How to Peel Garlic

 In Knife Skills, Teach Me to Cook

So what’s the benefit to peeling that sticky, papery garlic when you can buy it in a jar pre-minced and peeled? Well the peel keeps it fresher for longer which helps it retain it’s flavor. If you’re going to buy pre-peeled garlic, buy the whole cloves in a jar. The minced garlic floating in phosphoric acid has lost so much of its flavor it’s really not worth even putting it in your dish.

So let’s start with a bulb of garlic. This whole thing is known as the bulb, and each little section of it is called a clove.

To break down the bulb, use the heel of your hand and press firmly against the stem end with the root end, or the butt of the garlic, resting flat on the table. I usually rotate the garlic several times, pressing at each turn to help break up all the sections so it comes apart easier. Place your other hand, loosely around the garlic bulb so when it breaks apart you can catch the pieces.

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Bam, garlic cloves. This will take some practice and you will lose a few cloves on the floor the first couple of times. But if you’re not in a professional kitchen and not a germaphobe you might consider that the garlic cloves are all wrapped in paper which is going to come off so they’re probably still fine to use.

If you need all the cloves peeled for immediate use, pop them into two bowls, pinch the bowls together and shake the hell out of it. This is best not to do if you have a sleeping child but otherwise it’s loads of fun.

Here’s your garlic, the bowl method will remove the peels from roughly half of the cloves, more if you’re lucky! Go ahead and pick the cloves out that are still wrapped in their paper.

Place the clove on a cutting board and using the flat side of your knife and the flat of your hand (you may also use a fist), firmly smash the garlic clove until you hear it breaking apart a little.

You can see I really smashed this sucker into the board. Simply hitting the clove with the side of your knife won’t remove the paper, so don’t be gentle.

There you have it, the peel falls right off the garlic clove. If you need a pretty garlic clove that isn’t smashed to bits, I highly recommend these silicone garlic rollers.

Once at the restaurant I had to peel 5 lbs of garlic (ugh) and they had to be pretty. The bowl method and this little roller got me through. You just tuck a clove of garlic inside the silicone and roll it firmly a couple of times. Bam, the peel pops right off. A quick rinse will clean it out and it doesn’t take up much storage space. So whether you’re a roller or a smasher, these methods have got you covered!

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