The other day a friend of mine said she’d like to buy garlic from us, but she wouldn’t know what to do with it. When I suggested she mince it and use it in a sauce, she asked me what it meant to “mince”, saying she’d only ever used powdered garlic.
At this point, another friend who was listening in suggested I illustrate how to actually mince a clove of garlic, but since I don’t regularly carry around a cutting board, knife, or said garlic, I opted for this blog post.
Even if you’ve been using garlic for years, keep reading! While researching for this post, I learned a new technique for peeling garlic, so who knows, maybe you’ll learn something new here too.
The first thing you need to do is separate the bulb into cloves–
and then peel away the outer layers of skin. Awhile back, my brother-in-law emailed this video of a chef banging garlic around between two metal bowl for 10 seconds. When he was finished, the garlic cloves were all separated and peeled. I wondered if this technique worked for hardneck garlic (what we sell), so I gave it a try, and—for real—it worked!
But what if you only want to use one clove of garlic at a time rather than the whole bulb?
Starting at the top of the bulb, pull away a clove of garlic, but don’t start peeling. First, place the blade of your chef’s knife flat against the garlic. Holding on to the handle with one hand, use the heel of your other hand to press down on the blade.
This loosens those skin layers and makes for easy peeling (rather than the sometimes painful experience of scraping away the skin with your fingernails!). Remove those papery layers from your cutting board so they don’t get mixed up in your soon-to-be-minced garlic.
Next, find the basal end of the garlic clove, cut it off, and drop it in the compost bin.
Now you’re ready for the knife work! Most recipes call for minced, sliced, or crushed garlic, so let’s take a look at each of these techniques.
Using your chef’s knife again, lay the blade flat against the top of the clove. Hold the knife’s handle with one hand, and press down gently on the knife with the heel of your other hand to bruise the clove against your cutting board.
Next, move your knife into a cutting position, place your non-dominant hand flat across the top of your knife, and rock the knife back and forth until you’re garlic’s chopped in tiny pieces, or minced. For a video of this technique from a pro, check out this link from the American Test Kitchen.
To crush the garlic, repeat the steps used for mincing. Next, sprinkle a little bit of salt over the garlic (to soak up the garlic juices), and, place your knife’s blade flat against the minced garlic. Press the blade against the minced garlic until the garlic is sufficiently smashed. Or, you can use a garlic press for quick and easy crushed garlic.
To slice, lay your garlic clove flat on the cutting board. Hold the clove with the fingertips of one hand. Use a rocking motion to make careful slices across the clove.
That’s it! Now all you need is practice, and to practice, of course, you’re going to need some garlic! Check out our storefront to get yourself some gourmet, hardneck Perkins’ Good Earth Farm garlic. Then let me know in the comments section below how your garlic adventure is going!
Photography, Video, and Food Styling: Anne Kingma