Learn how to mince garlic with this easy step-by-step guide. I’m going to show you the simple technique of peeling cloves and breaking them down into a fine consistency for a variety of uses.
This potent, sulfurous ingredient is called for in most dishes to instantly add a fragrant aroma and depth of flavor. Garlic has many benefits and these papery white bulbs have a permanent home on most of our countertops, ready to grab, chop and add to any recipe that calls for it. But there’s fascinating science behind how to leverage its potent flavors, the right way.
The timing of when to cut and the size of those pieces are important. You’ve probably noticed that uncut cloves have no aroma, but the moment it’s sliced, a strong, sulfurous aroma appears. We’ll explore what causes that smell and how it impacts your dishes. Hungry to learn?
Step 1: Loosen the bulb
For a small number of cloves, place a whole bulb on a cutting board with the root side down. Press down on top of the bulb with the heel of your hand to loosen the cloves.
Step 2: Separate the cloves
Use your fingers to open and separate the cloves from the root.
Step 3: Trim the tips
Now that you have individual cloves, grab as many as you need for the recipe. Use a knife to trim the root end and tip of each garlic clove.
Step 4: Crush the cloves
Place the flat side of a chef’s knife over a clove, with the blade facing away from you. Use gentle pressure to lightly crush the clove between the cutting board.
Step 5: Peel away the skin
The papery skin should be easy to peel away from the clove. Do you notice any green sprouted garlic in the bunch?
Step 6: Mince the garlic
Cut the fresh garlic into thin slices, then use a fan chop technique to mince. Place your free hand on the top of the blade, near the tip, with fingertips touching the edge to help secure the knife (the tip should stay in the same place as you mince). Rock the knife up and down, from left to right, back and forth in a fanning motion until chopped or minced to the desired size.
When to mince garlic
It’s best to mince fresh garlic right before adding it to a dish. The more time that garlic gets to break down, the more enzymes are released and the more allicin is produced. More time equals more flavor, but it can also become overpowering if left sitting too long.
If not using immediately, cover in a small airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. It’s best to use the garlic right away, or within an hour of chopping. Once the garlic sits for more than 6 hours, it can become very bitter and overpowering in the recipe.
Does a garlic press mince?
Yes! If you’re lucky enough to own a good garlic press it can mince the garlic into a much more fine, consistent-sized mince compared to hand chopping. Some garlic presses don’t even need the skin to be removed which is a nice feature.
Is chopped garlic and minced garlic the same?
No! Chopped garlic is coarser, about ⅛-inch or larger, and has more of a bite compared to minced garlic. Chopped is good for flavoring stews, soups braises, or just for flavoring oil in dishes like pan-seared lamb chops.
Minced garlic is finer, around the size of small grains of couscous, or less than 1/16-inches. Minced is better for sauces, dressings, or a dish that is sauteed and cooked quickly so that you don’t have large pieces lingering, like stir-fries.
Ways to cook with it
- Minced garlic can easily burn and turn bitter in flavor. Make sure to add it after softening other ingredients like onions, carrots, shallots, and celery.
- If the pan is heated over medium-high to high heat, cook garlic for only 30 seconds and keep it moving in the pan. I do this technique a lot when I make a stir-fry. Add garlic at the end for a punch of flavor and prevent it from burning.
- If you want to infuse garlic flavor into oil, heat it in a cold pan with the fat over low to medium-low heat. Give it some time to gently heat and infuse its incredible flavor compounds in the oil.
What happens when garlic cloves are cut?
An odorless sulfur-containing amino acid is released from garlic when you rupture the cell walls with a knife. The amino acid interacts with a natural enzyme in the garlic called alliinase, and over time they produce a compound called allicin. This is that familiar “bite” and a characteristic odor that can quickly fill a room or cause garlic breath.
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How to Peel and Mince Garlic
- 1 bulb garlic
- Peel the garlic by placing the whole bulb on a cutting board with the root side down.
- Press down on top of the bulb with the heel of your hand, using your weight to separate the cloves. Use your fingers to remove the cloves from the root.
- Use a knife to trim a small amount of the root and tip end of each clove.
- Place the flat side of a chef's knife over the clove with the blade facing away from you. Use gentle pressure to lightly crush the clove between the cutting board to release the papery skin. Discard the skin.
- Place the peeled garlic cloves in a pile on the cutting board. Place your fingertips on top of the blade near the tips. Use an up and down motion, moving side to side to chop the garlic into smaller pieces.
- Continue to mince the garlic until the desired size is reached. Chopped garlic is about the size of large grains of cooked rice, minced garlic is about the size of small-grained cooked couscous.
- Use the minced garlic immediately, or within 1 hour of mincing.
- If not using right away, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for no more than 6 hours.
- I find that one medium clove gives about ½ to 1 teaspoon of minced garlic. Therefore three to four medium cloves yield about 1 tablespoon of minced garlic.
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