Kitchen. The black garlic from the Drôme produced by the Boutarins flavors the dishes of the great chefs

Fanny and Stéphane Boutarin are in symbiosis. Together, this united couple produces garlic in the Drôme. These two farmers have also embarked on the production of a very aromatic product: black garlic. To achieve this, they were inspired by Japanese traditions. Discovery on the set of “You are great” on France3 Auvergne Rhône Alpes.

Garlic and, more particularly, black garlic producers in Crest, in the Drôme, Fanny and Stéphane Boutarin are inseparable. Their respective families live 800 meters apart. These two were therefore rather destined to meet.

Garlic was already present on Fanny’s side, whose uncle was a producer. ” I come from a family of farmers. My mom was a chef. I had known Stéphane for a really long time. But I wanted to do other things, and in particular to travel. But that didn’t stop me from coming back to Crest and marrying that farmer. she smiles. She worked for 16 years at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the department.

Fanny notably followed two years of studies on English literature in Great Britain. ” It was study-pleasure. Learn to learn, but also open up to another culture. This led me to have an opening. Know how to look at the world, adopt a capacity for observation, adaptability “, she explains.

Stéphane also comes from an agricultural background. The sudden disappearance of his brother changed his destiny. ” My father offered me to take over his farm and we chose this path together “, he confirms. ” As a kid, I was more into restaurant service. Without really knowing what I wanted to become. It was like a sign. It was possible, the farm was there and I was able to work with my dad. From that moment on, we really spent time together and it was extraordinary. »

The day we considered our merger, we set a framework. Me, I will be on the farm, the garlic production.

Fanny was 7 years old, and Stéphane barely 9 years old, when they met. ” In any case, it’s our first memory of playing together. But we’ve met before laughs Fanny. But they first made their way separately, before getting together. ” I acquired skills elsewhere but, at some point, it became obvious to work together. But it only came late. »

They found a recipe to achieve this, as Stéphane explains ” For a long time, we were very separate, each with their own job. The day we considered our merger, we set a framework. Me, I will be on the farm, the garlic production. And she, really, on the processing and marketing of black garlic. Each his part. »

It was Stéphane who was the first to grow garlic. ” We started in 1993. At a time when the sector was structured. Mechanization has taken hold in harvesting. And farmers have come together to afford these machines, and market the garlic. »

Garlic is very diverse: white garlic, purple garlic, elephant garlic, the choice is not lacking. Without forgetting the shallot, which they also cultivate. ” Garlic is a bulb. We plant the pod in the ground, but, in vegetation, it will look more like a leek. A green, closed stem with palm-like leaves that will grow. Depending on the variety, we will have more or less colors, ranging from dark green to purplish and also more or less height “, explains Stéphane.

Maturity matters. “ There’s a specific time when we have to harvest it “, he confirms. ” We count the number of skins that surround the caïeux (pods) at the level of the head. When there are 3 or 4, it’s time to harvest, and we can go. » It is precisely at this moment, in June, that this is happening. “We are on the fall varieties. Depending on the planting dates, and the geographical location, things vary. In the South, they attacked a little before us. And, in the North, they still have a little time… »

In France, 40,000 tonnes of garlic are consumed per year. ” As much as the Spaniards “says Stéphane. ” Knowing that this country is the leading European producer. » Of our total consumption, half comes from imports « Mainly from Spain, a little from Argentina in December-January, and from China. »

French garlic has its own qualities. ” In fact, each region has its varietal type, with a specific taste, and its cuisine adapted accordingly. It’s like a wine, or a cheese. The best is necessarily the one that comes from home. And the Drôme garlic is particularly good “says the farmer with a smile.

That’s what makes it interesting, actually. adds Fanny. ” Each terroir has its own garlic and, as a result, has its aromatic note and its cuisine, too. And each dish can have its garlic. »

In 2017, a small upheaval continues in the daily life of this united couple: they decide to embark on the production of black garlic. A relatively new product from… Japan. ” Anyway, there are more literary quotes, and recent stories told about black garlic in Japan. They are dated. The first scientific patent is Japanese, and dates from 2002. And, before that, it was an oral tradition “Summarizes Fanny.

