Blanching Food
Black Spots on Potatoes after Boiling

Removing the Skin from Garlic

What is the best way to remove the skin from garlic?

-- J.M.

There are a number of ways to remove the skin from garlic.  To start, break as many cloves of garlic as you need from the head.  If the central stalk on the head of garlic is stiff, then you can usually just twist and pull it out, making it easy to break off the cloves.  Otherwise, it takes a bit more work to pry them loose.

I always trim off the root end, where the clove attaches to the head, with my chef's knife to avoid getting any of that tough part in the finished dish. After that, it pretty much depends on whether you want the cloves to be whole or not.

To get whole cloves, there are two approaches.  You can rub the skin off, either between your hands or using a garlic peeler.  To make the skins easier to remove, the cloves can be placed in boiling water for just a few seconds, after which you should rinse them in cold water to cool them off and the skins should slide off quite easily.  If not, boil them for a bit longer.

If you don't care whether the cloves end up whole, the easiest method is to place them on your cutting board, put something flat on top and give it a whack.  This is usually done with the blade of a chef's knife, hitting it with the bottom of a closed fist to smash the garlic, but you must be careful to avoid cutting yourself.  I would recommend instead using a spatula, another smaller cutting board, or just smashing the cloves with the bottom of a saucepan.  Nothing ruins preparing a good meal like ending up in the emergency ward for stitches.  Ask me.  I know!

Just don't smash the cloves so hard you pulverize them.  With a little practice you will know how hard to hit them.  After the skins are split from being smashed, they usually peel off easily.

Of course, if the garlic is ultimately bound for the garlic press, some cooks just leave the skins on and press them as is.  The theory is that the skins get left behind in the press.  Personally, I skin garlic before pressing it, but not if I am going to grate it with my micro-plane, which I do for some applications, like making dressings or tzatziki.


Thanks, it's been a while since I've used whole garlic.

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