Garlic Cooking Tips
Prepping garlic is the first step in cooking with garlic.
Following are a few suggestions on how to prep garlic.
Removing the Skin
“Side of Knife” Method
Place the cloves on a chopping board and crush them with the side of a cooking knife. This loosens the skin, making it easy to peel away and dispose. Or use a heavy-bottomed jar or cooking pot to whack them on the cutting board. This is the most popular method.
Cut the Base
Cut off the root end of the clove before crushing; this dislodges the skin from the clove’s basal plate (root).
Place the cloves in a large aluminum bowl, with a same-size bowl (or pot lid) on top. Hold them tightly together and shake vigorously for thirty seconds to loosen the skins. This works best for cloves with loose skin.
Soak the cloves for an hour in lukewarm water. Then drain the water and remove the peels.
Some people think that peeling and cutting garlic is too messy and makes their fingers smell of garlic. For those who prefer it, pre-peeled Ontario garlic is available from The Garlic Box in many supermarkets, in the frozen food section.
Getting The Most Out Of Your Ontario Grown Garlic
Release the Garlic Flavour
Each method produces a different texture, flavour and intensity. Feel free to experiment. Here, in order of strength, are the most popular methods of releasing garlic’s flavours.
Boil unpeeled cloves as directed in a recipe. This releases some mild garlic flavours (very little allicin is created), and some say, a subtle sweetness.
Coarse Chopped Garlic
Peel, smash and chop coarsely. This produces a small amount of allicin. It works best for garlic bits fried in oil. The browned nuggets are a tasty garnish on soup or salad. Coarsely chopped pieces retain some of the clove’s structure, leaving most cells intact until the dish is served. As the bits are chewed, allicin is released inside the mouth.
Finely Chopped Garlic
Finely chopped garlic is stronger and works better in liquids than fried in oil.
Mortar and Pestle
Peel, place in mortar and grind to a paste. This produces a larger amount of allicin, similar to mincing. The paste it produces works well in liquids and makes a good spread.
Peel, smash, mince and smash again. This produces the most allicin of any knife-prep method. It works best in liquids.
Peel, place in press and squeeze over small bowl. This produces more allicin than any knife-based method and protects your fingers from touching the garlic. Most presses these days are self-cleaning: tiny nubs are aligned to poke out the garlic pulp after use. Scrape off any pressed garlic and add to the bowl. Pressed garlic works best in liquids.
Peel, hold clove in two fingers and grate. This method releases the most allicin and provides maximum garlic flavour. Microplaned garlic works best in liquids. Take care to protect your fingers!
Whatever prep method you use, timing is critical. Once the cells of the clove have been breached, add garlic to the recipe as soon as possible. Unlike most ingredients, the volatile compounds that make up the odour and taste of garlic will quickly dissipate.
The cooking method used—including duration and temperature—is crucial. It contributes to the variety of flavours released, its level of sweetness, caramelization and the garlic intensity, or heat, of the dish.
Don’t Burn Garlic
Because garlic has less water than onions, it burns easily. To avoid this add the garlic after the liquid ingredients.
Vinegar, citrus fruits, tomatoes and other acid-based foods mute garlic’s ability to make allicin. Wait ten seconds after releasing the allicin before you add it to an acidic liquid. For example, when adding garlic to a vinegar- based salad dressing or to a pot of tomatoes, wait ten seconds before adding crushed garlic to the liquid.
Delay Adding Garlic
Add garlic at the end of cooking. Since heat destroys allicin some chefs and home cooks add extra garlic at the end of the cooking process, after the heat is turned off. If your objective is an extra-garlicky taste (or to fight a cold or flu), then you’ll want to follow this method.