Technique: How to peel and prep a clove of garlic
Mar 28, 2012, Updated Jan 09, 2023
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Oh garlic, this little post given to you hardly seems adequate in light of how much you give to us. What dish does one not desire to inhale that includes the word ‘garlicky’ in its title? Is there a better scent than that of garlic cooking in butter or olive oil and releasing its scent for all the world to swoon over? It’s possible my marriage ended over garlic. When I invited him to join me in partaking of the heady scent of a bit of garlic sizzling in olive oil as I made supper one evening, he shrugged and wondered why the big deal.
As much as we love garlic, we need just a single clove to prepare our rack of lamb. So that single clove ought to be in top condition for our ever-so-beautiful (and ever-so-pricey) meat. Which means starting with a fresh head of garlic, breaking off a clove, and making it lamb-worthy.
It used to be that I disliked prepping garlic so much that I took to mincing it with the skin still on it in my steel crusher (or worse, purchasing pre-peeled, lackluster cloves). No doubt I have thrown away far more garlic than I’ve actually used, when you consider how much garlic gets tossed with the mincing tool.
To swiftly and easily peel a clove of garlic, remove it from the head. On a chopping board, lay the flat side of your chef’s knife over the clove. With your dominant hand on the handle of the knife and your other hand pressing down on the flat side of the blade against the garlic, push down with all of the pressure you can muster from your upper body. The peel is now easily pulled off.
Don’t stop here with prepping that clove. Slice it lengthwise down the center to discover a little green germ. The fresher the garlic, the less chance of the sprout, but most grocery store garlic is going to present a germ. Pretty as it is, the green germ makes for bitter, bad flavor ju-ju, particularly when the garlic is used raw. Pull it out entirely, and proceed with the kind of garlicky swooning that requires no further explanation.