Garlic is one of those staples found in my kitchen any time of the year. The smell of garlic sautéing in a pan lets everyone in our family know I am cooking up something tasty! I add it to a variety of recipes from sautéed dishes to roasted veggies and salad dressings. Sometimes I will rub a cut clove on the inside of a salad bowl for a subtle flavor.
Garlic comes in so many useful forms: fresh bulbs, peeled cloves, garlic powder, spice blends and minced in a jar. I use all these choices, but I tend to keep a bulb or two in a bowl on the counter. I feel like a master chef when I mince it myself and some people think the flavor and aroma are richer using a fresh clove.
5 Tips for Garlicky Goodness
Choose a big firm bulb. Make sure it is not soft or has green sprouts. (If your bulb develops sprouts cut them out before cooking, as they can be bitter.) I remember when I was first learning to cook with fresh garlic. I had no idea that the whole bulb was not a clove! A single bulb of garlic usually contains between ten and twenty individual cloves of garlic. The bulb is covered with a white papery outer skin and the individual cloves are covered with a fine pinkish/purple skin.
Store in a cool dry place. Whole garlic keeps for months in a cool dry place and is fine on the counter for several weeks. If the garlic in the bowl starts to dry out, mince it and add a bit of olive oil then store in a jar in the refrigerator. You can also freeze this in ice cube trays to use when needed.
Detach the cloves. First, remove the bulb’s outer layer of the white papery skin. Then, with the stem pointed into your work surface and bulb at a slight angle, press down and away with the heel of your hand. Gently roll and the bulb will come apart into individual cloves.
Peel the cloves. Trim off the root-end and then roll in your fingers to loosen skin. Discard the skin. Sometimes fresh garlic is more difficult to peel so another tip is to place cloves in the microwave for 15 seconds. The skins should peel off easily. If you intend to use smashed garlic, lay the flat edge of a large knife against the clove and smash with your hand on the knife. The skin will peel right off and the clove is nicely smashed.
Prepare your cloves. The flavor will depend on how you prepare your clove. The smaller you cut it, the stronger the flavor. Chopping finely and/or smashing a clove exposes more surfaces to the air, causing a chemical reaction to produce that strong aroma and potent flavor. When sautéing don’t overcook/burn the garlic or it will become bitter.
Whole cloves will be mildest
Sliced will be mild
Minced will be a medium strength
Smashed will be the most intense flavor
I love the smell of garlic in my food as it’s cooking, but not so much on my hands or breath! I usually use lemon juice to neutralize any strong smells on my hands or cutting board. Another idea is to rub your fingers under cold water against something made of stainless steel, such as a sink, faucet, or spoon. To neutralize the odor of garlic on my breath, I eat an apple or chew on fresh mint leaves.
Fresh garlic can be used in a variety of ways such as sautéing, roasting or raw. Search in your DinnerTime Recipe Box for tasty dishes featuring garlic.
Check out these DinnerTime recipes made with garlic.
Smells as good as it tastes.
Easy to make everyday or for company.
Fresh and easy classic pasta dish.