DinnerDork [ \ˈdi-nər\\ˈdȯrk\ ]
If you’re reading this blog, you probably don’t need to be convinced of the health benefits of adding garlic to your diet. If you’re not already convinced check out this, and this, and while you’re at it read this one too. So, yes…we’re convinced that garlic is good for more than just deterring vampire attacks and warding off illness. But still, it isn’t always easy to jump head-first into cooking with garlic. Why? Well for starters, nearly every knows someone with perpetual “garlic breath”, and some of us even know a few folks who smell like garlic…sadly. Yet and still garlic’s funky reputation isn’t always justified. Read on.
Two words | Garlic bread
Show me a person who claims to hate garlic, and I’ll try to entice them with garlic bread. Garlic bread is delicious. Period. If a person can like garlic bread, they can love garlic! And let’s be serious here, who says no to garlic bread (first-dates excluded).
Nose detector | It’s all in the smell
The truth is that a lot of people who claim to dislike garlic, actually don’t like garlic powder or jarred/ canned garlic (though I’d argue that these can be delicious too if stored properly and used before they expire). Fresh garlic is not equal to the powdered or jarred variety. No one should discount garlic on account of anything that doesn’t come from the produce department and require peeling. Don’t believe me? Smell a clove of fresh garlic next time you’re strolling through the produce section. You’ll find none of the classic “garlic” odor that we think of when garlic is slandered in the form of insults. The taste of the fresh stuff is just as starkly different from the preserved varieties.
So what’s the catch? If fresh garlic is so good, why would anyone use anything else?
Convenience is often king, and shouldn’t be discounted. When you’re in a bind for time, a quality brand of garlic powder or jarred, minced garlic can be a life-saver, but it’s best to think of it as a short-cut; not a regular route. As fresh produce goes, garlic is ideal for several reasons:
- Fresh garlic has a uniquely long shelf life. We’re not talking long shelf-life for produce. There’s no disclaimer needed. As fresh food goes, garlic has a longer shelf life than milk, bread, most fruits and vegetables, and most seafood and meat. Simply put, if fresh garlic is going bad in your house – you need to re-evaluate your priorities.
- Fresh garlic doesn’t require refrigeration. Yes, you read that correctly. Yes, we are talking about fresh garlic, from the produce section of the grocery store. No, it doesn’t require refrigeration. Refrigeration will definitely prolong shelf-life, but garlic can be kept on the counter-top, and unlike other produce that doesn’t require refrigeration like potatoes, bananas, etc., garlic is naturally pest resistant. Read – no fruit flies.
Suit up | Here’s what you need to make the most of your fresh garlic experience
- Forget about trying to hand-chop garlic. Sure, you can use a food processor or other electric chopper, but who’s gonna drag out a big appliance and dirty a 3-quart bowl for a few cloves of garlic? Forget about it. Start off with a good quality garlic-press. DinnerDork prefers the ceramic variety, but go to the store and pick out what you’d like. Look for something with a comfort-grip handle because pressing garlic ain’t for light-weights!
- Make sure your garlic is well peeled before attempting to press it. There are few things more frustrating than trying to clean a garlic press that’s lodged with pieces of old garlic skin. The picture on top is unpeeled garlic – don’t attempt to press it until it looks like the picture on the bottom – fully peeled.
- Clean your garlic press between cloves. There will always be some pulp left behind inside of the press. Pull out the remaining pulp and rinse the press between cloves.
- Make it easy on yourself and clean your garlic press right after you use it. Garlic’s long shelf-life, carries over to garlic residue. Translation – if a garlic pressed isn’t properly clean it’s going to stay dirty. For a long time. Use the spray nozzle on your faucet to put some force behind the cleaning, and grab a toothpick to push pieces of pulp through the strainer if necessary. A clean garlic press is a happy garlic press!
Start off using fresh garlic in stir-fries, beans and seafood dishes. Don’t attempt to replace garlic powder in recipes requiring it with fresh garlic until you’re confident about how well you like the taste and texture of the fresh stuff in other recipes. Chances are, you’ll be a fresh garlic convert in no time!