Apr 27

How to: Peel and Mince Garlic & TV Cooking Segment



Looking back on my first attempts at cooking, I am surprised that I was able to put something even remotely edible on the table, considering how little I actually knew. Peeling and mincing garlic was definitely one of those things that tripped me up. I’d resort to my old, clunky metal garlic press. It would mince that garlic relatively well, but then I’d have to spend the next 10 minutes cleaning the darn thing. Of course, I could have resorted to the pre-minced bottled garlic. Hmmm…

A couple of weeks ago, an acquaintance asked me if I used the bottled garlic. I’m certain that the horrified look that crossed my face completely offended her. Don’t get me wrong; I know that scooping out a dollop of pre-minced garlic makes meal prep more efficient. However, the minute of time that I save is not worth the compromise in taste. I promise that peeling and mincing fresh garlic will take you no more than a minute or two, especially when you get the hang of it. I figured this was the perfect topic for the next installment in my “How to” series.

Before I move onto the “how to”, I wanted to share a cooking segment I did this week on the local KUTV 2 News. I made one of my favorite lunch dishes, Salad Cups with Quinoa, Shrimp, Avocado & Lemon Dressing. Just click on the picture below to see the segment.

Just a heads-up – right before the segment, there was a story on the benefits of using olive oil on your hands to moisturize your skin. This will make sense once you watch the segment. It was kind of a funny moment.


How to do it:
The first thing you want to do is remove the papery skin from the outside of the garlic clove. When I first starting cooking, I tried to do this in a variety of ways – peeling with a small knife, pulling at the skin with my fingers and using those rubber rolling tubes. All left me frustrated and, inevitably, with little pieces of papery skin sticking like glue to my fingers.

The easiest way to remove that papery skin is by smashing it off. That’s right, this is where you get to release all of those pent-up aggressions from the day.

Place the clove underneath the heel end of the blade of a chef’s knife and pound on the smooth surface of the blade with your fist. It should just take one or two pounds to do the trick. This will not work with a small paring knife, so be sure to pull out your chef’s knife for this job.

Now use your fingers to completely remove the skin.

How to: Peel and Mince Garlic 1

Now that the papery skin is gone, it’s time to start slicing and dicing. This process is virtually identical to the technique I showed in How to: Chop an Onion.

First, carefully make a horizontal slice through the clove. Watch those fingers!

Next, cut several parallel slices from the root end of the clove (where the woody stem is located) to the tip of the clove.

Finally, cut across the clove in the opposite direction to make small diced pieces.

How to: Peel and Mince Garlic 2

The last step is to mince the garlic. Using the middle to the heel end of the blade, place the blade in the middle of your pile of diced garlic. Place your non-dominant hand on the of the blade (the dull edge) and use a rocking motion to mince the garlic with the blade. The tip end of the blade should rest on the cutting board the whole time. Sweep the accumulated garlic off the blade as needed.

That’s it! A perfectly minced clove of garlic in a matter of seconds.

How to: Peel and Mince Garlic 3

Recipes using minced garlic:
Cookin’ Canuck’s Baked Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs
Cookin’ Canuck’s Healthy Lasagne with Turkey, Pesto & Peppers
Foodiecrush’s Garlic Soba Noodles with Grilled Shrimp
Taste & Tell’s Honey Garlic Chicken
Bev Cooks’ Paprika Shrimp Over Creamy Egg Noodles

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Part Time House Wife April 27, 2012 at 3:55 am

I love that someone else in the world started off with out knowing how to peel garlic too! I used to try to scrape it off with my finger nails, getting that SHARP paper jammed under neath my figer nails…not pretty or fun. I love that I have at least grown to know how to smash and peel a clove…but haven’t gotten much past that 😉
I agree, the fresh stuff is a bazillion times better than bottled. I think I may have made the same face you did just reading it!
Great tutorial!


2 Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar April 27, 2012 at 4:48 am

Ohhhh how I love garlic. Also, you’re just the cutest on tv :)


3 Maria April 27, 2012 at 7:33 am

I always love watching you on TV! You are a super star:)


4 Cassie April 27, 2012 at 8:18 am

Great tutorial, Dara. The video is awesome!


5 Sommer@ASpicyPerspective April 27, 2012 at 8:36 am

Dara you did SUCH a great job. You are a stahhhh, girl! :)


6 KalynsKitchen April 27, 2012 at 9:58 am

I think you are ready for your own cooking show!


