View Full Version : Garlic 101 Primer

Steve Petrone
11-18-2007, 04:14 PM
I need garlic info....

Best way to buy?

I do not like my local grocer's one head at a time....some of those jars look like they are as old as me.

I purchased a couple of bags of heads of garlic from Costco...they're ok.

Since I am using more garlic...I usually
de-clove a whole head. Each clove gets a squeeze and twist to remove dry skin. Then I trim the stem end off and out of habit, I usually trim the point end off too.

Using this method takes time. I am eyeing that quart jug of cleaned cloves in the refer.
Am I headed down the wrong path?

Chefs and cooks please advise...Thanks.

Steve Petrone
11-18-2007, 04:35 PM
This was brought up earlier by me...Kevin mentioned to check for preservatives...and avoid the chopped stuf in jars....

Any comments on the cleaning technique?

Shawn W
11-18-2007, 04:40 PM
I get fresh stuff from the farmers market in season as I can. I look for the bulbs nicely sealed up with stems a few inches long. The 'fresh' bulbs in the store usually have the stems cut off too short and they don't keep quite as well.

Second choice is hand picked bulbs from the bulk garlic at the store. Again, look for nicely sealed up, no mold and doesn't look old or dry. I usually avoid the bags and pick what I want. If everything looks iffy I have no qualms with breaking bulbs open and just taking what I need for the moment.

Minced garlic in a jar: I used it for years ... it's certainly convenient, I don't find it horrible but fresh seems so much nicer. The jarred stuff has preservatives and kind of tastes old and preserved. One I've been meaning to try is the frozen cubes of fresh garlic. I don't always mince my garlic, sometimes I slice it thin which is another advantage of fresh. Jarred is best saved for cooking for the multitudes and as an emergency stash IMO.

I keep my garlic in a clay container (garlic keeper ... loose lid and a couple small airholes on the sides) on the counter and keep up to a couple of weeks worth on hand at a time.

Prep: I start with cutting the stem end off a clove. This often is enough to pop the skin off. If it doesn't then I nip the tip off.

Dino Harris
11-21-2007, 04:18 AM
I just bought a jar of the Spice World prepeeled and clean garlic. It has no ingredients listed on the jar except garlic. It is very handy and I do like it better than the minced jar variety. I still think the bulbs and cloves you have to peel have a nicer flavor. I will keep buying them for their convienence however.

Garlic presses.....anyone use them? I want to think that I read somewhere that they can make garlic more bitter. Stated that it was better to smash with your chef's knife and mince or chop.

K Kruger
11-21-2007, 05:50 AM
Presses don't make garlic more bitter. Their action, like crushing with a knife, ruptures the cell walls in the garlic. This releases the enzyme allinase and this is what makes garlic full-flavored. If you want a less full flavor just chop it with a knife.

Garlic gets bitter if allowed to brown when sauteing. Let it color but don't brown it. (For toasted garlic use larger pieces--a fine chop--and fry quickly till crisp then drain and cool.)

Bitterness is often noted in fresh garlic that is starting to sprout or about to start to sprout. The green shoot and/or the interior portion of the clove that is green (pre-sprout stage) is often noticeably bitter.

I use fresh garlic exclusively. Using a good press one doesn't even need to peel it first.

Just pulled a pot of garlic soup off the stove to cool. It's the Thanksgiving opener every year.

Mike Resler
11-21-2007, 08:37 AM
Kevin, any chance of posting and sharing your recipe for your garlic soup?

11-21-2007, 09:18 AM
Using a good press one doesn't even need to peel it first

The problem is finding a good press. The best I've ever used was a tube and plunger (for lack of a better description) you could load several cloves at one time. The plunger was attached to a plastic threaded rod with a T handle at the top. It did a great job crushing the garlic.

Rita Y
11-23-2007, 03:55 PM
Cookís Illustrated did an update in January 2007 to their previous review that liked the Zyliss Jumbo garlic press. But they found that the nonstick coating was peeling on the Zyliss. I havenít had a problem with mine and Iíve had it for at least 5 years.

