A fresh bulb of garlic is the starting point of countless savory recipes. From soups to pasta sauces to even roasted potatoes, garlic umps up the taste of your favorite dishes. Still, peeling garlic can be an annoying, sticky, and time-consuming mess. In fact, for some people, peeling garlic is the most difficult part of a recipe.
If you dread the thought of taking garlic peel off your cloves, chances are high that you’ve been doing it all wrong. This article will provide you with some simple ways to peel garlic cloves quickly and easily to make your life in the kitchen a bit easier.
What is Garlic
Garlic is a bulbous plant that grows underground. Each bulb is made up of multiple sections known as cloves. All the cloves are encased in layers of papery skin. While you can buy pre-peeled garlic cloves in a jar, or pre-minced garlic, nothing beats the flavor of fresh garlic. Taking your time to free these little but pungent cloves from their jackets can make all the difference in the flavor of so many dishes.
Thankfully, when done right, peeling a clove of garlic is quite a simple task. Plus, there are more than one right ways to peel off the skin of garlic. But before we get to peeling garlic the right way, you must first know how to choose good garlic.
How to Pick Good Garlic
Always choose fat bulbs with dry skin. Avoid any bulbs that look shriveled, feel soft, or have brown spots. Once home, store your fresh garlic bulbs in a wire mesh basket or open brown in a cool, dark place. Remember to never refrigerate whole heads of garlic, as this drastically shortens their shelf life. With good garlic in your pantry, here are a few ways to peel it.
How to Peel Garlic by Hand
If you do not have access to a knife, microwave, or pre-peeled garlic, you can use your own bare hands to peel garlic. This is an easy method for peeling garlic that is ideal for preparing small amounts of whole garlic.
Cut off the root end, and your garlic is ready to use.
- To peel fresh garlic, start by separating the cloves from the garlic bulb. Remove as many cloves as needed for your recipe and set them aside.
- Use a small paring knife to cut off the root end of each clove.
- Grab the garlic clove at each end and gently twist it. If done right, you should hear a snap as the skin break apart and separates from the clove.
- Working from the stem end, use your fingertips to peel away the skin.
This method is ideal for those who do not want to use a knife or any potential wound-inducing kitchen gadget. Plus, the clove remains unbruised. The main downside to this method is that you can only peel a few cloves at a time. Plus, it works best with long, thin cloves. So it might be harder if you’re working with short, plump cloves.
How to Peel Garlic by Smashing It
This is a classic and very satisfying technique for peeling fresh garlic that is popular amongst chefs across the world. Although this technique can be used to peel whole cloves, it works best if the root ends of the cloves are chopped off. This technique is ideal if you need some smashed whole cloves.
- Place the clove on the chopping board or a flat surface.
- Place the flat side of your broad-bladed knife over the clove. Ensure the sharp edge of the knife is facing away from you.
- Smash the knife with the heel of your hand. Do not smash too hard that the garlic clove is completely crushed. Just press hard enough to loosen the skin from the garlic.
- Peel and discard the skin.
- Use a knife to cut the remaining root off the garlic clove.
- Your garlic is now ready for chopping or mincing.
This technique achieves the triple effect of crushing the garlic, separating the skin, and relieving the unwanted tension.
Caution: If you do not want the clove completely rushed or are not comfortable with punching a sharp knife, this may not be the technique for you.
This method provides an effective way to peel garlic quickly. The only downside is that you can use this technique to peel just a few cloves. Otherwise, it becomes a long and tedious procedure quickly. This method also crushes the garlic, which s not ideal if you plan to use them whole.
Cut the Garlic Bulbs in Half
Here is another effective way to peel whole bulbs of garlic in one go. This method is ideal for those who do not mind their cloves being sliced in half. Also, it is great if you plan on mincing, chopping, or slicing your cloves after peeling.
- Chop your bulb of garlic in half at the equator or the diameter of the cloves
- Next, place each half with the freshly cut part facing the cutting board
- Use the flat side of your broad knife over the bulb
- Firmly smash down onto the garlic with the palm of your hand
- This should release the skin from your cloves
- Simply lift off the skin from your cloves
This method is great for those looking to peel multiple heads of garlic in one go and do not mind them being cut in half. Note, however, that this method requires a substantial amount of force to release the skin from the cloves.
The Mason Jar Method or Shaking Method
This technique is ideal for peeling large amounts of garlic. To peel your garlic cloves with this trick, you need a container that you can cover. This can be anything from a jar, two bowls, a cutting board, or a saucepan.
- Break apart your head of garlic and cut off the root end with a knife
- Whatever your container, put in the cloves you want to peel and cover.
- Ensure the container you’re using is substantially bigger than the amount of garlic want to peel. This gives the cloves of garlic plenty of room and surface to shake and bump.
- Shake the container for about 30 seconds. Shake vigorously to create friction. The friction and slight bruising of the garlic will cause the peel to loosen and come off.
- Pour the cloves onto your worktop.
- On first inspection, your garlic cloves should appear naked in the shreds of their former skin.
- If there are stubborn cloves, put them back in the container and repeat.
This method requires no technique or equipment. The only downside is that it can get a bit loud especially when using two metal bowls. Nevertheless, this is a great method for peeling many cloves.
The Microwave Method
Other than being an undeniably convenient way to heat food fast and make popcorn, microwaves are also a pretty convenient way to peel garlic. It provides an ideal for peeling an entire head of garlic in a matter of seconds. Plus, you do not have to use any sharp object or extra aggression. Actually, there are a few ways you can use a microwave to quickly peel garlic.
