Peeling garlic can be a sticky, tedious task. The husks are often evasive and the more you handle garlic, the harder it is to work with. Once those garlic oils get between your fingers or under your fingernails it’s easy to feel defeated.
But with a few simple tricks, you can take your garlic prep skills to the next level by saving time, patience and energy. Plus, you may be able to impress your guests with a parlor trick or two.
Trick Number 1: Roll It Out
Rolling out garlic is one way to get the husk out without even touching the garlic cloves. This is a great option for people with glasses who tend to touch their eyes on accident while cooking. The process is pretty simple.
First, remove the desired cloves from the garlic, cut off the base ends and set them aside. Then, insert one or two cloves into a garlic roller. This simple silicone tube is hollow on both ends to allow the peels and clove to separate and fall out.
With your cloves inside the roller, use your hands to work the roller as if you were rolling dough:
The garlic will drop out intact and the husks can be picked through and thrown out to the compost pile:
Trick Number 2: Smash and Grab
This move is a little louder but a fun one for kids or guests who need something to do in the kitchen. It is very effective but not the best if you intend to use whole cloves in your dish.
First, remove the cloves from the garlic and cut off the bases. Then, find yourself a flat tool and a cutting board. The flat tool can be anything from a butter knife to a wooden spatula – just something that provides you with a level surface.
Take your garlic and position it on your cutting board with the flat tool on top.
Then, use the palm of your hand to drive down the garlic:
The impact will split open the clove on the cutting board. You can then pinch the top of the clove and give it a shake to separate the husk.
Trick Number 3: Center Cut
This method is a bit more common but involves more work by hand. This method requires more hand dexterity and practice with a knife. So if you’re prone to accidents in the kitchen this one may not work out for you.
Separate cloves as before and select one to work with:
Using a sharp paring knife, slice down through the husk, being careful not to cut all the way through. Make your vertical cut from the tip of the clove to the bottom:
Then, once you’ve made the cut, you should be able to unwrap the husk and work with the finished clove:
From here, you can finish your cut to remove any inner garlic starts.
Trick Number 4: Whole Bulb Peel
If you have a large group or a special need for several cloves of garlic at once, this method tops the list. Instead of handling one or two cloves at a time, you can peel dozens of cloves in seconds. This takes a bit of grip strength to perform correctly.
First, cut ends from the cloves and separate them. You’ll need two mixing bowls that are the same size, or a shaker. Small plastic containers with lids also work. Insert the cloves into the mixing bowl or shaker and secure them together with your fingertips.
Shake the makeshift tumbler vigorously for a few seconds:
When finished, remove the top bowl and sift through the wreckage. You should be able to pick out the cloves from the husks with ease. There may be one or two left and you can use one of the other tricks listed above to finish the job:
Trick Number 5: Soaked to Perfection
This method is a bit more involved but a better option for those with less strength, dexterity or aggression. If the methods above aren’t feasible for you, try to give your garlic a soak. There shouldn’t be a noticeable loss of flavor, but working with water may be a little more of a mess.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Then, cut your cloves from the bulb and set them aside. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, turn off the heat and drop your cloves inside:
After about 5 minutes, use a perforated ladle or tongs to retrieve your cloves:
The outer husk will have softened and you can peel it easily with your fingertips. If they aren’t coming off easily, put them back in for a minute or two and try again:
The health benefits and flavor of garlic are hard to pass up. And if it seems like too much work to peel each clove by hand, give these tricks a try. Whether you are adding garlic to a dinner meal or that next batch of canned asparagus, give one of these methods a try. You’ll never go back to peeling garlic the hard way again.