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Make the Best Home Made Garlic

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Black garlic turns black after it is allowed to age over time under controlled conditions that bring about a Maillard reaction. 

It is this chemical reaction between reducing sugars and amino acids that gives black garlic that dark color and distinctive flavor.

The flesh of black garlic has a flavor that is at once both distinctly savory and slightly sweet. The resultant flavor and texture is similar to that of molasses. 

On the edges, black garlic feels tender yet dry, but the center is moist with a slightly gelatinous feel.

Black garlic has gained immense popularity over the last few years as a restaurant ingredient, although Asians have been eating it for centuries. 

Black garlic is nutritious, rich in immune-boosting nutrients, such as phytonutrients, according to medical experts. 

Dehydrators are a fairly popular tool for making home-made black garlic. But most people don’t own one. I don’t own one myself, either. 

Most of the techniques I picked up from YouTube videos required me to make a ton of black garlic heads at a go. It was always too much for me to possibly consume at once, even with my garlic habit. 

I was desperate to find a way to make just a few black garlic heads and without having to splurge on new kitchen equipment. 

Instant Pot Black Garlic 

When I discovered the Instant Pot technique, I was smitten with it. Of course I was enamored by the idea of making black garlic within a day instead of a month. 

It was a YouTube video of course that came to my rescue. I learned that I could place peeled cloves of garlic inside a Mason jar, add the jar and a cup of water inside the Instant Pot, and then leave it cooking on high for the next 6-8 hours. 

Six hours later, I was opened the Instant Pot to find somewhat sooty but not quite black garlic. The insides were just the same as those of raw garlic and not squishy at all.

At first I thought it was the six hour cooking time, so I tried again. This time I gave it the full eight hours.  Even then, the texture was not soft and gelatinous like I wanted. The flavor too was a definite miss. Nothing like the black garlic I got from the store. 

At this point, I was ready to move on to my next experiment: Slow Cooker Black Garlic.

Slow Cooker Black Garlic

Emerged from my failed experiment older and wiser, I went back to good old YouTube for inspiration for my next experiment. After a whole lot of YouTubing, I gathered that I was supposed to place the garlic heads inside a turkey basting bag and cooking it on low heat on the slow cooker and then leaving it for a week, checking on it, then cooking it for another week before my black garlic is ready. 

It is a miracle that I even finished the first week of the damned experiment. By day three, the smell of garlic was so intense that I had to quarantine the slow cooker in the bathroom to avoid permanently marking my home with an indelible smell of garlic. 

At the end of the week, the poor basting bag was melted, and the garlic was transformed into coal. Completely charred and lacking in moisture. To call it a failure would be an understatement. 

I tested the temperature of the Crock-Pot after the whole thing was over and at was 350°F at the lowest setting. The failure of the experiment was no longer a mystery. 

I decided to restart the experiment, this time turning it off and on to keep the temperature from going too high or too low. 

It took effort to do this, and three days later, I was rewarded with a second batch of charred garlic. 

My final conclusion was that this method only works with a slow cooker whose lowest temperature setting is between 120 and 160°F.

I was now about to give up, but I still had not tried my rice cooker. So off I went. 

Rice Cooker Black Garlic

I approached my third and final experiment armed with the lessons learned from my work with the slow cooker. 

I tested my rice cooker’s temperature first before putting in my garlic cloves. I was working with a trusted 15-year-old rice cooker. My Zojirushi rice cooker bottoms out at 150°F which is higher than 120°F but certainly not as high as 350°F. I would have to carry out a daily temperature check. 

I started with two heads of garlic which I wrapped in foil before dunking into the rice cooker. The rice cooker was also sealed in foil from the top to keep the garlic from losing moisture. 

Two days later, I checked on my garlic heads and loved how well they were doing. They were visibly darker, though not as dark as they needed to be. I did sadly, cause the garlic to lose much of its moisture.

By the sixth day, my garlic was almost black and thankfully not as dry as I expected. Day nine was the D-Day. I removed my garlic heads, skinned them and was delighted to discover a proper clove of black garlic. 

The first thing I noticed was the aroma which was very similar to store-bought garlic. Then I cut it in two and discovered a gelatinous but stable texture. It was just what I wanted. 

It was now time for the taste test.  I now tasted the garlic and discovered that it was almost perfect. The ‘almost’ meaning that it was a little too dry. 

