The first question is why? Why spend 40 days cooking garlic slowly? Answer: Why not?
Garlic in all its forms is a staple in our kitchen. Our neighbours Jaz and Dick don’t eat garlic at all. Or onions. It’s a bit embarrassing because our extractor fan belches out onion and garlic fumes across our shared drive every evening. Fortunately they are very tolerant. And very nice. Sometimes – frequently – we hear a rumble in the night and David will mumble “that will be Jaz taking our bin out then”. The problem is, we often forget which day the bin man is due. But Jaz is a stickler for routine. Sometimes we haven’t even filled the bin so we have to trundle it back in the morning, very quietly, to fill it and then deposit it at the end of the drive again. If we remember what day it is, but not what colour bin, we simply peer between the blinds about midnight to see what colour bin is required……. sure enough, Jaz and Dick’s bin is already standing serene and proud at the end of the drive. Sometimes we find sticky notes on the back door, reminding us it’s ‘green bin day’ or ‘brown bin day’. Jaz is a great pudding cook, and often we will find slices of cheesecake or mounds of souffle in the lobby – oh the saturated fat!
I first encountered black garlic when visiting Fran and Jonathan on the Isle of Wight, which is famous for its garlic crop. The largest head of garlic I have grown came from elephant garlic bulbs from there. As big round as a teacup – I swear. The ones in the picture here are a mixture of Early Purple Wight and Iberian Wight, both purchased mail-order from Isle of Wight Garlic Farm and planted in earth enriched with lots of muck in early November and with a top dressing of seaweed. Then just leave it – ready to harvest in June when the tops fall over and start to go rusty. This year I had a bumper crop of 60 bulbs. The best ever.
I digress. Black garlic.
Black garlic is simply a matter of fermenting fresh clean heads of garlic by heating very slowy and leaving on a low heat for about 30 days. Each clove changes character and becomes a black sticky goo, full of molasses-like juice. Wonderful in pasta, baked potatoes, risotto, pies…….. I feel some more posts coming on.
Being a ‘bit’ of a gadget freak (I often think I could do with an extension just for all the kitchen gadgets acquired over the years) – I searched online for special equipment and found a fermenter that was about £120. No way Jose. More research and a handy tip from Eleanor whilst we were wandering round East Ruston Vicarage Gardens a few weeks ago, revealed that the same results can be achieved with a rice cooker or a slow cooker. I possessed neither. Onto Freecycle in a trice, I found a slow cooker for £5. That’s more like it.
So now, my heads of garlic have commenced their first day in the slow cooker. Before they are ready I shall have had 5 days in Le Puget celebrating Anthony’s 60th, followed by a mad scurry of work, prior to heading to Seahouses for a week of walking the bare blustery and beautiful beaches of Northumberland with David, Lynne and Andy, returning for number one grandson’s birthday and a trip to Dinosaur World. My only concession to the garlic will be to remove the slow cooker attached to extension lead to the little shed outside so the house is not filled with garlic fumes on our return. I shall offer a progress report later………………….