We’ve all cheated. Garlic pills, garlic powder, garlic salt. Some restaurants have now even given in to the temptation to cook with the faux garlic that comes chopped in a jar, practically preserved in formaldehyde. We know it isn’t as good for us as fresh garlic, nor is it anywhere near as tasty. But we don’t use fresh garlic because we think it has to be a time-consuming hassle.
So here are some tips to put that myth to rest, and hopefully make your relationship with garlic more fruitful and flavorful:
Stainless Steel Soap. Don’t like the way garlic oil lingers after you’re done cooking? Have you ever found yourself sitting on your hands to disguise garlic-scented fingers? As long as you’re not worried about warding off vampires, there’s an easy and painless method to getting rid of garlic (and onion) odors on your hands. Stainless Steel Soap. Shaped like an ordinary bar of soap, this $10 invention can be kept on your sink. When you’re done chopping, just run your hands under cold water and “wash” with it. Voila. The tell-tale scent of garlic is gone. It never wears out, and requires no additional upkeep. For a cheaper, looks-more-insane remedy, find some stainless steel implement in your kitchen and try to use it in the same fashion for free.
Garlic Ice Cubes. Some days, we have all the time in the world to cook at our leisure. Other days, we’re lucky if we have time to grab take-out from McDonald’s. Those busy days are the ones where some advanced planning can come in handy. On a day when you have the time-say, while waiting for your delicious pasta sauce to simmer all day on the stove-take a garlic press and a few heads of garlic. Get a bowl, and put some olive oil into it. Get your ice cube trays out, and line them with saran wrap. Now, peel and crush all that garlic into the bowl of olive oil. Mix it up. Now pour it into the ice cube trays and freeze. When you’re done, put the little cubes into a Ziploc bag, wash and reclaim your ice cube trays and you’ll have a ready portion of fresh garlic to use any time you want to cook with it. If this sounds like a lot more work than it’s worth, consider buying the pre-chopped, frozen garlic cubes from Trader Joe’s or online.
Get a Great Garlic Press. Imagine not having to peel your garlic before you put it into the garlic press. Imagine a garlic press that does the peeling for you. It’s not a fantasy. It actually exists for less than $15! The Zyliss Susi Deluxe Garlic Press is designed for heavy-duty use, and has created a legion of satisfied and loyal customers. The main problem is that it’s mostly handy when you only need to press one clove of garlic. If you’ve got lots to do, you’ll have to peel them first. Now, if you’re serious about pressing garlic, buy the only garlic press you’ll ever need: Rosle’s Garlic Press. This well-engineered device lets you crush garlic with minimal pressure, and it can also handle unpeeled garlic if required.
Learn to Mince Properly. Don’t stand there chopping all willy-nilly. When you get your clove peeled and on the chopping board, lay it flat. Use a sharp knife to make several horizontal cuts that go almost to the base of the garlic, but not all the way. Now you can chop vertically from the end, and your garlic will come off the clove already minced.
Peeling Tricks. One method is to whack your garlic with the flat side of a cleaver or blade. This will split the skin, more often than not, and you’ll be able to peel it easily. But sometimes you don’t want to split your clove, and sometimes the skin is more stubborn. You can buy a garlic-peeler, but it may just be easier to purchase pre-peeled garlic. BJs Wholesale Club sells two varieties of pre-peeled garlic. One individually wrapped in packets of four, and another mammoth jar that you store in the fridge. Another place to get pre-peeled garlic is your local Asian food market. It doesn’t cost a lot more than the unpeeled variety, and frankly, the first time I saw it, I didn’t care how much it cost.
And there you have it. Five tips to conveniently using real garlic. Happy eating!