Balsamic vinegar, molasses, liquorice, sweet and savoury – just some words that chefs and market-goers use to describe the unique and complex flavours of John Pye’s Bredbo Black Garlic. Grown just past Michelago on the organic and biodynamic Ingelara Farm, John believes it’s good farming practice that grounds the quality of his product. “It’s organic garlic and grown properly, and that’s very important,” John says.
The process of making black garlic involves controlled fermentation over time, resulting in coal black cloves that have an amazingly unique flavour profile – the peculiar product of 40 days under constant temperature and humidity. “I build the fermenters myself,” John explains. “It took me two years to get it right. The garlic goes in for 40 days and converts itself into black garlic. There’s nothing added – a maillard reaction occurs where the garlic itself becomes black through constant temperature and humidity. It completely changes the flavour. There’s many types of black garlic out there so it’s important for people to try different ones. We’re proud of ours because of its complexity.”
A long-time member of the local food community, John can be found with his range of black garlic products at the Capital Region Farmer’s Markets every Saturday morning. He also supplies numerous Canberra chefs who make the best of this black beauty. “It’s interesting to watch chefs taste the black garlic – they’ll look into the sky, you can see flavours playing on their tastebuds and they’ll come up with great descriptions of what they think of the flavour,” he says. “Farmers markets have revolutionised producing, and chefs are now looking for local produce to put on their menus. Australian garlic is highly sought after – chefs don’t want to use imported garlic because it doesn’t have the flavour they need.”
John also uses his time at the markets and contact with chefs to collaborate and educate people about his product and its benefits. “It can be used in many applications, we team up with other producers; we’ve made black garlic cheese with Tilba Dairy and worked with local chocolatiers to produce black garlic chocolate. It’s very good for you. Full of antioxidants with such a unique flavour. The possibilities are endless.”