Here is a portion of CIís review:

ďSo which press is the best? Kuhn Rikonís Epicurean Garlic Press ($34.95) was the top performer, producing fine, uniform garlic with minimal effort. Made of solidly constructed stainless steel, it has a luxurious feel, with curved handles that are comfortable to squeeze and a hopper that smoothly and automatically lifts out for cleaning as you open the handles. However, at nearly $35, itís costly. At one-third the price, we found the chrome-plated Trudeau Garlic Press produced uniform pieces of garlic, had a generous hopper, and was easy to clean. Itís our Best Buy.

The Case of the Peeling Press
When we first noticed that the coating had peeled off in patches on all of the Zyliss garlic presses in the test kitchen, we didnít worry. Recently, however, we noted that a tiny amount of black substance sometimes oozes onto our garlic as we press it. After some digging, we discovered that when the nonstick coating peels off, copper and iron in the aluminum base metal react with the air and sulfur compounds in the garlic to create oxides and sulfides, which we sometimes see as a black substance on our extruded garlic. Itís similar to the discoloration from an old-fashioned carbon steel knife, and itís not toxic, according to science experts we spoke to. Patrice Gerber, director of product development international at Zyliss USA, concedes, ďIt doesnít look nice, for sure, but itís not dangerous.Ē He said some peeling is normal inside the hopper, where the plunger ďscratches against the basket.Ē It might be normal, but itís not very appealing.Ē

Now Cook's Illustrated likes the Kuhn-Rikon (of pressure cooker fame) Epicurean garlic press, and I see that Fine Cooking magazine also rates it #1. I havenít found it in retail stores, but it might be out there, but it can be ordered from the Kuhn-Rikon site. A bit pricey, but itís something many of us use every day. Also, there is a strong probability that it is made in Switzerland, not the country that is trying to poison us.



Edit: Here it is at Amazon, clicked through TVWB (long URL, will wrap -- following is the tiny URL of the page):

http://www.amazon.com/Kuhn-Rikon-Epicurean-Garlic-Press...id=1195866235&sr=8-1 (http://www.amazon.com/Kuhn-Rikon-Epicurean-Garlic-Press/dp/B0000CD0HX/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1195866235&sr=8-1)


K Kruger
11-26-2007, 09:19 AM
I use a Kuhn and have probably since they started making them. The have a couple less expensive models but they are not the same.


I have been making this soup for over 30 years. It is by far the most popular of the hundreds I make. It was always the most requested soup in any restaurant i did it in.

I liketo serve it 20-40 minutes before dinners will be served, in coffee mugs with a spoon. (Though the potato and cream give it body it is a thin soup.) That way guests can mill around the house or property while eating it. It is also great on a chilly Sunday late afternoon, on the porch, with a glass of dry sherry alongside.

12 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed

3/4 stick unsalted butter

1/2 c minced fresh parsley leaves (leaves only!--do not use dried)

6 c homemade chicken stock (or use a quality store-bought)

1 scant T minced fresh rosemary (do not use dried)

1.5 t minced fresh thyme leaves (or 1 t dried)

1 large russet potato, peeled and diced

1 c heavy cream (I don't recommend light cream nor half-and-half for this)

a turn or two of the white peppermill

1/2 c freshly grated imported parm or asiago

In a medium soup pot over low heat melt the butter. Add the garlic and turn the heat to very low*. Allow the garlic to sweat, stirring occasionally, 15-20 minutes, then add the parsley. Continue to sweat another 5-10 minutes.

Add the rosemary, thyme and chicken stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the diced potato. Cook at a strong simmer, partially covered, till the potato is very tender. Puree well using a handblender or a conventional blender, returning the soup to the pot. Add a little freshly ground white pepper and the heavy cream. Heat till hot then serve, topping each portion with some of the grated cheese.

* The problem many make with this soup is cooking the garlic too fast and/or allowing it to brown. The garlic needs to cook very slowly so that it gives up its moisture (sweats), cooks through, but does not brwon. This allows it to sweeten nicely.

