How To: Peel Garlic
If you’re anything like me then you know the more garlic the better! I rarely, if ever, use the garlic that comes in a jar. The fresh stuff is so much better and adds so much more natural flavor. The challenging part comes when I need to peel my fresh garlic. Here are some super easy tips to make this process easier.
First and foremost, when you purchase your garlic from a grocer you’ll notice it comes in a bulb. This is called a head. It can be found in the produce section and does not require refrigeration. It has a round bottom and is pinched at the top. You often find them in packs of 3 or 5 bulbs. Bulbs are also sold separately as well.
Each bulb of garlic is approximately ten or twelve cloves. However, most recipes won’t tell you how many cloves of garlic to use. It’ll tell you how many teaspoons. A general rule of thumb is that each small clove of garlic yields about ½ teaspoon. This amount will need to be adjusted for larger bulbs.
Garlic heads come in a papery coating similar to that of an onion. Like peeling onions, peeling garlic can be tricky - especially if you don’t have long fingernails. Lucky for you I have a simple way to help speed up this process.
One of the easiest ways to remove the sheath covering the garlic clove is to use a chef’s knife or a santoku knife. A chef’s knife is the most common type of kitchen knife because it has so many uses. It has a broad blade that curves upward allowing for the rocking motion to mince and chop. A santoku knife is similar. It is the Japanese version of the chef’s knife. It is typically a bit shorter (great for people with smaller hands) and has less of a curve in the blade.
The reason you should use one of those types of blades compared to a paring knife, butter knife, etc. is that you’ll need one with a broad blade. The surface area of the blade is what is important. If you do not have either of these types of knives you can use a large spoon, or other piece of kitchen cutlery that is sturdy, thin, and wide.
What you will do, preferably with a chef’s knife, is place your garlic clove (with the sheath on) on your cutting board. Turn your knife sideways so you are looking at the side of it instead of the top. The sharp edge of the blade should be parallel to the cutting board. Place the side of the knife on top of the clove of garlic and apply pressure. You will want to really put some muscle behind it. You should feel the clove “smash” a bit beneath your knife. You can choose to do this motion slowly or quickly. Start by applying pressure slowly so as to not slice your hand on the sharp edge of the blade. Once you have perfected this movement you will be able to do it a bit more quickly.
Remove the knife and you should see that the clove of garlic has been flattened a bit, and in turn, the sheath has been separated from the clove itself. Now comes the easy part. Removing the outer shell of the garlic is now pretty simple. It should, if done correctly, be able to be removed in one whole piece. However, if the clove was smashed enough it may split into 2 or 3 pieces. Either way, it will be a lot easier than if you were to attempt to peel the casing off with your nails.
If you find that the shell of the bulb is not yet able to be removed then repeat the process and apply more pressure. You know it has been done correctly when you can feel the clove split beneath your knife.
You can disregard the shell and use that same knife to mince your garlic. Try adding a pinch of salt to the garlic so it won’t stick to the sides of the knife when you chop.