Cool Culinary Experiment at EHS

Senior makes black garlic. What is it? How is it used?

Owen Ulmer and Staff Writer

One of the most unique culinary experiments is happening in the kitchen at Englewood High School. Kayden McCaskey, a senior student in ProStart, is making black garlic.

It takes up to seven weeks for Kayden McCaskey to create this culinary delight.

Sarah Davis is the family consumer science teacher. She says the project began with a note from Kaydin, “So Kayden messaged me over the summer, asking if I had heard of black garlic or seen black garlic, and I hadn’t, and he is doing kind of an independent study of ProStart level three. And so we decided to turn that into his big culminating project of producing black garlic, coming up with a business plan on how to market it, the whole nine yards of opening a business to sell black garlic.”

McCaskey says the garlic project began around a year ago, “I was watching fermentation videos on Youtube and found this process. I was very interested just because of the simplicity of this fermentation process, the only problem was that I did not have a dehydrator. So I saved some money and bought one and it was one of the best purchases of my life. There are so many things that you can do in a dehydrator from banana chips to Beef jerky. The garlic was my main focus though and interested me just because of the flavor profiles that were being explained.” 

I began to lose hope of ever being able to make the perfect batch and a perfect method for the garlic.”

— Senior Kayden McCaskey

Kayden McCaskey, a senior student in ProStart, is making black garlic.

According to the website, “Japan Experience,” it is nearly impossible to trace the true origins of black garlic. According to other sources, it got its start in Japan. Black garlic is a very popular ingredient in East Asian cuisine and is said to have many health benefits, “Honestly this is a unique project because no one has ever heard of it, but this type of method for garlic is extremely popular in Japan and originated in Korea about 4,000 years ago from what we know,” said McCaskey. 

The process to make black garlic from garlic cloves is a long one, “Well I have a certain method to my madness but in the simplest forms of explaining how it is made. You basically toss fresh heads of garlic in water, then vacuum seal the heads of garlic, then throw those bags into the dehydrator for 4-7 weeks depending on how malleable you want the garlic and how strong you want the flavor to be,” said McCaskey.  

He says there have been so many failures in this process, “I began to lose hope of ever being able to make the perfect batch and a perfect method for the garlic. I’ve used about 5 separate dehydrators and have probably been through two to three hundred heads of garlic that have been either burnt or just not how I wanted them. Either it is a cheap dehydrator or just keeping up with the garlic for 7 weeks. Just recently I have been able to really dive deep into the food science of this process and have made what I consider pretty close to the perfect black garlic. The taste, texture, appearance, malleability, and overall essence are so good and throws off your taste buds just right to make you want to learn more and cook more with it.” 

Davis says the dehydration process also changes the molecular composition of the garlic, “Turning it from white to black, taking it from a hard clove of garlic to more of like a jelly gummy consistent consistency.” 

It has a lot of culinary uses and a lot of culinary applications. Davis says McCaskey is trying to raise awareness of how to use it in dishes, “He has been doing some infused oils so black garlic-infused oils. He did some garlic spice so he took those gummy garlic cloves, smeared them onto a silicone mat, and dehydrated it even more. He then turned it into a powder. It is a spice that he uses as a rub and seasoning.”  

“You can put black garlic in any food that you would put regular garlic in. The process of dehydrating it makes it a little sweeter but also dulls the strong garlic flavor so you will have to use more than the recipe says,” McCaskey said. 

Davis says the most difficult part is awareness, “It’s something that most people haven’t even heard about and so that’s part of his project is getting the word out and raising the awareness about this culinary awesomeness.” 

McCaskey says turning this into a money-making venture is next, “I do want to start a business but since I have been trying to perfect this recipe for so long I have not even thought about what kind of profits I could make. I know I will get it started once I have perfected the recipe even more with consistent results and have other products to go along with it. I’m actually in the process of making black garlic-infused oil for cooking.”