Step 4: Starting the Garlic

The hard part is over and now it is time to begin fermenting garlic, this process requires patience, because it will take 40 days.  After a few trial runs, which can be found on my blog, I found that the best vessel to put the garlic in was an aluminum baking pan.

Start with 2.5# of fresh cloves of garlic, place them in an even layer in the baking pan, cover with plastic wrap (make sure to wrap the baking pan all the way around to ensure a nice tight seal), then a layer of aluminum foil.  The purpose of the plastic is to keep the humidity in, the foil helps keep the heat even.  Set your thermostat to 140 degrees, close the door, and hurry up and wait.  I found that after the garlic has started it requires very little attention, the room that the box is in will smell of fresh garlic and will gradually change to a nice roasted garlic smell.  My first batch of garlic was started in my living room, after 40 days my clothes smelled of roasted garlic, not necessarily bad but I eventually moved the box to my garage.

After 40 days open your pan of garlic and take in the glory, you should be able to gently peel back the paper like skin protecting the clove and visibly see a color change.  If it looks black then you are headed in the right direction, next grab a clove and squeeze it between your fingers, it should turn into a paste.  If it does not and it still feels firm then you have not achieved a finished product.  This usually happens when the heat is uneven, wrap the pan again with plastic and foil and continue to ferment for an additional ten days.  I found that having the pan sitting on some wire racks so it was elevated to allow the air and heat to circulate, I was able to make the product in 30-35 days.

