{secret chef tips} 8 Important Things You Should Know About Cooking with Garlic

I love garlic. And apparently, so does everyone else: it’s one of the most ubiquitous seasonings in the world, used by people in every country and thought to have many health benefits and healing properties. Here are 8 important things I think you should know about cooking with garlic, so you can make the most of this fabulous ingredient!

Top 8 Things You Should Know About Cooking with Garlic 

Lazy people take note: If you use a good-quality garlic press that is reasonably heavy-duty, you don’t need to peel the garlic cloves before crushing them in the press. The peel will stay in the press and the minced garlic will come out through the little holes for you to scrape off.

But don’t get too lazy and buy garlic in a jar: Pre-minced garlic in a jar has a substantially different flavor from fresh garlic that can affect your food. The reason is that the pungent sulfuric compounds that make garlic “garlicky” dissipate within a day or two. Those compounds are also the ones that offer all of the antioxidant health benefits, too, so with jarred garlic you won’t get those benefits either. Many of the pre-minced ones also have additives to keep it “fresh” which can change the taste as well.

When cooking garlic and onion together: Garlic will cook up in hot oil in mere seconds, whereas we all know that onions take 5-10 minutes to properly get soft and aromatic. Cooking the garlic too long will make it bitter and burnt. So even if a recipe says to saute the garlic and onion together, I never do it: I cook the onions then add the garlic after the onions are cooked, for about 30 seconds only.

Let raw garlic marry and mellow: If you’re making a sauce, salsa, mayonnaise, or other cold side dish or dip with raw garlic, make it at least an hour in advance to let the garlic marry with the other sauce ingredients and mellow out a bit. Raw garlic is most potent just after cutting into it, so this will help give the overall sauce a more well-rounded garlic flavor instead of a bitter bite of it.

If you need to peel a whole bunch of cloves quickly and easily: I have never tried this technique, but anyone who has seen this viral video is probably itching to bust out a 40-clove garlic chicken recipe just so they can give it a go.

On whether to remove the green bits of the garlic cloves, or not: I will let David Lebovitz share results of his experiments in this vein with you so you can decide for yourself. Short answer: if using raw, yes. If using cooked, don’t bother.

How get the smell off of your hands after dealing with garlic: Many people say to rub your hands on stainless steel or use lemon and salt to scrub it out. I have never found those to work. The only thing that I have found to get garlic smell off of my hands is this Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree soap – it always gets the smell right out.

One way to deal with potent garlic breath before that hot date: Go suck on a lemon. No, really.

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2 Responses

  1. I love this post. I always wonder about these things. And yes, I have tried that shake-the-peel off technique (I learned it from Rachel Ray, but I’ll never admit it). It only works for super fresh garlic, and even then it’s only a 60-70% success rate. My question is: do people use those teeny-tiny little slivers of garlic towards the inside of the bulb…or do you toss ’em?

    • Karen says:

      @Garrick that is a great question re the tiny slivers. If you use the garlic press and therefore don’t need to peel, it works OK.