7 Paula- bell'alimento April 27, 2012 at 10:02 am

You are a supah-star! Love it! And Garlic ; )


8 Charlie April 27, 2012 at 10:55 am

Great to here your voice!

Have a Joyful Day!



9 Dorothy at Shockinglydelicious April 27, 2012 at 11:37 am

You are fabulous on TV!
Looking forward to seeing you at Camp Blogaway!


10 Kara April 27, 2012 at 11:48 am

I love that you posted this! I learned how to do this in a class I took but am equally grossed out by jarred garlic. Spread the word! :)


11 Barbara | Creative Culinary April 27, 2012 at 1:36 pm

I just recently convinced my daughter to forgo the press and start to mince with a knife; the presses are easy enough I guess but not so easy to clean and there is so much waste. It took her some time to get comfortable with the rocking business using a chef’s knife but once she got the hang of it…she got it!

Great series and you? Great in the video!


12 Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen April 27, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Love your tutorials! I so agree with you on the jarred garlic versus fresh, no comparison!


13 Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef April 27, 2012 at 10:02 pm

I’ve never used garlic from a jar either. It just sounds gross to me. Surely the garlic loses something from sitting in a jar all that time.

You’re very cute on TV :)


14 Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious April 29, 2012 at 2:03 am

Great tutorial. I didn’t know how to peel garlic for the longest time. And I absolutely hated how the smell would get trapped underneath your fingernails. So for a while I had to buy the peeled bags from Trader Joe’s. Shameful, I know but how was I supposed to know that all you had to do was pound it?


15 Deborah May 5, 2012 at 8:36 pm

You are so natural on tv!! There is very litle that is better than freshly minced garlic to me. Mmmm! (and thanks for the link!)


16 Michel in Quebec June 16, 2012 at 12:58 am

Yes, the garlic press or whatever the device is called isn’t fun to clean. Used one a few times decades ago and it convinced me to cease mincing garlic, also eating it, altogether. The device is a nuisance to clean, though with some patience and using a toothpick, f.e., maybe a person might want to use one of these contraptions. Still, it’s a total waste of money. You’ll pay maybe $12 for one today and then only want to cuss at the thing because it’s a nuisance to clean.

All we need is a cutting board, wide-blade knife, and of course, last but not least, fresh garlic. For each clove pulled from a bulb, place clove on board, cut off ends (of the clove, not the board), place knife blade flat on top of clove, gently press down or just give a little whack, easily remove the peel, and then slice and mince, chop, or leave it whole, how ever you wish to proceed. (Should be procede, like recede, accede, and intercede, f.e., but I guess people prefer proceed and especially proceeds, so procede was dropped, because all people want to do is receive things, like $, f.e. People always mess up language for silly reasons. :) )

Then, rinse off knife blade with hot water. It doesn’t require soap, for garlic is antibacterial and is non-fatty anyway. Same thing for onions, celeri, carrots, …, pretty much all vegetation matter. Meats, fish and dairy products are different, but I won’t use plastic cutting boards. Instead, I use a plate and then wash it with hot soapy water, letting the soap sit on the plate for 10-15 minutes before rinsing it off. Bacteria clings to plastic even after it’s been washed with soapy water, or so I’ve read, so I have no plastic cutting boards. They won’t enter my kitchen. Accès Interdit!

Freezer storage is different, but when I thaw out meats or fish that’ve been stored in plastic bags in the freezer, then these bags get to sit quite a long time with hot soapy water before the bags will be reused. Bacteria loves plastic, so I give them a hard time.

They don’t seem to be fond of wood, so I am.

YouTube videos:

I did a Web search to see if you have videos at YouTube and you don’t seem to have any. I checked for a cookincanuck channel there and also for Dana. There’s nothing for cookincanuck, while there is for Dana or Danas, but evidently not you. You might consider doing videos and upload them to a cookincanuck channel at YouTube. Why not?

I have never uploaded anything to the Web and think it’s a little slower than downloading is, but maybe you could upload some good cooking videos.


17 Michel in Quebec June 16, 2012 at 2:55 am

Chef’s knife and pounding?

I don’t know if all wide-blade culinary knives are called chef’s knives, but if they aren’t, then all a person needs is any wide blade. Even a butter knife can work, but a blade at least 1″ wide is preferable. The one I use is about the width of the knife blade shown in the picture of this page. Some butter knives have blades that will work for this though. It won’t work as well if you truly want to pound down on the blade, but if you only press, then a butter knife will suffice. And all we need to do is press.

