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Cuisines from Mediterranean to Asian use garlic to flavor savory dishes, but preparing the cloves can remain a fiddly chore until you learn some simple tricks for removing the papery skin.

Smash Peeling

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Pry the garlic cloves from the head and lay them flat on a chopping board.

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Lay the flat side of a heavy-bladed kitchen knife on each one and give a solid push with the heel of your hand. The pressure will burst the skin, which can then be easily removed in one piece.

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Slice off the tough tip on each clove where it attaches to the head.

Chef's Hack

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Strike a head of garlic with the heel of your hand to release the cloves.

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Gather the cloves and drop them into a large metal chef’s bowl.

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Take another large metal bowl, invert it and place it over the top of the bowl containing the garlic.

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Shake furiously for 10 to 15 seconds, taking care to keep a firm grip on the edges of the bowls.

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Return the bowls to the counter and remove the covering bowl. The garlic inside will have been peeled by striking on the sides of the bowls.

Mincing With Finesse

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Lay the peeled garlic on a chopping board, flat-side down. Plastic boards work better than wooden ones in this case, as they won't absorb the garlic juices.

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Remove any hard root tips that remain at either end.

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Slice the garlic clove along its length with a sharp knife, taking care to keep your fingertips vertical to avoid injury.

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Rotate the garlic clove 90 degrees and slice finely in the other direction.

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Sprinkle the chopped garlic with a pinch of salt to reduce stickiness and work the knife back and forth over the garlic until it is minced. The tip of the knife should remain in contact with the chopping board, allowing you to rock the blade and heel rhythmically.

Tip

Substituting a garlic press for a knife is a speedy way to mince the garlic, although the process is less tactile and satisfying and requires more cleaning to remove the compressed slivers. Drop the cloves into the open press and squeeze the handle closed. The handle will force minced garlic through the press’s holes.

Remove garlic odors from your hands by rinsing your fingers with lemon juice.

Warning

Use a sharp knife. Blunt knives tempt a cook to force the cutting and are more likely to lead to slippage and injury.

About the Author

Nick Marshall

Nick Marshall is a UK-based writer specializing in trends and best-practice in the B2B sector.