Crushed garlic to cloves

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Many home cooks will agree that fresh garlic is a must-have item when it comes to ingredients one should always keep around the kitchen.

What people can’t always agree on, however, is the best way to peel and chop it.

Chef Michael Goralski, the executive chef at the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole, peels and chops more garlic in a week than most people do in a year — and maybe even a lifetime.

During his restaurant’s busiest seasons, he easily goes through a gallon of garlic bulbs a day.

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Whether Goralski is cooking for guests expecting top-notch service or simply cooking for his family at home, he still approaches garlic the same way.

Here are his top tips for peeling and chopping the ingredient that’s lovingly known as the “stinking rose.”

Is it ever OK to buy pre-chopped garlic?

A lot of people try to avoid the hassle of peeling and chopping up a whole bulb, but if you want your dish to be as delicious as it possibly can be, avoid the prepped stuff that you find at most grocery stores. According to Goralski, buying pre-chopped garlic in a jar is a shortcut that just isn’t worth it.

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Not only is it cheaper to buy garlic in bulbs, but it’s also the best way to ensure freshness. Some chopped garlic also has salt or other additives to help it maintain its color in the jar. Both of these things may affect the final flavor of your dish, resulting in a subpar dining experience.

When shopping for garlic, seek out bulbs that are firm with tight skin. The color of the garlic doesn’t matter as long as the bulbs have unbroken skin. Avoid any that feel soft or moist. If you’re going to use the garlic within a month, it’s perfectly fine to buy in bulk. “If properly stored, garlic bulbs can last a few weeks,” says Goralski. If you don’t use garlic that often, however, just buy what you need.

How to peel garlic

Becky Jackson

Goralski’s top tip for peeling garlic is to use the “Mason way” — a method he learned from a friend who isn’t a professional chef. First, press the garlic bulbs down on a cutting board to loosen the cloves. You can use the heel of your hand or the flat edge of a large knife. Place the loosened cloves in a Mason jar, close the lid and vigorously shake for 20-30 seconds. “This pulls the skins away from the clove and keeps the garlic shape,” explained Goralski.

Martha Stewart employs a similar technique, but she prefers to use two metal bowls instead of a jar to shake the garlic cloves loose from their skins.

Goralski also noted that using a peeling tube is another fast and relatively clean way to peel garlic without compromising the shape of the cloves. These tubes cost anywhere from $3 to $8 and are dishwasher safe. In 2017, actress Kristen Bell told TODAY that her garlic peeler was the real MVP in her kitchen and used it as part of one of her favorite entertaining hacks.

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Head of Garlic Chicken Thighs

Valerie Bertinelli

One method Goralski definitely does not recommend is using the microwave (or any heat source) to peel garlic since it actually starts cooking the cloves and may compromise the flavor of your final dish.

“I don’t use any heating method because it’s not a necessity,” explained the chef.

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However you decide to peel garlic, just don’t get frustrated. Do always take the time to make sure the flaky skins are totally removed from cloves. If you don’t, said the chef, your dinner guests may wind up with an unwelcome texture in their mouths.

How to chop garlic

Before you get chopping, grab a clean cutting board and a chef’s knife.

Grab one clove at a time and start by slicing individual cloves into rounds. Then gather the slices together and rock the knife back and forth until you achieve the desired size chop. If a garlic puree is preferred, simply place a whole clove into a garlic press, press down and scrape off the pulverized garlic mash.

If you’re not using the chopped garlic immediately, store it in the fridge in a container with enough olive oil to cover the garlic. The oil will keep it fresh longer.

Slicing garlic? Make sure to keep the clove steady while using a sharp knife. Getty Images

When he needs a more finely chopped garlic, Goralski uses a food processor. He adds a touch of olive oil and then pulses his cloves until they are the desired size. If you don’t wan’t to set up the food processor, maybe consider investing in a garlic crusher. Taylor Swift calls hers a “game-changer.”

