Black is the new black for two garlic-growing friends from Braidwood, NSW.
Jenny Daniher and Cathy Owen at Garlicious Grown produce value-added black garlic products, which are proving to be a profitable niche market sold across Australia.
They claim black garlic is a superfood with twice the antioxidants of fresh garlic – without the garlic breath.
Friends first, garlic farmers second, the pair complement each other.
Jenny is a fourth generation farmer from a broadacre operation in Ungarie, while Cathy is a passionate home cook.
Both their families farm in the Braidwood area and Garlicious Grown is part of the Braidwood Garlic Growers Co-operative – or BraidGarlic for short.
The co-op has more than 20 members and has grown in recent years with funding support from the National Landcare Program and the federal government’s Farming Together pilot program.
The women were growing purple garlic and realised they could control the temperature and humidity of the growing environment to produce black garlic, which slowly caramelises when aged for 30 days to create a rich garlic with a molasses flavour.
They branched into gourmet products, including peeled Caramelised Black Garlic Cloves and Caramelised Black Garlic Powder.
“Garlicious Grown developed from conversations, thoughts and dreams to diversify and value add to our farming lives,” they said.
The black garlic cloves and powder have won a host of awards and have celebrity chef endorsements from the likes of Christine Mansfield.
The products won a gold medal at the 2017 Sydney Royal Fine Food awards and the 2016 Australian Food Awards, and were a silver medal winner at 2015 Sydney Royal Fine Food awards.
Peeled black garlic cloves are shelf-stable and ready to slice on crackers, spread on steak or other alternatives such as pasta or cheese.
The powder does not need to be cooked and can be sprinkled on pasta, pizza and poached eggs – anything really.
Choose a garlic group to suit your region
Garlic expert Penny Woodward says there is a lot of confusion about garlic names.
“If you can determine what group a garlic belongs to, you will at least have an idea of whether it will grow in your region or not,” she said.
Braidgarlic grows six varieties of garlic. Duganski (Standard group) is perfect for baking whole and the cultivar used in Australia was found in a bazaar in Samarkand in Uzbekistan.
The Monaro Purple (Turban group) is said to have been brought to Australia by Yugoslavian tunnel diggers on the Snowy Mountain Hydro Scheme.
The Spanish Roja (Creole group) stores well and is a great for garlic bread.
The Italian Purple (Turban group) is thought to have originated with the Italian communities around Leeton and Griffith.
The Deerfield Purple (Rocambole group) loves the cold, and has a warm, rich with moderate heat.
The White Crookneck (Turban group) has white bulb skin with white to pale pink cloves. Its great to eat raw.