The next step is the drying process which can take three days to a week.
Hi, I have been following your DIY blog since April and I thank you for publishing your process. My wife pointed out that there might be a health risk when using plastic wrap as the shell for the fermentation process. Do you think that moisture dripping down from the plastic wrap in a box heated to 140 degrees will pose a cancer risk? Perhaps it would be better/safer to use glass containers instead? Best Regards!
Thank you for the comment, I have looked into the plastic issue and commercial plastic wrap has a different makeup than the plastic wrap you would get at the grocery store. I am currently looking into an alternative and actually adding a humidifier or a mister to the box so I do not need to wrap it. I will be starting that project after I finish my meat curing cabinet.
All of my research from the past 7 months has led me to the now obvious conclusion that what is needed to make aged black garlic is a typical baker's fermentation cabinet. In German we call this a "Gärschrank" and this machine allows operators to individually adjust temperature and humidity. For the life of me I cannot understand why anyone would want to patent a new machine and process for making black garlic when millions of existing bread machines can already do it. Hats off to you though, for making your own and publishing your results!!
Can you tell me a little info on the bakers cabinet?
<p>There is a german wikipedia page about it <a href="https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%A4rschrank" rel="nofollow">here</a>. If you cannot read German and your browser doesn't offer to translate the page for you, try entering that wikipedia URL at http://translate.google.com.</p>
<p>These bakers cabinets cost a fortune.!</p>
Never new that these machines existed! Thanks for the info, I will look into getting one or figuring out how to make my own. I am certainly not trying to re-invent the wheel here, I am just cheap, my box uses very little electricity and is very efficient at what it does, and in all of my research on black garlic no machine ever came up. I think the guy who is monopolizing on black garlic did patent his machine or the process, not sure though.
For sure, those &quot;<a href="http://www.google.de/search?q=G%C3%A4rschrank&hl=de&safe=off&prmd=imvns&source=lnms&tbm=isch&ei=WcKqT62KC87ltQbo7_GYBQ&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&cd=2&ved=0CHEQ_AUoAQ&biw=1152&bih=779" rel="nofollow">G&auml;rschr&auml;nke</a>&quot; (&lt;-- link to google pics) cost a lot of money new so it is probably worthwhile to DIY if not trying to sell the stuff commercially.<br> <br> A group of Koreans named Duck, Han and Sung filed a patent for a machine in 2010 which you can see online <a href="http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2011/0129580.html" rel="nofollow">here</a>. Also check out the pdf file linked on that same page, which includes a sketch of a fermentation machine which I believe to be the machine shown <a href="http://www.hiwtc.com/products/fermented-black-garlic-machine-2561-10906.htm" rel="nofollow">here</a>.<br> <br> FWIW I did not know much about the fermentation process before getting interested in black garlic and I'm no pro baker but now I believe that someone is trying to trick us into thinking that there is some magical, secret process to making this stuff when in reality it is as simple as baking cupcakes for 3 weeks.
Wow! great set of info here, the wording is strange but I am working on deciphering what they are saying, and yes it is an easy process, they just put blinders up for everyone to think it was magical.
It sounds like a native korean patent lawyer specializing in technical devices wrote that application, doesn't it? The patent describes &quot;sealing the garlic in a vinyl pack&quot; ... I wonder how healthy that is ;-)
I am in the process of breaking down the study, but it makes me frustrated trying to put the words together, lol. The bags are an interesting thing, I have a vacuum chamber at work I could seal garlic in and try it. The vacuum bags are a reliable tool, as they can also be used for &quot;Sous Vide&quot; cooking, which means they can handle temperatures up to 250 degrees. They are also PVC free so there is no risk of any health risks that I know of. The only concern I have is the garlic not being able to breath, the vinyl may allow this to happen at a slower rate, therefore it will hold the humidity in. I also do not know the botulism flourish in anaerobic environments, so the whole sealing in a bag thing scares me.
Hey, <br>Just cut a piece of glass to size over your fermentation tray. OR put a bowl of water on your element.
Great idea! I have started another project and will give it a try as soon as I am done.
Glass is always the safest way to go. Always stay away from plastics. They do cause cancer. I wish these companies would start making things that are safer for humans.
On the glass baking dish, I started my experiments with glass mason jars and I did not get a final product that I was happy with. &nbsp;Another technique that I will try is with parchment paper. &nbsp;I use that a lot when braising foods followed by foil and that will help keep moisture in.
What do you think about using some kind of <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pyroflam-Glass-Rectangular-Roaster-40x27cm/dp/B000TARBDU" rel="nofollow">pyrex dish</a> with a lid made of the same material?
I used mason jars previously, and i did not get the results that I was looking for.
What kind of results did you get with the mason jars exactly?
Well for starters I stacked the garlic in the jars, which led to uneven heating, I also did not have the garlic on the middle shelf of my box which seemed to be a better spot to ferment at. I am willing to try the mason jars again, sitting on the middle shelf, and wrapped in foil. The only other reason that I went away from the jars was so I could produce a larger quantity.
I dig that. If you're going to be turning on the heat for so many days you ought to maximize your ROI !!<br> <br> <a href="http://blogs.westword.com/cafesociety/2012/04/photos_row_14_chef_jensen_cumm.php" rel="nofollow">Here is a recent blog</a>&nbsp;about a cook who claims he makes his black garlic in a consumer-grade dehydrator. What do you think about that (nonsense)? A dehydrator normally sucks the moisture out of food but does not ferment it. But maybe this person has a special trick?<br> <br> After reading that blog I thought about using a dehydrator too but to get the required humidity for fermentation I would have to place moist garlic bulbs in mason jars or plastic-wrapped baking pans like you did in previous experiments.<br> <br> But to do that I would need a larger dehydrator, such as the Excalibur or the new Sedona from Tribest.<br> <br> <br>
With the amount of garlic that is being used (a full dehydrators worth), it might create enough humidity to prevent it from getting too dry. plastic or a trash bag around the outside wouldn't be a bad idea to keep the humidity in, and after reading the previous study that you linked there are certain levels of humidity that they obtain for different periods of time. My process keeps a high humidity the whole 40 days, then I dehydrate. The study shows dehydration in steps while the fermentation is occurring over the 40 days. <br> <br>I also think the wrapping the baking pan with foil first then with plastic might reduce any concerns that arise from using plastic, I just know that you wouldn't want to use plastic that contains PVC, which I think is excluded from most commercial plastic wraps.
