There are countless ways to prepare and enjoy garlic. They’re all delicious. They all smell fabulous. Except for what it does to your breath. But we’re going to see past that for now.
To me, it’s a foundational ingredient in the kitchen. It has a ton of uses and it’s so dang good. Apparently, it’s good for you too.
The biggest barrier to enjoying garlic in my opinion? Peeling and chopping it. And breathing it out after you eat it. Again, we’re moving past that part.
If you absolutely hate dealing with fresh cloves, I don’t blame you. I hope this trick makes you hate it less. But I’m obliged to tell you that you can also just buy pre-peeled garlic at the store. I do it all the time.
Personally, I used to hate peeling garlic. I found it messy, intimidating, annoying and time consuming. All not fun things.
Then I learned a trick to peel it quickly and easily. It completely changed my relationship with garlic and quite possibly cooking altogether.
After deciding I was going to pass this trick along to my readers, I got to thinking. What is garlic classified as in the cooking world?
What is garlic?
Is garlic a vegetable? Or is it an herb or a spice?
I genuinely had no clue until I started looking into it. I even posted an Instagram quiz that spurred a lot of conversation. Most people guessed it correctly, but there was a large number of people who didn’t.
Quite frankly, this excited me. What a fantastic opportunity for us to learn together. After all, this was the point of me starting The Flower Bungalow!
Upon my internet search, I quickly concluded that garlic is a vegetable. But what makes it a vegetable?
What is a vegetable?
I know this seems like a silly question to ask. But I was curious what the difference between a vegetable and herb was.
According to Merriam Webster, a vegetable is usually herbaceous plant (such as the cabbage, bean, or potato) grown for an edible part that is usually eaten as part of a meal.
To quote the article, “Strictly speaking, a vegetable is any edible part of an herbaceous plant, such as the roots, leaves, stems, and bulbs.” The head of garlic we purchase at the store is the bulb of the plant. So I was satisfied with this answer.
The article also points out that we tend to use it in the same way we do an herb or spice. So I can see why so many people guessed incorrectly on my quiz. Botanically, it’s in the same family as onions and shallots.
Apparently, there are many different types of garlic. I had no clue!
So, you might be wondering if garlic is good for you. It absolutely is good for you, but maybe not for your partner or spouse or anyone you come in close contact with. Which I’d like to remind you, should be no one right now.
I’m going to guess garlic breath is not conducive to mask-wearing either. I’ll go ahead and throw vampires into the mix. I hear they hate it too.
However, for us non-vampires, it does have many health benefits. I’m not an expert in nutrition, so I’m not going to act like I know what I’m talking about here. But I’m going to list other benefits including:
- Considered the best “honey I’m home” perfume
- Mastering the art of the peel makes you feel like the king of the castle
- Mental health benefits because it smells so damn good when you cook it
- Easiest way to make any savory dish taste better
- Again, it’s known to ward off the vampires in your life
All joking aside, go ahead and pick some up at every trip to the store. You can never go wrong having some lying around. If you find yourself with an abundance that you need to use, I’ve got another trick to share with you below.
Ways to use garlic
I can’t help but think of Bubba from Forrest Gump in this moment and how he lists all the ways to cook shrimp. Because garlic is very versatile too.
You can smash, mash, chop, mince, slice big, slice thin, roast, sweat, turn it into a paste, cook the whole cloves, roast the whole head, use a garlic press. You get my drift.
The trick I’m about to show you works better for when you want to achieve a smashed or chopped effect. Or if you just need to peel quickly before throwing it into a food processor or whatever. If you want to keep the clove intact and ever-so-thinly slice it, maybe skip this way of peeling.
Easiest peeling trick
First, grab a bigger knife like a chef’s knife or my favorite, the santoku knife. I typically pop cloves off of the head as I go. If a recipe calls for four cloves, then I pull my four cloves off and put the rest back in the basket.
I don’t often need to peel a whole head, but when I do, I have this little silicone cone from Crate and Barrel. You put the whole bulb in and roll it around and it will loosen all the cloves while keeping the peel mess confined.
To peel it quickly:
- Take a clove or two and place it on the counter or cutting board.
- Lay your knife flat on top of the cloves and push down with the palm of your hand.
- Separate the skin from the clove.
YOU CAN DO IT PUT YOUR BACK INTO IT!
Then you’ll have a nice little smashed clove. When you smash a clove, the skin loosens and it’s super easy to peel off. Then you can chop away. You can also place it in your food processor from here.
And my trick for saving an abundance of garlic? Chop it up and put it in ice cube trays with a little bit of olive oil and freeze.
I use these garlicky olive oil cubes all the time as I’m heating up a pan. I also pop one or two of them into my instant pot recipes. It’s the most convenient thing ever!
For the love of garlic
One thing was clear from my Instagram poll, people love garlic. Or at least the ones who answered my poll do. A lot of them said they hated peeling it too. Hopefully, this trick will make some feel differently!
There are many tricks out there though, so don’t be discouraged if this isn’t the magical solution you’re looking for. Find the method that works for you. And now that we’ll all be garlic-peeling masters, here are some popular things to make with garlic.
Garlic recipe ideas
- Rachel Ray’s garlic bread
- Garlic aioli from All Recipes
- Bobby Flay’s garlic butter recipe via Food Network
- Garlic butter sauce for pasta from Tara’s Multicultural Table
- Easy garlic knots from Damn Delicious
Well there you have it. My easy peeling trick. If you try it and love it, be sure to tag me on social media! Happy peeling friends!