Two Super Easy and Fast Ways To Peel Garlic
Learning a few kitchen basics and tricks can mean everything from time saved, a better meal cooked, and confidence for the home cook. Several years ago when I made the jump from complete kitchen avoidance to novice, I made sure that along the way I picked up knowledge that would keep me interested and gave me confidence — or at least gave the impression that I knew what I was doing.
It might seem silly to some but back in my early culinary days peeling garlic is something I tried to avoid. Whenever I could I would substitute granulated garlic for fresh. But as many of you know the results aren’t always the same and fresh garlic can really transform a dish to a new level. So I gave in and kept on trying to find ways of removing that annoying skin covering from each individual clove of garlic. It wasn’t always pretty but alas I found two super easy and fast ways to peel garlic. Today I want to share them with you in hopes that they’ll save you time in the kitchen.
The first thing I learned is to never, ever rinse the cloves nor attempt to peel them with wet or damp hands. This only makes the skin stick to your fingers and the garlic which will make it nearly impossible to peel. You can rinse the cloves after they have been peeled if desired. The second thing I learned is that the fresher the bulb the damper the skin and the more it will stick to the cloves. So if you can allow the skin to dry out a bit longer before using.
I like to cut off the bottom of each clove as you see in the photos above. I feel that this makes the process easier and also it is a segment I cut away after peeling anyways. So first cutoff that part.
On the left side photo you’ll see that part of the skin has already begun to come off, but we are going to help it a bit further. Next lay the flat side of your knife on top of the garlic clove. Gently but firm press down until it flattens, like in the right side photo.
Now simply pick up the crushed garlic clove and remove the skin, it will slide right off. Since we crushed the garlic it can now be chopped, sliced or minced as desired.
Sometimes I use the large pieces as they are after crushing and removing the skin. Other times I’ll roughly chopped or finely mince. It’s up to you and what the recipe requires.
The second technique also begins by chopping off that little bottom part of the garlic clove. Again, it’s optional but I like to do it.
For this technique you’ll need a garlic press or crusher. Simply put the garlic clove with the skin still attached inside the press and squeeze until you see it come out the little holes. Be careful because the garlic juice can squirt out.
Now open the press and remove the remaining skin from inside. See it comes out in one piece!
You can open or separate the skin and see that nearly all of the garlic has been squeezed out. If there are any remaining pieces just remove it and continue with the remaining garlic cloves.
There you have it, two super easy and fast ways to peel and mince garlic. In the photo above the top minced garlic is the one from the press, a smaller clove was used than the one done with the knife technique, and the bottom is the one done with the knife. I don’t prefer one to the other, it really depends on how much time I have and if I want to wash an additional tool. Both techniques are great and will surely save you more time than trying to peel every clove using your finger nails. If you are sensitive to garlic then I suggest you wear kitchen gloves. And if you want to take away the garlicky smell from your finger rub them with a little bit of lemon juice to tone down the scent.
How about you, what is your favorite way of peeling garlic?
Nancy Lopez is a food blogger and author of the cookbook Mexican Tamales Made Meatless. Born in Mexico, raised in the US, and currently living in Southern Mexico, she has followed a meatless diet for almost 10 years. It is her passion and mission to share all she has learned about vegan Mexican cooking and vegetarian Mexican recipes. Mexican Made Meatless is a blog dedicated to preserving the authentic flavors of Mexican cuisine just without the meat. It’s a place to celebrate Mexican culture and all it’s delightfully delicious traditional foods. Read more…
Great tips! It is also easier to peel the garlic if the skin is humid/wet (warm water bath)…
Thank you Rosa! I haven’t tried that technique.
I always cut off that end also:) i saw something interesting on a chef contest show in QC recently.. he put his cloves in a coved aluminium bowl and shook them..they all came out perfect..have not tried yet!
Really, great minds!:) That sounds interesting so I’ll have to look it up. Thanks Monique.
Thanks for the tips, Nancy. I have a garlic press which I hardly use…cutting is easier.
I too prefer the cutting method.
I use both techniques you use, too, but sometimes if the skins are loose I may just pull them off.
Yes, it’s great when you can do that and save some time.
A very clear explanation! You know, this is one of those things that are ‘tacit’ knowledge and are hard to explain to someone who has no experience in using garlic…
I’m a great fan of all things garlic:-)
In my cooking, I usually use the press; but if I’m in a friend’s house and there is no press, I use the knife as you demonstrated.
All the best!
Thanks, glad to hear it!:)
Wow, I feel so stupid right now–I have a garlic press, but I always peel the garlic first! So all this time I could have been saving myself that step. Thank you!
No, you shouldn’t Kiersten.:)
Thanks for the great tips on peeling garlic. I recently bought a whole bunch pre peeled and attempted to freeze them. We’ll see if it is a good idea too.
Wow, I had no idea you could buy it pre-peeled. Good luck and I hope you share what happens.
Great tips, peeling garlic is one of my least favorite kitchen tasks ;).
Hehe, I think it is for many.:)
G’day Nancy and great hints and tips and love your photos today, true!
I recently got loaned a Thermomix, it peels about 40 gloves of garlic in seconds…so HOW excited was I and did not permeate to my hands too!
Other than that, I have recently learned via Cook Silvia Hart form South Australia to re-use garlic peels, top with oil in a glass jar for garlic infused oil, minimizing food wastage…
Wow, I have to look into that Thermomix — sounds great! Thanks for sharing the tip about the garlic peels, I had no idea.:)
Great tip, I love peeling garlic by going at it with a knife , now my teen follow me and goes at it exactly like me..it scares me so much.
I would be nervous too, but I’m sure you’re there to keep an eye on things. Thanks Ash!:)
I usually use the first method of peeling garlic. However, my Mum always used to soak the garlic cloves in water for a few minutes and then peeling them would so easy peasy! 🙂
You know I always had a difficult time peeling them once they are wet. I’m going to have to try your Mum’s and Rosa’s method soon. Thanks for sharing!:)
You make every image look so beautiful!
I never knew that learning to chop garlic could look so arty and clever. Great story too 🙂
Thank so much Julie:)
I learned the ‘smack hard with knife’ trick from my husband 🙂 But I still pop over your blog just to fill up my senses with your warm, glowing, gorgeous photos.
Who wouldn’t stare at those lovely shots?
Thank you Nusrat! Your work is gorgeous and it’s a treat stopping by your space too.:)
Great tips, I once saw a similar demonstration on the Food Network and it is so helpful!
Thank you Meghan!
I always use your first method – works like a charm. Don’t normally cut off that tip until the end, though – I should try your method. Thanks!
It really does, doesn’t it? Thanks John!
You don’t have to be gentle…. Just give it a good whack, either with the flat of a knife or the heel of your hand. If you want it crushed further, whack it again. If it has a green center you should pull that out – it’s starting to sprout and sometimes can be bitter.
Yeah, it’s good for releasing stress isn’t it?:) Thanks for mentioning the green center as I forgot to.
I rather use the knife, in spite of buying different gadgets for garlic I still use the knife…less stuff to wash 🙂
Thanks for the tips Nancy and have a great weekend ahead!
Hehe, that’s the reason the knife wins over in my kitchen too. Thanks Juliana and you too have a lovely weekend.:)
Thank you for two versions. I hate peeling garlic. I am so lazy about it and I use it so much. Love your ceramic knife too. 🙂
My pleasure, thanks Ramona!
There is definitely nothing better than fresh garlic. I’ve always used method 1 and it works great! Great post!
Couldn’t agree more, MJ! Thanks:)