Garlic is a culinary spice used to flavour dishes all over the world. I add it to practically all my recipes. It has a very distinctive, pungent taste and smell, which tends to linger once eaten. Apparently if you pair it with fresh parsley, then this helps to disperse the smell on your breath. Garlic is from the same family of plants as onions, leeks and chives. It comes in the form of a head or bulb, which is made up of 8-20 separate cloves, encased in a papery-like skin. When cooking, it is necessary to peel and often cut or crush the flesh of the garlic cloves, which can be quite tricky.
Garlic is not only a tasty addition to a recipe, but it also has several health benefits. Due to it containing several sulphur compounds, it is incredibly good for your heart, as the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits of these sulphur containing compounds help to protect and repair the cardiovascular system. There is evidence to suggest that including garlic in your diet can help prevent narrowing of the blood vessels, preventing blood clots developing and regulating blood pressure.
Furthermore, garlic is a fantastic source for vitamin B6 and manganese. Vitamin B6 or peridoxine helps promote metabolism of fat, carbohydrate and protein, aids in the formation of healthy skin and hair, as well as building normal red blood cells. Manganese is a mineral also required for growth and repair within the body.
There are an incredible amount of garlic graters, crushers, slicers, peelers and pressers available to help you prepare garlic. I’ve tried many, some less effective than others. Often I find crushers leave a lot of the garlic behind and can be messy to clean. I’ve also tried several graters, but tend to again find them tricky as I end up grating my fingers and my hands end up smelling very strongly of garlic. It has taken a lot of trial and error, but I have now found a couple of really helpful and efficient garlic tools that I swear by. My Joseph Joseph Garlic Peeler and my Lakeland Garlic Slice and Dice.
Peeling a garlic clove can be really difficult unless you have a good tool to help you. The Joseph Joseph one that I swear by is so simple and easy to use that I would recommend it to anyone. It is simply a sheet of silicon curled up to form a cylinder. You place the garlic clove inside the cylinder and roll it between your hands, rubbing against the garlic clove. The friction created causes the garlic skin to split and separate from the garlic, meaning you don’t have to pick at it with your fingers, reducing the chance of your hands smelling of the stuff. I have also been taught another garlic peeling trick which I find good. Place the garlic inside a small sealed container and shake it vigorously. The contact again causes the skin to become separated, but I find the contact also causes you to lose some of the garlic taste, as the impact causes the garlic oils or juices to be released.
Slicing a garlic clove can simply be done with a knife, but I don’t do it as its so small I can’t both feel and slice at the same time. In the Lakeland Garlic Slice and Dice, there are two grates, one for thin slices and then one for tiny dice. Its great! You simply lay the clove on top of the grate, close the lid and press down and the garlic is forced through the holes, doing all the messy work for you instantly. This means you also don’t have to handle the garlic, reducing the transfer of smell to your hands. Even better, there is a handy collection pot underneath the grate which catches the sliced up garlic. All you need to do is remove this and pour the prepared garlic straight in to your pan.
The one slight criticism with the Slice and Dice is that if you have a large garlic clove, you need to cut it up smaller first before you use it. Also if you require a garlic puree, then the dice are not small enough. If this is the case then you need to use a grater instead.
I’ve not yet found a garlic grater that I am completely happy with. It is a work in progress and when I do, I will be sure to let you know. As garlic has such a pungent smell, I hate to have to handle it too much as I can not stand the smell of it on my hands. A tip I have picked up on the way to help prevent the smell lingering on your hands is to always wash them afterwards in cold water, not warm or hot, as the heat causes the garlic oil to almost cook on your skin.
Please feel free to share any of your garlic tips or tricks in the comments below. Its definitely not the most straightforward ingredient to prepare, but its inclusion in meals definitely does improve the flavour, making the challenge worthwhile. Its added health benefits are also much appreciated. If you know of any way to make it easier, then that would be fantastic.
Thank you for reading and speak soon.