For many people, garlic is an essential addition to most recipes: it works as a tasty food seasoning both in its fresh and dried versions (even if the first is much better). If you didn't know, this bulbous plant comes from the same family of onions and leeks. Despite its tangy flavor when raw, it becomes mild and sweet when sauteed. Plus, it provides you with several health benefits too.
If you are like most people, you might rarely have the time to spend much effort cooking for yourself (or your family). You might have considered buying pre-minced or dried garlic to save yourself some precious time. Please, resist that urge! Freshly cut garlic tastes much better. Also, using powder garlic will make you lose most of the benefits this ingredient can bring to your meal in terms of nutrients and vitamins. To learn how to take your chef's skills to the next level, you must learn how to peel it, chop it, and mince it. The good news is that in this "how to cut garlic" guide, you'll find everything you need to add the best flavors to your dishes.
What's the best way to cut garlic?
Learning how to cut garlic properly only takes practice and some patience. This ingredient is smaller than most stuff you may be familiar with, so you might want to improve your skills with knives.
You can either mince or slice a garlic clove, and despite what you may be thinking, there is a difference between the two methods. Minced garlic will enhance the plant's natural flavor in your dish, as it is smaller and finer. However, it takes slightly more advanced kitchen skills to do it the right way.
The best way to cut garlic is to keep it simple (and avoid harming yourself). With some practice, you'll learn how to position your fingers onto the cloves. However, that is often easier said than done. Make sure you read the next section to find out our recommendations on cutting garlic in a couple of simple steps. Trust us: once you get the hang of chopping, slicing, and mincing, you'll be adding this flavorful seasoning to all your dishes!
6 Steps to cut garlic
- Start by loosening the garlic cloves by pressing down on the bulb with your hand. Remove any papery outer skin before getting to the next step.
- Once you have selected a single clove, it is time to peel it! To start, cut off the hard clove stem (the part where the cloves attach to the bulb).
- Take the knife and lay its blade flat on the top of the clove. Push down with your hand to crack the skin.
- Peel the skin out and trash it.
- Cut both ends on the clove.
- Now it is time to slice the clove: start doing it lengthwise for slicing and add crosswise motions if you are mincing. You may have to repeat the process several times before getting something resembling a garlic paste for a good mince. (Find more on the differences between these two methods later).
Cutting garlic is not a particularly challenging task, but it is one of those basic skills you want to master to take your cooking skills to another level. If you cook for many people and like saving time, you may appreciate this tip. To peel lots of cloves fast, you can place them in a stainless steel bowl and use another bowl to cover it. Just like magic, by shaking the bowls, you'll cause the peels to flake off inside. Quick, easy, and no fuss!
If you don't feel that comfortable with knives, you can consider using other tools for mincing your garlic. For instance, you can use a food processor, a garlic press, or even a fork. Finally, don't forget to play with textures to find out the taste you like the most: in general, the finer you mince the garlic, the stronger the flavor you'll end up with!
When to mince garlic
The best time to mince (or chop) garlic is right before use. Letting peeled and cut garlic to rest will cause its enzymes to get released, which may cause a harsh and bitter flavor. However, if you have mistakenly cut too much of it, it won't be the end of the world. Only make sure you place your garlic in an airtight container in the fridge and use it for your next meal. Avoid letting it sit for more than six hours to prevent it from overpowering your dishes.
Is chopped garlic and minced garlic the same?
Chopped and minced garlic are slightly different. The first is coarses and suits the best soups, braises, and pan-seared meat cuts. Minced garlic is harder to achieve by hand and usually features grains less than 1/16 of an inch big. This method is excellent as a base for sauces, dressings, or sauteed dishes (think stir-fries) to avoid dealing with large pieces that might cause trouble when eaten.
One of the downsides of using minced garlic is that it can burn if you don't pay close attention, which can cause your dishes to taste bitter. To prevent that from happening, add softening ingredients such as onion, celery, or carrots. For stir-fries, avoid cooking the garlic for more than 30 seconds, and don't forget to keep the pan moving.
To get the most out of the flavor of chopped or minced garlic, give it time to simmer in olive oil before adding other foods to the pan. Throw the rest of your ingredients when the garlic becomes fragrant. You may even want to infuse garlic into oil for an intense-flavored seasoning.
The Bottom Line
Hopefully, with this guide, you now have a better idea of the best ways to cut garlic and how to add it to your dishes. While the task isn't challenging, learning how to mince, cut, and chop garlic will open you a door of opportunities when it comes to experimenting in the kitchen and adding tasty flavors to your meals. Don't forget that practice makes the master!