Garlic is the cornerstone of so many delicious dishes, adding savory flavor and a pleasant bite to everything from bread to Brussels sprouts. But peeling the cloves is by far the most annoying part of the cooking process, especially when you’re staring down a recipe that calls for a whole head or more. Luckily, there are options.
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The classic, no-fail technique that you’re no doubt familiar with is to crush the clove using the flat portion of the knife blade and peel away the papery skin. This is fine on a small scale (and is certainly the most effective method), but it’s unbearably tedious when your recipe calls for far more than a clove or two. And the thought of all of those wispy garlic skins sticking to everything after you’ve peeled the cloves? No thank you. (You can always skip the chaos altogether and just purchase your garlic frozen or pre-peeled.)
If you're looking to lessen this hassle in your own kitchen, here are 6 tips to get a head of the stuff peeled in no time.
1. The Mason Jar Shake
We’ve covered this before, but it bears repeating: Using a mason jar is as easy as it sounds and great for peeling a lot of garlic in very little time. After you’ve discarded the outermost layer of skin, you can peel 15 cloves in 15 seconds, using a wide mouth jar with a lid. Remember to shake constantly and vigorously for the best results.
2. Two Bowls and a Shake
Not looking forward to peeling garlic for a batch of Garlic-Lime Fried Chicken? This is a variation on the mason jar technique, but if you have two lipped (edged) metal bowls of the same size on hand, you can peel a head of garlic, about 12 cloves. Place the garlic into one bowl and cover with the other bowl, dome-side up. Holding the bowls together by the edges, shake vigorously until the skins have fallen away.
3. The Rolling Pin Smash
This rolling pin hack has an added bonus: it traps those pesky papery skins in one place. Break the heads of garlic into individual cloves and place them in a heavy-duty zipper-lock bag. Squeeze out most of the air, seal the bag, and gently pound the cloves with a rolling pin. Then just remove the peeled cloves from the bag, zip the bag back up (with the skins still inside), and discard.
4. The Microwave Zap
If you need 8 cloves of garlic to make a Tuscan-Style Roast Pork with Garlic and Rosemary (Arista), use some heat. This method requires a plate and a microwave; that’s it. Place the garlic on a microwave-safe plate and cook on high power for 10 to 20 seconds. Once cooled, the skins slide right off.
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5. The Special Peeler
If you eat garlic almost every day, consider investing in a garlic peeler. These handy tools are simple rubber or silicone tubes that you pop a clove of garlic into, and roll until the skin comes off. The best garlic peeler we tested will make peeling a breeze, and won't even bruise the clove, which makes this method ideal for applications when you need whole or sliced cloves. Shrimp Scampi, anyone?
6. The Peeler in Disguise
One home cook we heard from recommended using a silicone sleeve for your cast-iron skillet handle as an impromptu peeler. (It looks a lot like a garlic-peeling tube, doesn’t it?) “Just put the garlic cloves inside the handle protector and use the heel of your hand to roll them around on the counter,” they said. “The skins come off easily, and the tube rinses right out for easy cleanup.”
Photo: Suguru Narita / EyeEm, Getty Images