I figure if I keep them covered throughout the cooking process and pull them out on Day 8 instead of Day 9, I will probably end up with perfect black garlic cloves. 

I had achieved what I wanted. I had a reasonably sized batch of homemade black garlic ready without having to wait a whole two weeks or purchase any additional kitchen equipment. 

My trusted old rice cooker was good enough. My two prior experiments were more than worth it. The milder flavors were pleasant. This method for preparing the best homemade garlic is perfect for black garlic lovers. People who rarely use black garlic can settle for store-bought garlic. 

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Why your Dessert Badly Needs Preserved Lemons

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Sweet things often taste even better with a little zing from fresh lemon. Preserved lemon is even better because in addition to the zing, it has a salty flavor that rounds off the sweetness. 

Whether you love cheesecake, custard pie, pound cake, or ice cream for dessert, adding some preserved lemon to it will take it to another level. 

Once you start using preserved lemon in your dishes, it is impossible to go back to life without it. Preserved lemon makes desserts better and works well even in savory dishes like roasts, salads, chicken, and pastas.

Folding chunks of preserved lemon into your cake batter makes it ultimately better. 

What is Preserved Lemon

Preserved lemon is made by fermenting whole lemons until they are soft, and salting them. Preserved lemons are incredibly popular in Morocco, Tunisia, Iran, North African, Israeli, and Turkish menus.

Preserved lemon is called lemon pickle in India, where they season it with chili powder, turmeric, as well as cumin, etc.

They chop the lemons whole and seed them before fermenting and seasoning them. You can stir the condiment into most dishes that require fresh lemon. 

They offer a more complex flavor than the usual fresh lemon. Even after you are done making preserved lemons, you can use the remaining brine to cook. It is heavily seasoned and still carries a mild taste of lemon. 

Baked goods like sugar cookies and cakes often have a whiff of lemon. You can safely assume that any cake recipe can do well with some lemon zest. But it is not advisable to do that. 

Lemon gives sweet things a tangy flavor. Preserved lemon is just like fresh lemon but with more punch. 

Desserts with savory ingredients inside them are a delight. Tahini was a trend for a while. The sesame paste tastes something close to peanut butter without salt. And it appears quite frequently in baked goods. 

Pound cakes and cookies taste rather pleasant when cooked with some miso paste. Ice cream does well with the salty flavor of fish sauce caramel, and brownie cookies are amazing with tangy sumac baked in. 

You may have noticed chili powder in some sweet treats of late and even cardamom is giving cinnamon a run for its money by flavoring cookies, buns, and cakes all over the United States. 

Preserved lemon is quite possibly the next big thing in savory seasonings flavoring sweet treats. You can try out different ways of incorporating lemon into a baked good. But a good way to start is to work with recipes that contain fresh lemon and substitute the fresh lemon with preserved lemon. 

You can even preserve other citrus juices with preserved lemon. 

Chopped preserved lemon will give you a different texture from lemon juice, but it won’t make a significant difference otherwise. Your cake or custard will still come out delicious. 

You can use lemon juice in addition to preserved lemon. And you definitely want to reduce the amount of salt you add into the batter because preserved lemon already has salt. 

You have the option of preparing preserved lemon yourself, or buying some ready-made from the store. Most stores sell preserved lemon whole. Mina is one of my favorite brands, as is Tara Kitchen. Preserved lemon paste is also a thing. You can go for that as well. Some cooks prefer preserved Meyer lemon paste, but that is a little harder to find in the store than regular preserved lemon. Tart is a vinegar company that produces it in small batches. It works beautifully in baking.  

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Fool Proof Brown Butter Recipe

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Everything tastes better with brown butter. Everyone knows that. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about sweet dishes like sugar cookies, or a more savory dish, like pasta. Brown butter just makes it all better. 

It adds a richness and fullness to the flavor that beats melted butter, because it has a toasted, nutty quality to it.

To be clear, most people who taste brown butter in a dish don’t pick it out immediately. But they will notice that something is definitely working.

Brown butter leaves everyone satisfied ad pleased, but not quite sure why. 

It is simple to make brown butter on your stove top, but the process is not exactly easy. First of all, you need the butter cut into uniform cubes because it absolutely has to brown evenly. 

You have to get the burner to the right temperature so that the butter melts and browns fast enough not to hold you hostage to your stove and slow enough not to overcook.

