I want to share an essential technique that every cook should know: how to peel garlic. Growing up, when my mom made dinner that called for garlic, she either reached for the dried minced garlic in the spice cabinet—crunchy, hard, and musty—or the tangy-smelling wet garlic in a jar in the fridge. Buying fresh garlic wasn’t even on her radar, and when I first started cooking, I didn’t bother with it either. If a recipe called for a clove of garlic, I knew how to get the equivalent out of the dry or wet garlic we had and I made do. Fortunately, I realized the error of my ways and started using fresh garlic as my involvement with cooking continued. I completely believe that every cook should keep at least one head of garlic in their kitchen or pantry at all times—it’s an essential ingredient in many Italian and Asian dishes and it can add a pop of flavor to many meals. Garlic is inexpensive, it’s easy to store (I have a little “garlic keeper” dish, but sometimes I just toss the heads in with the onions or the potatoes we keep in a bin in the pantry), and it’s really easy to use.
|The little porcelain garlic-lookalike dish is what I keep my garlic in at home|
Step 2: Place the flat side of your knife on top of the garlic clove (it doesn’t really matter if you do it on the flat or the round side of the clove—I do it both ways). Be very careful that you don’t let your hand slip and cut yourself! Press the knife down hard and rock it back and forth once or twice on the clove or slam the palm of your hand down onto the flat of the knife and push it down into the clove. You should be able to hear the skin of the clove crinkling as it opens up.
Additional note: After I posted this, my friend Tory commented that she likes to use the bottom of a can or glass to crush the clove, because placing your hand near the knife’s edge is a little intimidating (I agree!)—really, you just need a hard, flat surface to push against the clove to get the skin to break.
Step 3: Pull the peel from the clove. It’s not always going to come off in one clean piece, but you should be able to peel it off easily. The clove may remain whole, if you didn’t push into it too hard, or it many be a little crushed, but it’s fine either way and it’s ready to be minced, chopped, crushed, or sliced.