How I Overcome My Biggest Challenge to Using Fresh Garlic

Garlic is so good for you, right?

We're all told about it's health promoting properties, helping your immune system be strong.

And it makes everything taste so much better, right?

Mmmm garlic + bread, garlic + stir-fry veggies, garlic + soup, etc.  The list is endless!

Yes, yes, we all know all these things. But the thing is that I have to admit about garlic is that using it is a pain.

Do you ever feel that way? Like just peeling the fresh garlic is a little barrier to using as much of it as you’d really like to?

That’s totally me!

I don’t like to complain, really! (haha) And, I love to cook and am so blessed to have a veggie farm that supplies me with unlimited garlic, BUT to be honest, I don’t like dealing with it in the kitchen.

It’s hard to peel and gets under my fingers and hurts under my nails. It’s sticky and hard to clean off of a garlic press. And it’s hard and tedious to mince it really fine.  

Okay, enough complaining! So, if these things or other things prevent you from using as much garlic as you would (like they did to me sometimes) then listen up! I’ve figured out a few tips that will make using more fresh garlic in the kitchen fun and easy!

Because, let’s face it, garden fresh garlic tastes SO much better than the pre-minced stuff in the jar.




How I overcome my biggest challenge to using fresh garlic...


#1: For peeling a few cloves at a time, use this cheap thingy.

Okay, I'm not really a sucker for gadgets and gimmicks.  BUT, a CSA member got me this simple silicone garlic peeler* and it works wonders for rubbing the skin off of garlic cloves preventing the pain under the nails thing that I got for years before it.  It's a genious design!

*By the way, I’m not one of those bloggers who makes money off of clicks and buys and things like that. No commission here, just letting you know about this thing that has literally made my life so much better.  Here's a link to an example product that I do not endorse in any way.  I'm just a farmer trying to help people eat more veggies!  :)


#2:  For peeling lots of cloves at a time, use this soaking method.

A fellow farmer friend shared this with me. Take your whole garlic bulbs, no need to even break apart the cloves and soak them for 10+ minutes in water. This will soften those little garlic peels and make them SO much easier to peel. This works when you want to use a whole bulb or more than one whole bulb at a time.


#3:  For preserving lots of extra garlic (especially the "ugly" stuff that isn’t as nice as you’d like to use for fall/winter storage, but is still fine), use this easy quick pickling method.

  1. Place your whole garlic heads/bulbs in a large bowl and fill it with water.
  2. Allow the bulbs to soak for about 10 minutes to soften the papery "skins".
  3. After about 10 minutes, remove the skins from the cloves. Do not cut off the ends. If the clove is very damaged, discard it.
  4. Rinse the cloves in a colander/sieve a few times, until they are very clean. Place on a clean towel to dry.
  5. Put your garlic cloves into a jar, leaving about an inch of headspace.
  6. Then pour pickling vinegar into the jar until all the cloves are covered in vinegar.
  7. Place a lid on the jar and store the "pickled garlic" in the fridge. No need to can it!

Note: Even though the garlic is soaking in vinegar, it really does not develop a "vinegary" flavor, as long as the cloves are intact (this is why we don't remove the stem end of the clove).

The preserved garlic will last a long time, at least one year.

You can use your preserved garlic in any recipe that calls for fresh garlic. Start by removing a clove from the jar and rinsing it off with water if you don't want to add a vinegar flavor to the dish. Use it just like fresh garlic - mince, chop, slice or crush.


#4:  For chopping lots of garlic at once, use a food processor.

As I said I really don’t like mincing garlic finely. It's just so tedious.  Truth bomb: I always ask my husband, aka Farmer Gene, to do it for me if I can.

And a garlic press always leaves such a mess to get all the way clean.  Know what I mean?

So when I’m in need of several cloves of garlic minced finely, I figured out that using a clean food processor is the best way to do it! All you do is get your cloves peeled however you want that done. Put them into the food processor whole and pulse until minced. Boom it’s done! (Yes, I know that it also involves clean up, but I like that better and am often using it for something else soon enough that it doesn’t matter!)


I hope these tips are helpful!  No more thinking twice about cooking with garlic!  


Do you love garlic? What are your tips for using more in your cooking? Let me know by replying to this blog post below!

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Comments (3)

Hi Mary Margaret, I cook with garlic nearly every night, not just one but usually 2 or 3 cloves. We do grow our own but usually run out before the next harvest. I like your idea of preserving in vinegar, I'll do that, will save a little time in the kitchen. My method of peeling, which is still a bit messy, is place the clove on my cutting board, place a chopping knife over the clove, and hit it hard with the heel of your hand. The skin comes off much easier, but the clove is not whole. I rarely use them whole anyway. I agree with you, garlic press is a mess to clean up. I don't mind mincing, do it nearly every night. I think eating garlic and onions keep us healthy. Unfortunately our onion crop was a total bust this year. Timing and weather for planting and growing was not good. Thanks for your tips!

Thanks for all the very good tips on cleaning and storing garlic. I use garlic breakfast, lunch and dinner. I've used Julia Child's method of laying the big knife across the clove and smashing it and I don't mind mincing either. For the storing in vinegar method you recommend, I don't have trouble piercing with a sharp paring knife to get a start on lifting the skin off. As for the garlic press, I agree it's not fun to clean so I plop it in a bowl of water to soak. Maybe I'll add a splash of vinegar to that bowl to cut the oil.

I use a mortar and pestle and it works very well