Many home cooks will agree that fresh garlic is a must-have item when it comes to ingredients one should always keep around the kitchen.
What people can't always agree on, however, is the best way to peel and chop it.
Chef Michael Goralski, the executive chef at the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole, peels and chops more garlic in a week than most people do in a year — and maybe even a lifetime.
During his restaurant's busiest seasons, he easily goes through a gallon of garlic bulbs a day.
Whether Goralski is cooking for guests expecting top-notch service or simply cooking for his family at home, he still approaches garlic the same way.
Here are his top tips for peeling and chopping the ingredient that's lovingly known as the "stinking rose."
Is it ever OK to buy pre-chopped garlic?
A lot of people try to avoid the hassle of peeling and chopping up a whole bulb, but if you want your dish to be as delicious as it possibly can be, avoid the prepped stuff that you find at most grocery stores. According to Goralski, buying pre-chopped garlic in a jar is a shortcut that just isn't worth it.
Not only is it cheaper to buy garlic in bulbs, but it's also the best way to ensure freshness. Some chopped garlic also has salt or other additives to help it maintain its color in the jar. Both of these things may affect the final flavor of your dish, resulting in a subpar dining experience.
When shopping for garlic, seek out bulbs that are firm with tight skin. The color of the garlic doesn't matter as long as the bulbs have unbroken skin. Avoid any that feel soft or moist. If you're going to use the garlic within a month, it's perfectly fine to buy in bulk. "If properly stored, garlic bulbs can last a few weeks," says Goralski. If you don't use garlic that often, however, just buy what you need.
How to peel garlic
Goralski's top tip for peeling garlic is to use the "Mason way" — a method he learned from a friend who isn't a professional chef. First, press the garlic bulbs down on a cutting board to loosen the cloves. You can use the heel of your hand or the flat edge of a large knife. Place the loosened cloves in a Mason jar, close the lid and vigorously shake for 20-30 seconds. "This pulls the skins away from the clove and keeps the garlic shape," explained Goralski.
Martha Stewart employs a similar technique, but she prefers to use two metal bowls instead of a jar to shake the garlic cloves loose from their skins.
Goralski also noted that using a peeling tube is another fast and relatively clean way to peel garlic without compromising the shape of the cloves. These tubes cost anywhere from $3 to $8 and are dishwasher safe. In 2017, actress Kristen Bell told TODAY that her garlic peeler was the real MVP in her kitchen and used it as part of one of her favorite entertaining hacks.
One method Goralski definitely does not recommend is using the microwave (or any heat source) to peel garlic since it actually starts cooking the cloves and may compromise the flavor of your final dish.
"I don't use any heating method because it's not a necessity," explained the chef.
However you decide to peel garlic, just don't get frustrated. Do always take the time to make sure the flaky skins are totally removed from cloves. If you don't, said the chef, your dinner guests may wind up with an unwelcome texture in their mouths.
How to chop garlic
Before you get chopping, grab a clean cutting board and a chef's knife.
Grab one clove at a time and start by slicing individual cloves into rounds. Then gather the slices together and rock the knife back and forth until you achieve the desired size chop. If a garlic puree is preferred, simply place a whole clove into a garlic press, press down and scrape off the pulverized garlic mash.
If you're not using the chopped garlic immediately, store it in the fridge in a container with enough olive oil to cover the garlic. The oil will keep it fresh longer.
When he needs a more finely chopped garlic, Goralski uses a food processor. He adds a touch of olive oil and then pulses his cloves until they are the desired size. If you don't wan't to set up the food processor, maybe consider investing in a garlic crusher. Taylor Swift calls hers a "game-changer."
And if you're worried about your cutting board reeking of garlic afterward, Goralski recommends rubbing it with half an apple or half a potato after washing it to soak up the sulfuric smell.