Here is the almighty head of garlic. A bit ugly, I’m not gonna lie, but trust me, we’ll get inside to the good stuff in no time.

To remove a clove(s) from the head of garlic, place the head of garlic pointy-side down on a cutting board.

Then using your hand, use a lot of force to push down on the garlic until you feel it “give,” much like when you press down on a head of lettuce to remove the core. Know what I’m sayin’?

Once the garlic has been loosened by the force of your hand, you can easily pry your fingers in between cloves to remove the number that you need.

The next step is to remove the skin from the garlic clove. See all that papery white stuff? We want it long gone but it doesn’t exactly peel off that easily using your fingers.

So here is what we need to do. Place the garlic clove so the rounded side is facing up.

Now grab your widest flat blade knife (the bottom of a small saucepan or skillet works well in the absence of an adequate knife) and place the wide flat part of the knife on top of the garlic clove.

And with your hand, give it a little tap-push action. You don’t want to beat the clove to smithereens (we’ll get to that method in a second), you simply want to apply enough pressure to loosen the skin from around the clove.

After the love tap, your garlic clove should look something like this: do you see how the skin around the clove has ripped and loosened. Perfect!

Now grab that wily little clove and gently remove the papery skin. It should come off quite easily now that you’ve applied a bit of pressure. Idn’t the naked thing just the cutest little clove you’ve ever seen?

Now here is where you have some options.
Option 1: You can take that cute little clove and toss it into a garlic press for some instant minced garlic action. This happens to be my method of choice but I know not everyone has a garlic press at the ready, so that is where the next option comes in.

Option 2: For a quick and easy way to mince those cloves right up, skip the step of loosening the garlic skins. Instead, remove the garlic clove from the head of garlic, like shown in the first couple of steps, and again, place it rounded side up on a cutting board. This time after you place the flat of the knife on the clove…

You are going to apply all the force known to man and smash the garlic right out of that garlic. Go ahead, slam your hand down on the flat of the knife – hard enough to flatten the garlic clove. It will look something like this. You can see how this time the clove has been pretty much obliterated, but that’s what you want because it makes mincing it easier.

Once again, grab the papery skins from the clove and gently remove them from all the nooks and crannies of the smashed garlic (it should come off really easily).

All you should have to do now is gently move your knife through the garlic one or two times.

And thanks to the pre-smash action, you’ll have finely minced garlic in no time!


7 Responses to Tutorial: Peeling and Chopping Fresh Garlic

  1. Rachel says:

    I checked out this tutorial to get some tips on garlic, but you totally changed my life because of what you said about the lettuce. I've never heard about taking the core out of a head of lettuce before. I did it last night, and for some reason I am super excited about that nifty little trick! My husband was laughing at me because I said it totally revolutionized salad for me. Call me crazy. It just made me happy. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Carol says:

    What brand of garlic press do you have? I’ve had probably 4 or 5 different ones and even the $20 one was just inadequate…I want my little garlic pieces to look like yours…instead mine look like mashed garlic. So….I have been using one of those long graters (my mother had one solely for grating cinnamon over hot drinks, lol). It too makes it mushy but at least there are some bits too. THanks.

    • Mel says:

      Carol, I’ve had my garlic press for so long that I don’t remember what brand it is (and unfortunately the brand isn’t stamped on it anywhere) but if I remember right, it is the OXO brand. I hope that helps!

  3. Jamy says:

    Just had to laugh, is that an IKEA cutting board? If so, yup, I have the exact same one! I love my garlic press. I never thought I’d get one, but it is a life-saver! Love your stuff Mel! LOVE IT!

  4. Michelle says:

    Thank you so much for posting this tutorial. I used fresh garlic for the first time today and this method worked perfectly! No longer intimidated by the little garlic clove :)

  5. LuLuBelle says:

    I say Rachel’s comment about coring the lettuce but did not see it in the tips section. I find that using a knife turns the lettuce brown…curious to know what tool you use to core the lettuce. A plastic serrated knife?

  6. Becky says:

    I learned in a high school cooking class how to core lettuce, and it works. I’ve also amused everyone who’s ever seen me do it. :-)

    When you buy lettuce, try to find one where the core sticks out a little like a stem. Those are the easiest to work with.

    So, unwrap the lettuce (if it’s wrapped), and don’t worry about washing it. That’ll come in a minute. Turn it upside down so that the “core that looks like a little stem” is pointing down at the counter, and from about a foot up, SMACK it down onto the counter. You’ll most likely have pushed the core in some. Take a paper towel (it helps with gripping), put it over the core, and twist. The whole core will come out looking like a cone. :-) From there, put it into the sink and run cold water into the hole where the core had been. Pretty soon the leaves will start separating, and they’ll be washed at the same time. What I usuallly do to drain the lettuce now is just flip it (hole-side down) over the sink drain and let it ‘empty’.

    Voila — washed, cored lettuce, and you got some of your frustrations out! :-)

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