This method is ideal for peeling whole heads of garlic
- Remove any excess papery skin from the head
- Take a thin slice of the top off to reveal the cloves
- transfer the whole head to a microwave-safe container and put it in the microwave.
- Heat it up for 20 seconds
- let the head cool until you can easily handle it
- pick up each clove and pop out the skin like you’re removing a jacket.
This step involves the use of a damp paper towel
- Wrap the whole garlic bulb or individual cloves inside a damp paper towel
- Put in microwave for about 20 seconds.
- When the time is up, take them out of the microwave and let them cool.
- Lightly rub the cloves against the paper towel. The skin should come off easily.
This method involves the use of water
- Put your garlic cloves in a microwave-safe bowl along
- Pour in some cold water
- Microwave for 30-60 seconds
- The garlic skin should be able to peel off easily afterward
This garlic peeling method is quite effective and easy to do. It works for one clove to hundreds. Note, however, that there are a couple of downsides to using this method. But the most common is that microwaving garlic is essentially cooking it. This can reduce the pungency of your garlic.
How to Peel Garlic Using a Paring Knife
This is another popular garlic peeling method. for this method, you will need a sharp paring knife
- Hold a whole garlic head in your hands with the root side up
- Using a sharp knife, pierce into a clove near the curved outer part
- Firmly but carefully twist the knife. This will loosen the clove where it is attached to the bulb’s root
- Gently shake the clove until you free it from its skin
- The clove should emerge from the head skin-free
After removing the first clove, you should find it easier to unpeel the other cloves.
This garlic peeling method takes time to master. Just take your time to practice and learn the tricks to make it work for you.
A Silicone Garlic Peeler
This must-have garlic peeler is a simple cylinder made of silicone. This kitchen gadget instantly peels garlic removing all the fuss and mess that comes with peeling garlic.
- Place a single clove of garlic into the cylinder
- Roll the peeler back and forth on the table
- In a short time, your cloves should be freed from their skin
It is safe to say that this is one of the easiest and quickest ways to peel garlic. The only downside to this gadget is that it wears off pretty quickly and can only peel a couple of cloves at a time.
The Warm Water Method
Soaking garlic cloves in a bowl of warm water makes the papery skin swell, allowing you to slide the skin right off with your knife or even fingers. Just put the cloves into warm water for about 30 minutes or more before you start using them.
- Start by separating the head of garlic into individual cloves.
- Put them in a small bowl and run warm water over the cloves.
- Using a metal whisk, vigorously stir them.
- The hot water will soften the garlic skin while the stirring will loosen it.
- Now you can easily peel off the skin with a paring knife.
This is an easy way to peel garlic cloves but requires forethought. If you need to use them immediately, you can hot water.
The Blanching Method
You can also peel garlic with water by blanching.
- Put your unpeeled garlic cloves in boiling water
- Let them sit in the water for a minute.
- Drain the water and let the cloves cool.
- Once cooled, the garlic skin should be easy to remove.
This method is excellent, especially if you are using many cloves and need to keep them whole for presentation. Consider leaving the cloves in the water, only taking them out one at a time. This way, if there are any stubborn cloves, they get the benefit of extra soaking time.
Outsource the Peeling
When all else fails, you can get someone else to do the peeling for you. You can also purchase pre-peeled garlic.
What to Do With Garlic Peels
Like many people, you probably discard garlic’s paper-like skin as soon as you are done peeling. But did you know garlic skin is something you can cook with and derive a lot of flavor out of? In addition, garlic skin has many health benefits. It contains a lot of vitamin A and C as well as anti-inflammatory phenylpropanoid antioxidants.
We highly recommend it for dishes or sauces that you’re going to strain. If you are mincing or chopping the garlic, put the garlic skin in a ziptop bag and freeze it. You can use it the next time you’re making stock.
How to Store Peeled Garlic
Peeled cloves can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3-5 days. Always check for signs of spoilage before use. For longer storage, spread the peeled garlic cloves on a sheet pan and freeze for an hour. Transfer the frozen garlic cloves to an airtight container for up to 6 months.
Note: freezing garlic can change the texture of the garlic.
So there you have it. No more struggling to peel garlic. Just choose any one of the handy methods mentioned herein and give one a try the next time you’re tasked with peeling a clove of garlic. Even better, try them all until you find the one that works best for you.
People Also Ask
How Do You Peel Garlic Quickly Hacks?
- To easily remove the skin from the garlic cloves, place them in a shallow bowl and use your palm to press down on them.
- Use an oven mitt or kitchen towel to hold the garlic as you gently hit it a few times with the flat side of a knife.
- Try to remove as much of the paper-like skin as you can.
- To easily remove the skin, soak the garlic in warm water for 10 minutes before using your fingers to peel off the remaining skin.
- To quickly peel multiple garlic cloves, use a Garlic Peeler. This is a small silicone tube that you put the garlic into and twist, which helps to swiftly remove the skin.
How Do You Peel Garlic Like a Chef?
To quickly peel garlic, chefs use a technique called smacking. First, separate the garlic head into cloves. Next, place a clove on a cutting board and cover it with a kitchen towel. Firmly press down on the clove with the flat side of a knife to crack the skin, and remove as much of the paper as possible. Soak the garlic in warm water for 10 minutes, and you should be able to easily remove the remaining skin with your fingers.
Do You Have to Peel Fresh Garlic?
Peeling fresh garlic is a must before using it to get the best flavor and benefits. You can use the methods mentioned above for an effortless peeling experience. If you don’t have the time or energy to peel it yourself, you can buy pre-peeled garlic.