Monday, January 17, 2011

My Love/Hate Relationship with Garlic

I love using garlic in recipes, but I find garlic to be a pain in the rear.  I can't stand peeling it and mincing it, and the cleanup associated with it.  Especially when a recipe calls for only 1 clove of minced garlic, seriously?  Now if I needed more than that, I could get the energy up to peel it and lovingly mince it, but for just 1 clove - NO WAY!  This aversion of mine has lead to quite a bit of time being dedicated to figuring out ways to avoid this unpleasant task..... and the other side effects of dealing with garlic.  Thought I would share them with you, and if you have any ideas, please share them with me!

Frozen Minced Garlic
Several years ago, grocery stores came out with this neat product of frozen minced garlic (I don't like jarred minced garlic, so I was excited to see a frozen product).  They are rather expensive, but I bought them since they are sooooo convenient.  Whenever a recipe calls for a clove of minced garlic, I go into the freezer and pop out a little cube.  Easy Peasy.  My friend Edith (who was going through a particularly frugal time in her life) let me know that she had bought a few of them, and saved the containers.  Once she had a few saved up, she bought several heads of garlic, peeled them, and then minced them in a big batch in the food processor.  Then she took the minced garlic and spread them into the container, and put them back in the freezer!  I have done that a few times, I find the containers are good for the initial use, and then 2 refills before they start to break apart and need to be replaced.  One of our local grocery stores also sells packages of pre-peeled garlic in their produce section, so on a day when I know I will be refilling the trays, I go out and buy those to make it even easier!

Garlic Peeling Tube and Mini Slap-chop thingy.
One of the best inventions ever is the little rubber tube used to peel garlic.  You simply pop the unpeeled clove in, roll/rub the tube on a counter, and out pops a peeled clove.   Terrific!  I use it all the time - I even find it easier than smashing the garlic with your knife and slipping the peel off.  The other gadget is relatively new for me, and I haven't decided if I like it or not.  It's sort of like a mini slap-chop, and it nicely minces about 3 cloves of garlic (it's also a lot of fun to vent your frustrations by pounding on the little thing).  The reason I am not sure if I like it or not is that there is quite a bit of clean-up (taking the thing apart and cleaning the different components), so it's really not worth the cleanup for just 1 clove, but then it can't hold much more than 3.....
But I will share an organizing epiphany with you all..... I used to keep my garlic in the cupboard, my peeling tube in the drawer with my other little gadgets, and the mini-slap chop in another cupboard with my other chopping things (like the food processer) - SILLY!  I realized that these are single function items (I only use them for garlic), so I now keep them together in a little dish - the garlic, the peeler and the slap chop - so I don't have to go to 3 separate areas just to peel a clove of garlic.  Really, some things are just so obvious, I sometimes wonder how I manage to get myself dressed in the morning......

These handy rasps originated in the woodworking shop and over the last few years have migrated into the kitchen.  It is terrific for "mincing" garlic - well, I guess it makes more of a paste than a mince.  I do like to use these but I find that since a garlic clove is so small, I often end up grating my fingertips!  But, it's easy to clean and I especially like to use it when I need a clove of garlic for salad dressings, or any other dish where I may not want actual peices of garlic.

Garlic Press
To be honest, I had almost completely forgotten I own this thing.....and I wonder why I don't use it more.  It's pretty easy to clean, it makes a fine mince/paste, and I have heard that you don't even need to peel the clove.  It may be worth giving this old relic another shot.

Stainless Steel Soap
This has nothing to do with preparing the garlic, but once I have gotten over all the hassel of peeling and mincing, I really don't like the smell it leaves on my hands.  Rubbing your hands on stainless steel takes away the smell - it's incredible!  I usually just rub my hands on my faucet or sink as I am washing them, but when they are extra smelly I get out this stainless steel peice that's shaped like a bar of soap, so I can rub it all over my hands and get rid of the smell.  It was a neat little stocking stuffer my hubby got for me a few years ago, and it lives in the area underneath my sink, ready to handle those really stinky garlic jobs.  I am sure that hubby bought mine at my favourite overpriced kitchen shop, but my mom just told me that she got hers at the Dollar Store!

Bad Breath
Sorry folks, no tips here other than to make sure everyone around you eats garlic as well, so nobody notices that your breath smells like garlic!

So, anyone out there have any great tips for handling garlic? One thing I haven't found a quick solution for is the smell it leaves on my cutting board.  I find I have to clean it with a paste of lemon juice and salt - a bit of a pain..... any suggestions?

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