How To Peel Garlic Like You Work At A Restaurant

With its unique, aromatic flavor, garlic is a vital ingredient in countless cuisines around the world. Whether you're roasting a few cloves with some cherry tomatoes to incorporate into pasta, or sprinkling minced garlic over sourdough for some quick and easy garlic bread, there is no limit to the number of dishes you can enhance with this little vegetable. But like so many good things in life, garlic comes with a price. If you want to enjoy the tangy taste of fresh garlic, you'll have to deal with the delicate, crumbly peel that it comes in.


Peeling garlic can be a pain, especially if you have a large quantity to get through. The peels have a tendency to tightly stick to the clove, and trying to scrape it off can leave you with sticky fingers and garlic under your nails. Sometimes, you can only get the peel off bit by bit, leaving your kitchen covered with tiny, semi-translucent pieces. To avoid these pitfalls and peel garlic in one fell swoop, it pays to look to the professionals. For many restaurant chefs, all that's needed to peel garlic is a bowl of water.

Submerge garlic to remove the peel

Speaking to Food Network, Chef Nicholas Poulmentis, who works at the Greek restaurant Akotiri in Queens, New York, recommends that you "leave garlic cloves in a plastic container filled with water overnight." Poulmentis goes on to describe how after the garlic has soaked, "the next morning you can push the skin right off, no knife needed." This hack works best when you have some advanced notice since it will take several hours for the water to permeate the peels so they are loose enough to fall right off of the cloves. You can submerge what you need of the bulb in water for just a couple of minutes in a pinch; this won't lead to as easy de-sheathing, but even a half hour in warm water can make a bit of difference in peeling them.


Once your garlic has been peeled, don't forget to chop off the hard stem before adding it to any recipes. Garlic cloves can be used whole or sliced into any profile, but one of the most common ways to use the versatile aromatic is to mince it. Start by using the flat side of a large knife, like a chef's knife, to smash the garlic down. Flattening it will make it easier to mince since it can't slide around the cutting board. Make a few slices into the garlic, then move your knife side to side in a rocking motion to mince the garlic to your satisfaction.

Start with quality garlic

Fresh, good-quality garlic is easier to peel, so it's worth knowing how to find the best cloves at your local grocery store. When searching for a bulb of garlic, avoid any that have started sprouting green stalks. These bulbs aren't dangerous to eat, but they will taste different. Once you've spotted a promising head of garlic, squeeze it gently to ensure that there are no soft spots. These bruised areas will be difficult to remove the peel from and are an indication that the garlic is less than fresh. You should also steer clear of any bulbs that have a strong smell; garlic only becomes fragrant once it has been crushed, so any garlicky scent is a sign of a damaged bulb.


Also, to keep your garlic fresh for as long as possible, keep it out of the refrigerator. Instead, store it somewhere cool and dark, like a corner of your cupboards or under a shelf on the counter. If kept in one piece, a bulb of garlic can stay fresh for months, while individual cloves will last for weeks. If you were overzealous with your new simple peeling trick and peeled a few cloves too many, keep the deskinned garlic in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use it before a week has passed so you don't waste any of this versatile, herbaceous ingredient.