Bon Appetit Wednesday! The Mysterious Origin of Black Garlic

black garlicToday’s recipe is for a Black Garlic Bruschetta. It is a fairly simple recipe, but its star ingredient is anything but. This week’s Bon Appetit Wednesday is bringing you not only a delicious dish, but an intriguing mystery as well.

Several years ago, around 2008, black garlic, a strange little food with an unusual color and consistency but incredible flavor, experienced a moment in the sun. Suddenly, it was in all of the finest restaurants in the world and chefs were clamoring to make the next best black garlic dish. But where did it come from? The two main origin stories—one ancient, one modern–couldn’t have been more different. We’re going to present you with these two tales and let you decide which seems more credible.

#1: A British farmer named Mark Botwright is wondering how to preserve the 900,000 bulbs of garlic he grew to ensure that they could be eaten all year long. Suddenly, he happens upon a 4,000-year-old Korean recipe for black garlic. It entails exposing the bulbs to “heat and moisture for more than a month.”[1] He applies the method to his bulbs and “Voila!”, he discovers black garlic and is at once enchanted with its smooth, sweet flavor. He goes on to perfect his process and guards his secret closely, not even revealing the original ancient source of his discovery.

#2: In 2004, Korean inventor Scott Kim, creates and patents a machine to make black garlic. His “machine houses the bulbs for three weeks, during which time the regulated heat and humidity bring out natural sugars and turn the cloves black. Bulbs spend another week on a cooling rack before packaging.”[2] By 2008, his company Black Garlic Inc. was mass-producing and selling the bulbs. As the tiny black newly-dubbed “super food” was making its way around the world, theories about its origin were also making the rounds. Kim stuck to his original claim saying, “No matter what you’ve heard, black garlic isn’t an ancient food from Korea…I created it and have three patents for my proprietary process.”[3]

So now you’ve heard the two main theories, but here’s where it gets even more interesting. There are other lesser-known stories that claim it originated hundreds of years ago in Japan.[4] Still another story has been put out by a Toronto-based Korean family who say they’ve been fermenting black garlic in clay pots for over one hundred years.[5] While no one has been able to uncover the truth—or if they have, they are unwilling to reveal it—the fact that it is absolutely delicious is no secret. It is sweet and mellower than regular garlic, with a caramel-like flavor reminiscent of balsamic vinegar. The cloves are so soft they can be spread with a butter knife.

You’ll probably have to buy your black garlic online (a quick search offers numerous options), but it is well worth it. Perhaps rather than trying to solve the mystery of black garlic’s origins, we should all be engaged in the hunt for new and more inventive ways to use this healthy and palate-pleasing ingredient.


Black Garlic Bruschetta


  • 1 Tomato, diced
  • 1 Red onion, diced
  • 3-4 Cloves of black garlic, diced
  • Olive oil
  • Basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Baguette, sliced


  1. Mix the tomato, red onion, three of the garlic cloves, and a bit of olive oil together in a bowl.
  2. Toast the baguette slices.
  3. Spread the diced fourth clove on the baguette slices.
  4. Put the tomato mix on the slices and drizzle with olive oil.



[1] Ancient ‘black garlic’ recipe found by farmer. (n.d.). Retrieved January 3, 2016, from

[2] Digging up the dirt on black garlic – (2012, February 9). Retrieved January 3, 2016, from

[3] Ibid.

[4] Aged Black Garlic: A new superfood? – Steamy Kitchen Recipes. (2009, March 23). Retrieved January 3, 2016, from

[5] Digging up the dirt on black garlic.

2 responses to “Bon Appetit Wednesday! The Mysterious Origin of Black Garlic

  1. Pingback: Bon Appetit Wednesday! National Garlic Month | AntiquityNOW

  2. Pingback: Bon Appetit Wednesday! Strange Recipes With a Past | AntiquityNOW

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