Expert Tips for Cooking With Garlic Expert Tips for Cooking With Garlic

Expert Tips for Cooking With Garlic

Everything You Need to Know to be a Garlic Pro

Garlic has been used for medicinal and culinary uses for over 700 years. While it's most commonly used as an herb or spice in cooking, garlic is actually a vegetable. There are more than 20 types of garlic. Although garlic is grown all around the world, the most common are strong, white-skinned American garlic and the milder, purple-streaked Italian and Mexican types. Want garlic with a spicier kick? Try Spanish varieties, characterized by pink and purple bulbs. Green or “spring” garlic is an immature form of the garlic most typically used in everyday cooking. It makes for a good swap with members of the onion family, and its mildly nutty flavor brings something new to the table. The entire plant is edible, including the “scapes” or stems.

Garlic is an essential part of a huge variety of recipes. The cloves add distinctive depth of flavor from everything from pasta to potatoes. You're probably already familiar with garlic's pungent taste (and aroma), but here are a few more facts to know when it comes to cooking with fresh garlic.

Choosing a Fresh Bulb

Garlic is an ingredient that is used year round, so making sure you can identify a fresh bulb in the supermarket is important. Simply, pick the bulb up and squeeze it lightly. You want to feel the outside cloves and make sure they are not too dry or soft. The bulb should feel firm, not dehydrated or hallow. Another easy way is to check the bottom of the root for sprouting, that is an indicator that the garlic is old.

 

Person holding a fresh clove of garlic

How to Store Garlic

There are many different ways to store garlic, but here are the three most common ways to store fresh garlic at home.

  • Room Temperature! The easiest and most convenient way to store your fresh garlic at home is wrapped in mesh bags left at room temperature. Room temperature is between 60-65 degrees. Fresh garlic is best stored in a dark, dry environment.
  • Refrigerate It! You can store garlic in the crisp drawer of any refrigerator, however once you take it out the garlic will begin to sprout within a couple of days, making the taste bitter. Make sure to keep your garlic refrigerated until you are ready to use it.
  • Throw it in the Freezer and Save for Later! Need to save time in the kitchen? Freezing garlic is a great way to preserve that fresh flavor, and it stays good for up to six months! There are a few ways to freeze garlic, but our favorite, and the most convenient method is the ice cube hack. Three easy steps and you have ready-to-go garlic. Simply, peel the cloves, mince the garlic and add a bit of water or broth. Make sure the ice cube trays are air tight. Tip: add a bit of olive oil to prevent the cube from freezing solid. Within 3 hours you will have ready-to-use garlic you can throw onto your pan at any time.

How Long Does Garlic Last?

Stored properly, garlic bulbs can last up to eight weeks. Garlic that sprouts can still be used; just remove the bitter green shoots.

How Much Is a Clove of Garlic?

There are about 10-12 cloves of garlic in a bulb, and one garlic clove converts to 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic or 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.

Substitutes for Fresh Garlic

While fresh garlic is best, the dried stuff will do in a pinch. A medium-size clove of fresh garlic is equivalent to:

  1. 1/2 teaspoon garlic flakes

  2. 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

  3. 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

  4. 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder (the dried version is great for mixing a dry rub or working with high heat)

What's the Best Way to Prep Garlic: Crush, Mince or Mash?

The more you damage garlic's cell walls, the more sulfide-transforming enzymes you release-and with them, more pungent garlic flavor. Since crushing breaks the most cells, crushed garlic cloves taste stronger, whereas coarsely chopped or sliced garlic cloves taste milder. Intact garlic cloves are mildest of all. Mashing minced garlic with a pinch of coarse salt can help tame the harsh flavor.

Peeling Garlic

The easiest way to peel a garlic clove is to place it under the flat side of a broad, heavy knife and bang it with your fist. The papery skin will slip right off. There is also an entire shelf of tools at the gourmet store devoted to peeling and preparing the clove, and it's worthwhile to check out a few of them:

  • Garlic press - You can't go wrong with old reliable. There is a reason this tool has been a high seller since 1950. This handheld metal tool allows you to crush the garlic through small holes that allow you to collect all parts of the garlic, the pulp, oils and juices.

  • Garlic slicer- Upgrade your garlic game and create thin, even slices, quickly, and safely. This tool takes care of the mess for you. Simply, put the garlic in the chamber and slide the chamber back and forth.

  • Garlic twist - Skip the mess of the garlic press or painstaking (and aromatic) process of chopping garlic by hand. This simple tool preps your garlic just the way you want it with a twist or two of the sharp blades.

 

Woman cutting and chopping garlic on a cutting board in a kitchen

How to Mince Garlic?

Impress your friends and family by flawlessly mincing your garlic like a pro.

  1. Remove some of the outer papery-like skin from the bulb.

  2. Loosen the garlic by pushing down the flat side of the clove firmly onto a cutting board The individual cloves will loosen and break apart.

  3. Peel the cloves until they are stripped away of their papery-like skin. You want it to be complete bare with no skin remaining.

  4. Place the cloves under the flat side of a kitchen knife. With one hand firmly on the handle, use the other hand to press down, in one motion, swift and hard on the knife, this will break down the clove, and separate it from the skin.

  5. After crushing the garlic, hold the knife and take your hand across the top if it. Using a rocking motion chop the garlic back and forth, as finely as you desire.

Pro Tip: Minced garlic is the best way to deliver the strong aromas, and powerful flavors to any dish, sauce, or marinade.

When To Add Garlic While Cooking?

It’s easy to end up with burned garlic, particularly when it’s been cut into small bits. Accordingly, you should avoid setting the stove’s temperature too high and time when you add those pieces to the pan. It's crucial that you don't add the garlic to the pan until at least half-way through the cooking process (in the case of stir-fries and sautés), or very soon before you add a liquid element (such as pasta sauce) to the pan, which will bring down the temperature and prevent burning.

 Roasting Garlic: To do so, slice off the top of the head of garlic and drizzle it with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and wrap with foil. Bake at 375F for approximately 40 min. Once the roasted garlic has cooled, simply squeeze the bottom of the head of garlic and the roasted cloves will pop out.

Getting the Smell of Garlic Off Your Hands

From the old stainless steal trick, to new tips like toothpaste. If you struggle with the scent of garlic infused hands, and fingers, read below on how you can quickly rub away that contagious odor in three different ways

  • Lemon - We all know that lemons are packed with vitamin C, but did you know they are a great source for removing bad odors, all while keeping your hands clean with a strong citrus smell. Leave the garlic in the kitchen, and keep your hands shining and smelling great.
  • Salt & Baking Soda - Not everyones first instinct, but a solution that has not failed us yet! If you have sensitive skin we recommend only using baking soda for this remedy. Combine cold water, 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of baking soda. Stir the mixture together and you should start to see a paste form. Lather the paste onto your hands and fingernails for a garlic free scent.

  • Tomato Juice - If you've ever been sprayed by a skunk, you're all too familiar with this classic remedy. Tomato juice has been known to mask and eliminate strong smells. Simply, soak your hands in tomato juice for a brief period of time. You should find that strong garlic smell to slowly fade into the past.

Health Benefits of Garlic

Scientists now know that most of garlic's health benefits are caused by sulfur compounds formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed or chewed. The active compounds can reduce blood pressure, and improve cholesterol levels. At high doses, the sulfur compounds in garlic have been shown to protect against organ damage from heavy metal toxicity. 

The combined effects on reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as the antioxidant properties, may reduce the risk of common brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Garlic supplements are known to boost the function of the immune system, protecting you from cold and flu season. All in all, garlic has a very diverse background, with a multitude of beneficial uses. 

 

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