She goes into the details that she knows: It would be the fruit of the story of a sailor, gone to sea, who would have put garlic in the hold of his boat. The combination between engine temperature, humidity and salinity would have, after 90 days of travel, given birth to this product “, she advances, while adding “ There are several stories, and it is unclear which is really the origin of black garlic. »

You know, in Japan… Until you’re somebody, you’re nobody

Still, this black garlic is the result of a transformation. ” It is not a variety. There is no black garlic that we will take out of the ground “, she confirms. On the farm, Fanny is in charge of black garlic, and Stéphane of white garlic. “ We were lucky enough to be able to go to Japan, but not to learn this art…begins Stéphane. ” No. You know, in Japan… Until you’re somebody, you’re nobody. At the very beginning, I sought to get in touch with the grand master of Japanese black garlic, but I was nobody. So it didn’t work. So I worked on the subject, for a year, to understand during the transformation. Once I got recognition from French chefs, the Japanese echoed this recognition, and came to me “, adds Fanny.

They are very proud of this gesture. ” It was a great moment. We still remember “, they confirm in chorus. ” The great master of black garlic is a farmer. We have common practices and values. And then there is its rigor, which allows for a beautiful product. It is this love of things well done and respect for a product from start to finish that has us most, in black garlic, and in the link with the Japanese “says Fanny.

It is true that this rigor is essential. “ For once, with black garlic, you have to be very careful, with temperature levels. And then, you have to agree to wait 30 days. We might want to do it faster, etc… but no…she says.

In detail of the process, they deliver some details. ” We use a particular variety, because it gives a particular perfume. It gives the scent we were looking for. It’s like wine, like a grape variety they explain. ” We could do it with other varieties, but to have that flavor, you have to have the local variety. »

Fanny goes further. ” It’s a bit like being a winegrower, and having vines with which you would make a table wine… And discovering one day that with these grapes, you can also make good wine. When we discovered black garlic, we were in search of taste. Our quest was how to make people love garlic. “And even beyond:” Many people have trouble digesting garlic. It was about reconciling garlic with as many people as possible. When we discovered black garlic, we said to ourselves: it’s a second product, which we are able to offer with the same agricultural production. It’s a plus, but quite different… »

The variety they chose is hardly a secret. ” We use garlic from the Drôme, so IGP. We will simply put it in a kind of oven, and raise the temperature. The natural sugars will caramelize. Garlic, which contains moisture, will transpire naturally. It will cook at low temperature -65 degrees- in this natural humidity, for thirty days “says Fanny. By specifying that his ovens come from Japan, out of respect for tradition. “ They are very waterproof, and do not let moisture escape. adds Stéphane.

Once made, black garlic will offer several flavors. ” We will have a very slight acidity, with a “sweetness”. At first contact, in the mouth, we will have liquorice. Afterwards a little garlic taste will come, which is quite surprising. Then comes a roasted side, between chocolate and coffee. The surprise will come from the length that will be put in place. We then have a scent of land, of undergrowth, almost of boletus, which will remain in the mouth afterwards. », Describes meticulously Stéphane.

Fanny adds: It’s an incredible ingredient in the kitchen. As Stéphane said, it is very aromatic. We first started with restaurant chefs, to make the product known. On the plate, it will bring a slightly different balance. For example, with tomatoes, it will bring a balsamic side. With a pumpkin puree, it will give a slightly prune side. With the cheese, it brings a kind of fig jam, or a confit. With meat, it adds a side of mushrooms, undergrowth… More surprisingly, it is also found with chocolate. ” Thanks to its liquorice, spicy side. It brings a little acidity and sugar. »

video length: 01min 00

Fanny and Stéphane Boutarin answer the “very shabby” question

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What about the price? It seems that it’s a bit expensive… Not enough to disconcert our producer ” This pod, for example, we are going to make strips of it. We, in the Drôme, have ravioli. Two slices of black garlic in the ravioli will be enough to give some pep to the plate. But it’s still cheaper than truffles “, she reassures.

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