The way anything is prepared affects the way it tastes—for example, thinly sliced vs. a chunkier dice. Garlic is no exception; sliced garlic actually has a different flavor than minced garlic.
Whether you’re making hummus, roasted veggies, sautéed chicken or salad dressing, garlic always adds a little somethin’. But, it can be a pain to process if you don’t know a few easy tricks.
Here are my quick tips to easily prepare garlic, and a few of my favorite ways to use it:
Where should you store it? Whole garlic heads will keep for months if ventilated and kept away from moisture, so store in a mesh or wire basket, in a dark cupboard. As soon as you remove a clove, however, the garlic head’s life shortens to just over a week. So use the entire bulb before breaking into a new one!
Separate cloves from bulb: The easiest way is to put the whole bulb into a sealed jar (or between two small metal bowls) and vigorously shake shake shake! The cloves will loosen, then separate.
1. Trim off the thin, root-like end and discard. Place a chef’s knife (flat side down) on the clove and smash with your palm. This will relieve the papery skin and allow you to easily peel it off.
2. If you’re using a lot of garlic at once, soak the cloves in cold water for 5 minutes. This will loosen the skin, making it much easier to remove. Store unused, peeled cloves in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a few days (any longer and they will begin to sprout or lose their flavor).
What’s the green thing inside? Sometimes garlic will sprout (especially if stored in the refrigerator) and a green stem, or germ, will emerge. It’s not harmful to eat, but it tastes bitter; so cut open the clove and discard the germ.
Smashed garlic: For a subtler flavor, simply smash a garlic clove and add to whatever you’re roasting or frying. Remove and discard the clove before serving.
Sliced garlic: Starting at the thicker end, slice crosswise into thin pieces.
Minced garlic: After your clove has been smashed, roughly chop the garlic then add a pinch of sea salt. (WHY? #1) Smash again with your knife, and chop more. Continue the smash and chop pattern until you reach your desired consistency.
Favorite ways to use garlic:
Roasted Garlic: Cut enough off the top of an entire head of garlic to expose all of the cloves inside. Discard top. Liberally rub exposed cloves with olive oil (WHY? #2), salt and pepper, and cover in a foil packet, sealing the top. Roast at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Carefully open foil packet. Garlic should be soft and mushy. Squeeze from bottom of bulb to remove the paste-like roasted garlic. Spread on crostini, use for pasta, soups or even roasted veggies. Roasted garlic will last about two weeks refrigerated, and a few months frozen.
Dressing: Add two minced garlic cloves to your favorite vinaigrette.
Psst! A few notes on Garlic:
WHY? #1: The sea salt will draw the moisture from the garlic, will help you form a garlicky paste.
WHY? #2: The olive oil will keep the garlic from burning.