The Great Garlic Debate

I know many, many people who stress out with garlic.  Or they stay away from cooking with it because they don’t really know how to use it. When used incorrectly, it can be overpowering, spicy and just plain gross.  However, when you use it the right way, all it does is make everything better.  Well, almost everything. Not chocolate.

I’m going to start very specifically, because I know I have friends that need this little tutorial.  So if you know the least bit about garlic, skip the next two pictures.

This is a head of garlic.

Head of Garlic

To get to the cloves, you have to peel the outside layer off.

Peeling Garlic Head

This what it will look like once you have done that.  Now you can start pulling the individual cloves off.

Peeled Head of Garlic

And here is one clove of garlic!

Clove of Garlic

As you can see, there is a skin on each garlic clove.  If you are using a garlic press, you don’t HAVE to take that skin off.  You can just peel it out of the garlic press.  That’s what I do.  If you are chopping or slicing the garlic, you will need to take each garlic skin off.  One easy way of doing that is to place the flat side of a large knife on a clove and with your hand pound the other side of the knife, crushing it slightly, allowing it to peel off easily.

Peeling Clove of Garlic

You can buy cloves of garlic with the skins off and ready to use.  But you pay for it.  I opt for the cheap heads.  I actually buy garlic in bulk at Sam’s, but I don’t expect most normal people to do that.

The type of garlic you want to use depends on what you’re making.  Here are different ways to use garlic in order of potency:

  • Whole garlic cloves
  • Sliced garlic  – No matter how thin you slice it, it will be potent.

Sliced Garlic

  • Chopped garlic – This is slightly more potent than crushed, but not much.  And it takes a lot more work than using a garlic press.

Chopped Garlic

  • Crushed garlic – decreases the potency immensely. I tend to use crushed garlic in most things for a couple of reasons:  A. my family likes that particular amount of garlic potency.  B. it’s the fastest way to use fresh garlic.
Crushed Garlic

It’s a little known fact that garlic loses its potency and can get bitter while it cooks.  In every recipe (at least, every recipe that I can think of right now), I always wait until the absolute very end to add the garlic.  That way, the flavor is strongest and at its peak.  If it cooks and gets brown, you are running the risk of making it taste bitter.

My garlic press of choice is Pampered Chef.  I’ve had it for 9 years, and it still works perfectly.  And if I had to guess, I bet I use it at least 5 times a week.  So it’s definitely been worth the Pampered Chef price.

Obviously, as you know from our previous posts, we also really like roasted garlic – especially the smoked roasted garlic.  This type of garlic definitely loses its potency and just leaves its sweet flavors behind.  It’s so good…it’s just silly.  When making garlic butter, 1 entire head goes into 1 stick of butter.

Now-the difference between garlic salt, powder and granulated garlic.  Before I begin this explanation, please keep in mind that I am NOT a scientist.  I don’t actually know what chemicals make one different from the other.  I DO know how they alter my food though!


  • Garlic salt – VERY salty.  I don’t use garlic salt in much any more – I like to control the amount of salt and the amount of garlic I use – separately.  And we always have it on hand, but it makes everything very salty.  However, garlic salt is a great quick fix to garlic bread.
  • Garlic powder – this is like garlic in a shaker.  It’s powdery, like flour.  It’s difficult to mix into sauces, as it clumps.  When cooked for a while, it tends to sweeten up a little.  Again, this has a great garlic flavor.  And it is best for recipes that need hints of garlic – dough, hash browns, baked potatoes – anything where you don’t want a strong flavor of garlic coming through.
  • Granulated garlic – again – very garlicy, not salty, but much bigger grains. Great with anything you want to have a nice garlic flavor to – minus the salt.  Kevin prefers using this in all of his rubs and sauces. This type of garlic mixes well with everything, and it’s our garlic “shaker” of choice.   This is the garlic we keep in our pantry at all times.

There you go.  Everything, and probably more, that you needed to know about garlic.

2 thoughts on “The Great Garlic Debate

  1. Looks like this was from a few years ago but I really wanted to say THANK YOU! Just now learning to cook at age 42 and every bit of information helps. So nice to see it explained in detail.

  2. Most every food, with the exception of desserts, can benefit from a small amount of garlic salt or garlic powder.

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