Balsajo Black Garlic 

Black garlic is a new line for ESC and the on-trend ingredient for many chefs and caterers. Ours is the best quality on the market, made by Balsajo here in the UK. How to use it? We spoke to Balsajo's founder Katy Heath to get the low down ...


"It's like a flavour explosion in the mouth," explains Katy - who sometimes eats the bulbs whole as a snack. "It has so many layer, textures and flavours. It works as a flavour enhancer but also an ingredient in its own right." 

Black Garlic adds a rich depth of flavour and umami, the sixth taste, to a wide range of dishes. It is subtle but powerful. Used judiciously it does not overpower a dish. "You can use it in so many things that the problem is where to focus," says Katy. 

Top chefs such as Yotam Ottolenghi, Pascal Aussignac, Steve Drake and Anna Hansen have been experimenting with black garlic - see cooking suggestions below. 

A brilliant recent article by Great British Chefs puts the appeal of Black Garlic like this: "The wonderful balance of sweet and savoury yields notes of molasses, chocolate and dried fruit, coupled with tangy hints of balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and tamarind. ... Although it has flavourful garlic undertones, it cannot really be compared to using raw, white garlic – the effect it has on food is so different. Importantly, it leaves none of the pungent odour of traditional garlic – the compound that creates this smell is completely absent from aged Black Garlic."

Suggestions for using black garlic in the kitchen:

- Mash the cloves and add to dressings, sauces and marinades. 

- Add depth of flavour to sauces such as bolognese or ragus. 

- Mix with soy sauce and chilli for a stir fry dressing. 

- Try a wild mushroom and black garlic risotto.  

- Cookery writer Lindsey Bareham recommends adding sliced black garlic to scrambled eggs. 

- Try adding to a normal vinaigrette - a "real winner" says Katy. 

- Whizz into a black garlic allioli. 

- Pair with cheese or spread on toast for cheese on toast.  

- Mix with yoghurt as a dressing for roasted aubergine, says Ottolenghi. 

For a bit of background on the product, black garlic first arrived in the UK in around 2008, but in tiny quantities. Back then, awareness was extremely low and it was marketed mainly as a health product.

Katy and the Balsajo team have refined the 3-week technique for producing the garlic, so that it is more sweet. "It's quite a complicated process - not easy by any means. It needs a lot of loving care," she explains. Only heat and humidity is used to transform the raw garlic. 

Shelf life for the product is extremely long. Store in a cool, dry spot.