And if you’re worried about your cutting board reeking of garlic afterward, Goralski recommends rubbing it with half an apple or half a potato after washing it to soak up the sulfuric smell.

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What’s the Difference Between Fresh Garlic, Jarred Garlic, Garlic Powder, and Garlic Salt?

In my cooking, garlic is as necessary as salt, pepper, and oil. It is essential, a critical element in the alchemy of making food. But not all garlic is created equal; though substituting jarred for fresh or salt for powder may feel like a harmless shortcut in the moment, it can hurt you in the long run.

Each form of garlic has its own purpose. Some forms, like garlic powder or salt, or even jarred garlic, triumph in convenience. Their flavor will never compare to fresh garlic, but that doesn’t mean they lack in benefits or potential. For the ultimate garlic experience, here’s what you need to know:

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Fresh Garlic vs. Jarred Garlic

The difference here is pretty straightforward: One comes in a jar, already chopped for you, while the other is a clump of cloves you’ve got to peel and mince or slice up yourself. And unless you prefer your garlic with substantially less flavor, fresh garlic always tastes better.

In addition to a bolder aromatic appeal, fresh garlic also has a hint of heat, particularly when it’s raw. Many stores also carry cloves that have already been peeled, which are also convenient but don’t last long. Chopped garlic, minced garlic, and crushed garlic all distribute flavor in different ways. The best method to use all depends on how quickly you need to release garlic’s flavor. If you’re looking for a milder flavor that’ll release over time, go for chopped garlic. For something more intense and immediate, like a marinade, mince it or crush it with a garlic press. Some recipes, like Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic, don’t want you chopping or mincing that garlic at all.

However, mincing garlic by hand or with a garlic press doesn’t work for everyone, whether it’s physically or they’re just crunched for time. In that sense, jarred garlic is a godsend. Jarred garlic also lasts much longer than freshly minced or chopped garlic. (In the grand scheme of things, 18 months beats 10 days, especially if you don’t constantly use garlic. Fresh garlic won’t even last that long if you’re storing it incorrectly.) However, you pay for that convenience with a far less pronounced taste.

If you’re substituting jarred garlic in a recipe, the generally accepted rule of thumb is to use ½ teaspoon for every clove called for. But if you want a little more flavor, feel free to up that amount. To strike a happy medium of taste and convenience, make your own jarred garlic by pulsing peeled cloves in a food processor and bottling it up with a little olive oil. You can even store it in a recycled garlic jar. Or, you can opt for frozen garlic, like these cubes from Trader Joe’s. If you need a mincing method that’s easier on your hands, try using a vegetable chopper.

Fresh Garlic vs. Garlic Powder

Garlic powder, which is made from ground and dried garlic bulbs, has more advantages than the obvious convenience factor. If garlic isn’t the star of your dish (Think soups, stews, and sauces, or dry rubs for meat or vegetables), then garlic powder is a sufficient option in a pinch. It’s also ideal in foods where you want garlicky flavor dispersed more widely, like in meatloaf or French Dip Pizza, or in applications you’re trying to keep added moisture down, such as a creamy dip. That being said, although they share ingredients, garlic powder and fresh garlic have strikingly different flavors. When you really want to impart the vibrant and aromatic essence of garlic, you’ll need to go fresh. However, if you’re low on time or the fresh stuff, half a teaspoon of garlic powder is the rough equivalent of one fresh clove.

Garlic Powder vs. Garlic Salt

Lastly, we have garlic salt, which is only identical to garlic powder in appearance. Garlic salt is a mixture of garlic powder and table salt, making it a seasoning salt rather than a pure, dry seasoning. That also means the garlic flavor is diluted. (However, that doesn’t make garlic salt a bad thing!) If you prefer a milder flavor or just don’t have any other forms of garlic, it’s okay to use garlic salt instead of powder: just know that garlic salt and garlic powder aren’t interchangeable, and that you’ll need to hold back on any additional salt the recipe calls for.