Perhaps the most demanding aspect of it is that you have to stand there and watch, stir, and swirl the pan from time to time and to take it off the fire when it develops just the right color and smell. You see, it takes but a heartbeat for brown butter to go from perfect to burnt, and you have to be there to keep that from happening. 

If you could make brown butter in the microwave, you could avoid all the mess and the fuss, and free up space on your stove top as well as free up your kitchen counter.

Make Brown Butter using the Microwave

Cut your butter roughly and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. If you are working with a cup of butter, cover the bowl and microwave on high for 10 minutes.

If you are working with less than a cup of butter, you can do this for less than 10 minutes. When your brown butter is ready, it should smell nutty and have some brown bits inside it, as well as a nice amber color. 

If you don’t see this, just pop it back in for one more minute or two. The microwave is much less likely to burn your brown butter in my experience. 

You don’t have to use your hands to mix and turn the butter. It is completely hands-off. 

You can recycle the bowl for something else. You can even bake in the same bowl!Browning butter on the microwave is a lot easier and less messy than on the stove top. Try this recipe, and maybe use the brown butter to make some blondies. They will taste so much more amazing and you will be the only one who will know the secret reason. 

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Tips for Storing Butter at Room Temperature

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Butter is such a popular spread and baking ingredient that you cannot miss it in any kitchen. This dairy product has a way of making virtually anything taste better. 

It has a high-fat content of over 80% which gives it a longer shelf life. 

Butter is made by churning gallons of milk until to separate it from the buttermilk. The creamy, smooth, and flavorful attributes of butter make it perfect for baking, cooking, and spreading. 

But fats tend to go rancid, and you have to store butter properly to avoid this. Spoiled butter will get moldy and may develop a sour taste which may cause stomach aches.

Butter does not have to stay in the fridge or freezer to its quality. It can retain its quality even at room temperature. You don’t even need a special container for your butter.

Here is a brief overview of how to store butter at room temperature

Consider the temperature in your kitchen

The ideal temperature for butter is 67-72 degrees. Changes in the temperature in your kitchen will require that you take extra precautions to avoid spoiling the butter. 

A/C comes in handy in case temperatures go too high. If you are not in a position to regulate temperature, you might want to consider relocating it to the fridge. 

Not all Butters are the Same

Butter comes in two varieties: salted and unsalted. 

Salted butter lasts longer on your kitchen counter compared to unsalted butter. This is because salt is a preservative which gives salted butter a longer shelf life at room temperature and keep destructive bacteria at bay.  

If you have unsalted butter, you are better off leaving it inside a fridge or freezer. 

Know how much Butter you are Going to Use

When you know just how much butter you are going to use in a day or meal, you can scoop out only that amount and return the rest to the safety of the fridge. Anticipate how often you are going to use butter, and how much you will use for spreading, or baking. This way you keep your butter safe from spoiling. 

Consider the type of container for storage

Use an opaque and airtight container to store butter at room temperature. Light and air accelerate oxidation. 

When the oils in the butter oxidize, they become rancid. This process alters the molecular structure of butter; producing harmful compounds which may cause food poisoning. A good butter dish will make the butter spreadable for a longer duration. Avoid using metallic storage containers because they are good conductors of heat and make it easier for butter to spoil.

Confirm Pasteurization

Pasteurization destroys pathogenic microorganisms like bacteria in dairy products. The high-fat content in butter makes it vulnerable to spoiling. That is why pasteurization is so good. 

According to the United States Foods and Drugs Administration (FDA), bacteria cannot survive in pasteurized butter. The pasteurization process separates fat molecules from water molecules and makes it harder for bacteria to breakthrough. Pasteurization kills bacteria so that the butter won’t spoil. Pasteurized butter takes a lot longer to spoil.

Store the Butter in the Optimum Location

Place your container of butter away from any sources of heat. Choose a cool place in the kitchen. Heat makes butter melt and sometimes spoil. Spoiled butter will give food bad flavors. 

This is why you have to be careful about where you store the dish. You can store it in a closed cabinet away from the stove or any source of heat.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, it is possible for butter to retain its quality at room temperature. You just have to pay attention to the room temperature, the container, location, as well as the type of butter you are dealing with. 

Storing butter at room temperature instead of freezing it has some advantages. It stays thick and easy to spread. You don’t have to soften or melt the butter. If butter is your bliss, you definitely want to store it properly. 

Butter has a surprising ability to stay fresh at room temperature, under the right conditions.

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