garlic is a 100% natural product created by a form of controlled aging. It originated in Asia and is now becoming a favourite of chefs throughout Europe and the USA. It is made by keeping bulbs of garlic at a constant temperature and humidity for three to five weeks, during which time the garlic undergoes a kind of fermentation process or, more correctly, a form of caramelization caused by the Maillard reaction.
The resulting product has a soft date-like texture with a sweet and sour or umami flavour, the garlic taste taking a back-seat with hints of balsamic and molasses. It’s also very healthy and packed with antioxidants.
Of course, the black garlic that comes out is only as good as the fresh garlic that goes in and that from La Mancha is ideal. It can be used in virtually any recipe where you would use white garlic, although its texture means you can leave it whole or gently squash it. It also makes an amazing alioli.