Hey, thanks for the info and tips! Now I have to decide which dehydrator to get. My wife likes the Sedona. Have you seen it yet? I think for all practical purposes a dehydrator which can also ferment garlic in &quot;sealed&quot; containers is the way for us. A used &quot;G&Atilde;&curren;rschrank&quot; costs at least twice as much and would take up much more space as well. <br> <br>I'll let you know how my first batch comes out, at least 40 days from now !!
Have not looked into dehydrators recently, I always drooled over excalibur, but mostly because it was the most reputable and expensive brand. I look forward to hearing about your progress and final product!
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Thank you for all your info, i am interested in this site, do they have an english one?
<p>Hi<br>I adapted a machine to make black garlic I have been successful except for some attempts in which the garlic gets very hard like a rock. The garlic stays at a temperature of 70&ordm;C and humidity around 80%. Can someone help me?</p>
<p>$100 is to much to pay for a thermostat. Here is an $8 one. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Intelligent-Temperature-Controller-MH1210W-Input-90-250V-Output-10A-220V-Thermostat-with-sensor-Heating-and-cooling/32266188800.html?spm=2114.01010208.3.1.3XDWgM&amp;ws_ab_test=searchweb0_0,searchweb201602_2,searchweb201603_1&amp;btsid=63d4ac3a-6cf3-42c5-91e4-ca1abe3883ac</p>
I'm confused... Are you using microbes to turn the sugars in garlic into alcohol, gases, or acid? OR are you using heat to slowly modify the sugars? Because one is fermentation and the other is a Maillard Reaction and they're completely different.
<p>They call it fermentation but it is really the Maillard reaction. The trick is heat and time but not hot enough to breakdown the antioxidants and it does seem to improve the quality of all the good chemicals.</p>
<p>at 140 degrees for days, this is a breakdown process, not a fermentation</p><p><a href="http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/04/21/sprouted-black-garlic.aspx" rel="nofollow">http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive...</a><br><br>Although the process is consistently described as &ldquo;fermentation,&rdquo; it really isn&rsquo;t that in the strictest sense, as the transformation does not involve microbial processes&mdash;specifically, enzymatic breakdown and the Maillard Reaction are responsible for the caramelization of the sugars, dark color and deep, complex flavor profile.</p>
<p>I make black garlic with this machine, and to easy, i don't care about degrees or time</p>
<p>you can make black garlic in a rice cooker with keep warm function...it takes 9 days not 30 days because it will become crispy black in the rice cooker method...warning though...about the smell...need to place your rice cooker with garlic in a well ventilated place not indoors due to smell of it while its fermenting/caramelizing process...just search youtube for videos on how to make it the rice cooker way.</p>
<p>Many very sensitive food and food ingredient products are packed and processed in Mylar bags. At these temperatures, these bags should be inert (not give off any odors or risky chemicals). This is much better than &quot;Saran Wrap&quot; products which are PVC and always give off nasty vapors when heated.</p>
<p>Thanks for sharing the information, maybe you can explicitly tell that it is 140&deg;F. Because most of the Non-Americans use &deg;C.</p>
<p>I'm sorry about picking your nits, but your pictures show heads of garlic, not individual cloves. I think you should edit this post, changing &quot;clove&quot; to &quot;head&quot;. Without the pictures, one might break all of those heads into individual cloves before fermenting them. I suspect that's not what you had in mind.</p>
Thanks a lot. I will keep it in mind. I will share the result when it is ready.
<p>Hello, I am from Nepal. In Nepal we have electricity supply only 12 hours in a day with breaks in between. Heating the box with 100W bulb in such circumstances, will it be okay if I keep for 80 days instead of 40 days ? Thanks in advance.</p>
Hey there! Sorry for the delay, if the insulation on the fermenting box is good then you shouldn't need to worry about it. I would set the box a degree or two higher than normal and it should hold the average temp that you want.<br>Adam Kapela<br>
<p>Hi, can you tell me what kind of heating elements you used and what wattage.?</p><p>also the purpose of the large lamp.? thanks.</p>
The purpose of the lamp is to heat. Therefore there is no other heating element. I think the wattage is 100w heating lamp.
<p>An electrical safety correction: </p><p>White Wire = Neutral</p><p>Black Wire = Hot (phase)</p>
<p>This proofing/fermentation box is pretty affordable</p><p>http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/3675691</p>
<p>I just loaded up my rice cooker with garlic. I found a recipe that calls for nine days in a rice cooker on the &quot;keep warm&quot; setting followed by a week on a drying rack. I can't wait to see how this works as my wife planted about 7#'s of garlic in the fall. I hope to be up to my eyeballs in black gold soon! I'm concerned that the hole in the top of the rice cooker may allow too much moisture out and that nine days isn't long enough, but there's only one way to find out! </p>
Can't wait to hear about it! You could try plugging the whole with something to help prevent moisture loss. Maybe a little electrical tape to cover the whole? Good Luck and let me know how it works out!<br><br>Adam
<p>Will do Adam. I decided to leave the hole open and see what happens since this is my first time. I've read cautionary tales about too much moisture and not enough moisture... so we'll see! I also decided to put a head of elephant garlic in just for grins. Stay tuned!</p>
<p>I just finished my fermenter...well multi use project box....I got digital tempature controller from eBay for $15, wall outlet, appliance plug, small box from hardware store..wired the controller to one of the outlets so now I can plug a crock pot into it then cut the box so everything fit. Later I can use the same box for incubator, dehydrator, fermenter. I wired the other outlet for constant power so I can use it for a fan. the wiring was the hardest part for me. But it's holding 140F nicely!</p>
<p>so after fermenting for 15 days I gave garlic flavored rocks....bust...a lot of moisture inside the croc pot but still dehydrated very hard garlic..I added a glass of water today to get them to rehydrate maybe...they are black though</p>
<p>yea it sounds like it just got too dry, thats what i experienced my first few attempts. You want the garlic to keep most of its moisture for the first 30 days or so. After you get the nice color from aging aging around 35-40 days then you dry it out for 2-3 days to get the intense color and nice paste like texture. Mason jars did not work well for me but a baking dish with plastic and foil did. Someone else mentioned parchment paper, may work but still very porous.</p>
<p>When I started I put a damp towel on top of them (it was still damp) the lid had tons of water drops on it and wrapped the lid in plastic wrap to keep it sealed...even the sides of the cloves were damp...but inside was a slightly shriveled black cloves that were hard as rocks.</p>
What about using a convection oven even the small toaster convection oven. it Has the fan the heat and the temp gauge?

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