Sure, you could go get yourself a fancy-schmancy garlic peeler — but there’s another way to get the skin off your garlic, fast and easy!

What’s the secret to peeling garlic?

For one single garlic clove, pulled from the papery skin of a whole head of fresh garlic, you just place the clove on a flat surface and press firmly with the flat of a knife or the heel of your hand. The tough base of the clove will split, given enough pressure, and the fresh white garlic clove will slip right out of its skin, ready to use.

Now, that is all fine and good, you may say — if you’re only going to need one or two cloves of garlic for a dish. But sometimes, if you’re making pickles, for example, or cooking up your end-of-season tomato harvest into a generous batch of pasta sauce for a crowd, you need to deal with whole heads of garlic.

One clove at a time? That could take forever!

Here’s how to peel a whole head of garlic in under 10 seconds, courtesy of Todd Coleman and the delicious team at SAVEUR magazine:

So, does it work?

Josh Whitkin says no; Mike Liv says no; but in my test — yes, it works. In fact, this is how I’ve always done it, as instructed by my chef friend Paul.

Here are a couple of tips that may help you, too:

  1. You need to be absolutely sure that first smash of the hand is a good one, so the cloves are well separated from the base.
  2. When you go to smash the garlic head, you might want to drape a dishcloth or something over it, so the cloves don’t go skittering and flying half across the kitchen.
  3. Do use two large bowls. (In their tests, according to what we see in the videos, Josh used a bowl with a cutting board for a lid and Mike used two small bowls, instead of two large bowls. It’s my theory that it makes a difference in how the garlic tumbles around when you “shake the dickens out of it” — it’s all about the abrasion, baby! But we’ll leave that for the physics geeks to explain… Bottom line, however, in my books, two good big deep bowls are definitely the way to go.)
  4. The fresher your garlic, the easier it will peel.

Have you tried this method of peeling garlic? Give it a whirl, next time you’re playing in the kitchen, and let us know how it goes!

Garlic pic: copyright © 123RF Stock Photos

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Sam

    If you have two same sized metal bowls, crush a whole garlic bulb lightly then throw everything, paper and all into one bowl, hold both together and shake vigorously for a couple of seconds. Open and tada! all the cloves should be peeled, keep going if still covered :D

  2. Eve

    saw this months ago and started peeling garlic this way!

    after trial and error, I would have to say 2 smashes to head of garlic (no more, don’t want to bruise it) and two deep big bowls is the most effective way.

    what a tip! now I look forward to peeling garlic, makes a good arm workout too ;)

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