The "fifth flavor" that, according to a Japanese study, distinguishes the human palate, "characterizes" one of the foods on the rise in recent years: black garlic, on which the University of Castilla-La Mancha and Mouse Hill are conducting research in order to determine and reinforce its "therapeutic and health benefits" qualities.
Located in the vicinity of 'Cerro Ratón' in Las Pedroñeras (Cuenca), "the world capital of garlic - purple -", this pioneering company in the production of products derived from black garlic, was born from the farmer's "need to innovate" and its co-founder, Luis José García, and the "anti-stress and energizing" effect that, according to his partner Rafael Esteban, a teacher and psychologist, it produced in patients who attended his therapies.
In an interview with Europa Press, Esteban advances that next week they will sign another collaboration agreement with the Department of Analytical Chemistry and Food Technology of the regional University to continue investigating, for the third year, the multiplicity of properties that it achieves purple garlic, which they grow themselves, after the fermentation process to which they submit it.
"The secret we know is in the ripening process of garlic as it gives it more energetic and healthy properties, as occurs in winemaking," explains Esteban, who affirms without hesitation that after the evaluation that they have made of his product, they have determined that their black garlic is "better than the rest".
The ripening process, key to the result
The studies, in which experts such as Professor Andrés Moreno, Professor of Food Chemistry and Agri-Food Waste at the UCLM, collaborate, have shown when garlic "reaches higher levels of amino acids and other antioxidant properties", during a process in which it changes its color to black and softens its characteristic smell and flavor.
Likewise, Luis and Jesús resort to these research analyzes to determine the values of the organic certified products that they are marketing in countries such as Germany, Japan, France or Portugal, where they also hope to invoice others on which they are testing such as tea or black garlic oil.
They even have the idea of making a lager that "more people can drink" than the Robust Poster that the Chinchilla (Albacete) Cervezas 69 company has made with another.
From chocolates to a soap with mare's milk
The first pairing they made of a product that "is already sold by everyone" resulted in a saffron bonbon that they have "improved" by adding other ingredients such as Hawaiian salt, chocolate or hazelnut paste.
Esteban, who insists on his interest in "putting value in the nutraceutical field", anticipates that "in the medium term" they will deepen, through the Ciudad Real Hospital, a study for the manufacture of a soap with mare's milk and black garlic that he hopes can serve as a "treatment for diseases such as acne or psoriasis, if possible," says Pedroñero.
In these investigations, techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging or chromatography are used, with which they manage to "multiply" the values of a food with "antiobiotic and antiseptic" properties, and of which the World Health Organization (WHO) "recommends consuming a daily tooth ". "With black garlic you have at least two of purple garlic in one clove, and sweet," Esteban points out.
"We have finally managed to domesticate garlic; it does not smell and it is good on top of it. We want it to be part of people's daily lives, not to cause that rejection," says the Mouse Hill partner, who also says they have opened a store in Madrid where he wants to create "a meeting point to give knowledge of black garlic" through activities such as tastings, pairings or a showcooking.
Black garlic, which had its origin in Japan, has had a dissemination in recent years that it has even become an ingredient in the winning dish of an edition of Masterchef in which Esteban remembers that they used Mouse Hill black garlic to pair a cod.
As suggestions for cooking, "some ribs baked with black garlic honey" is a "fantastic" dish, says Esteban, who also highlights the use of this to make cakes or muffins; a variety of gastronomic proposals with which black garlic and "its characteristic umami flavor" –Japanese term meaning 'delicious' - "form part of a diet".