If your low is not low enough either use a flame tamer or slide your pot so that it is half off the burner and place scrape the garlic-butter mix over to the cooler side of the pot. Stir periodically and, if necessary, move the pot on and off the burner so the heat doesn't go too low. The barest sizzle--if any--tops.

Dino Harris
11-26-2007, 11:30 AM
Thanks, and another item on my Santa wish list.

Steve Petrone
06-04-2008, 05:39 PM
More on garlic. I recently purchased the large jug of fresh cleaned cloves from costco. Good stuff. It is difficult to use it all tho before it starts to go. I tried freezing some....yuk! Is there a good way to make use of all these cloves...Perhaps the best thing to do do is make a quart of garlic olive oil. I only wonder how long it would last? I have been making it by putting a large handful of garlic in a corning dish, covering with a 1/2 inch of olive oil and baking at 325-350 for about 30 minutes. Are all the bad bugs killed? Safe to keep for how long?

Steve Petrone
06-04-2008, 05:44 PM
Found an old thread. KK said to freeze garlic in a media such as buttermik for salad dressing, stock or butter. I was not satisfied with freezing whole cloves by themselves.

K Kruger
06-04-2008, 07:38 PM
If the garlic is not acidified then, after heating it in the oil at temps >250F for a period of time, the mixture should be safe. However, because of heating the shelf life (quality-wise, especially) is shortened because of the increased likelihood of earlier rancidification. Cool, then store in the fridge (at least the portion you are not likely to consume in the following few days). Nothing should be introduced to the mixture after it has heated.

Making compound butter with garlic is tried and true--and it freezes very well. The buttermilk trick is very good for dressing bases. The stock trick good for sauces or marinades.

Steve Petrone
06-06-2008, 12:48 AM
Kevin thanks for your clarification.

When making compound butter, do you just mince garlic and add to butter and freeze? Buttermilk the same? For stock, I assume you simmer.

I do enjoy garlic but those huge jugs are hard to finnish.

K Kruger
06-06-2008, 06:56 AM
That's why I buy whole fresh heads and just peel when I need them. For some things, espeecially Mex cooked salsas, I toast the cloves in a dry pan, unpeeled, till the peel is scorched, flipping often, then peel and use. This is a typical approach.

Anyway, yes, mince the garlic then fold into softened (not melted) butter. Return to the fidge, if necessary, to firm just a bit then fashion into a log about 1.5-2" in diameter--of any length. Wrap in parchment or plastic (I wrap in parchment then plastic) and freeze. For use, unroll, cut off as much as you want, re-roll and return to the freezer.

For buttermilk you can go either way. You can blend fresh minced with the milk then freeze or you can simmer minced, chopped or sliced for about 5-10 min--just a slow simmer--cool, then freeze. Thaw first then shake very well before use.

Ditto for the stock.

Note: For the compound butter you can mix in other things. E.g., you can make 2 or 3 or 4 different versions at the same time and freeze separately. Shreds of basil or minced fresh thyme, sage or parsley leaves; lemon, lime or other citrus zests; a little reduced white wine or dry sherry; plus salt and pepper and any other seasonings you wish--you can make these different compound butters and then just slice a disk or two off for an immediate sauce. Grill fish fillets--or steaks or a pile of asparagus spears--then top with the butter disks right off the grill.

If you would like the garlic in the compound butter to be less bite-y, simmer the cloves in water or milk for about 10 min first; remove and allow to cook, mash into a paste, then mix with your softened butter and other seasonings, form into logs, etc.

Chris Notarpole
06-06-2008, 07:29 AM
A few thoughts and suggestions:
I use alot of garlic since I am Korean. If you are going to chop your garlic anyways after you peel it, then don't peal it and just crush it under a chefs knife. This releases the skin and makes it easier to chop.

Getting the garlic smell off your hands....rub any stainless steel on your hands after you have finished handling the garlic. I always soap my hands and then use the ridge end of my knife gliding it across my hands (use a spoon if you are scared of cutting yourself). The smell is gone! Wasn't sure if you guys knew this or not.