Pounding vs pressing :

If we’re going to crush, mince, finely chop, … the garlic, then pounding once or twice on the blade is fine. Just don’t do it so hard that you risk damaging the knife. (I’ve damaged one chef or butcher knife, though this was when cutting a 13lb turkey in half. The handle was broken.) It’s still not necessary to pound or whack though.

If you don’t want to crush, mince, …, the garlic, then you can just lightly press down on the blade placed on top of a garlic clove laid on one of it’s sides. Gently press down and the peel breaks, splits, and then we can usually pull all of the peel easily away. If you wish to crush, …, then add more pressure, but this is by pressing, not pounding. With pressing, there should be no danger of damaging any part of the knife.

Preparation :

Cut the butt end and top tip off of the clove, first, but only the very ends. Otherwise, you can pound or apply pressue and not all of the peel will come off.

The butt or root end can require a little more removal than the top tip, but I remove as little as possible of either end. With some cloves, the top tip end only requires cutting off the top tip of the peel; not needing to remove the top tip of the actual clove, so flesh. I guess it depends on the type of garlic.

FilareeFarm. com, which is in Washington state, specializes in garlic and there’re several varieties, both soft and hard neck. It provides pictures and some text descriptions. And I learned of it over the past few days from a video uploaded by erochow at Youtube, a channel for GardenFork. tv, which is based in the state of Massachusetts. I don’t think we can see, with the pictures, which garlics have peels that we only have to cut off the tip of peels from, besides also the root base, but I’ve had this experience with some garlics. For some, the peel tip on top extends higher than the flesh of the clove, so we only have to cut off the top of the peel tip.

It’s not going to make significant difference, but I try to remove as little of the flesh as possible.

Garlic scapes :

I just learned about the scapes over the past two days. These are the top parts of the plants, where the flower bulbet forms. This whole part should be harvested before the flower blooms or blossoms, whatever (botanists can argue about terminology), and it apparently should be cut off starting just above the top leaf or leaves. This part of the plant can then be minced or chopped (or left whole) and then sautéed or grilled. There’re plenty of videos about garlic scapes at YouTube, but among those I’ve viewed and think are good are from the erochow and oldfarmlars channels.

Enhancing health benefits :

Garlic, like onion, I believe also fennel bulb, probably celeri, …, will provide more health benefits if at least sliced. Leaving the bulb whole doesn’t provide as much health benefit. And once sliced, chopped, minced, …, it should be allowed to sit at room temperature for at least 5 minutes in order to gain more health benefits from it. This is explained in pages for these food plants, and others, at WHFoods. com.

Also, I think the same is true for cabbage, or some crucifers anyway, including kale, but WHFoods. com provides the information. Check it, for I’m too novice about these things.

Disclaimer: I am not associated with that website in any way; only being a reader. I use the website a lot, but am only a reader or users. It seems very good for resource though.


18 Michel in Quebec June 16, 2012 at 3:26 am

Quote: “The last step is to mince the garlic. Using the middle to the heel end of the blade, place the blade in the middle of your pile of diced garlic. Place your non-dominant hand on the of the blade (the dull edge) ….”

That turns out funny. Of course press on the dull edge. :)

There’s nothing wrong with specifying that whatsoever and it might possibly help some people to avoid making the mistake of pressing on the sharp edge of a knife. (Ouch!) But you have to admit that it’s funny that this warning would ever need to be stated. It’s much funnier than placing your hand and pressing on the wrong side of a sharp knife, for that’s not funny at all. I have a very small knife that’s very sharp and I use it for small tomatoes, radishes, cucumber (not large ones), …, and I’ve only pressed, sometimes, but when I did that, then the very sharp edge pressed against another finger (wasn’t using a cutting board or plate) and this little knife left a very small cut, but it was painful. It was like a burning, very stinging sensation.

So, definitely be careful when working with sharp instruments. My cuts weren’t serious, but they were painful. And I’ve started to use that little, actually tiny, knife to cut the same foods on a wood cutting board. I’m a little tired of cutting my fingers. Again, not serious cuts, definitely not needing to see an MD or even pharmacist, but those cuts are painfully annoying.

Even paper cuts can be painful. I’ve also cut myself a couple of times with some grass, though don’t know what kind. It was called grass though. But the little knife left longer-lasting pain that was annoying. Very tiny, shallow cuts, not even spilling blood (not always anyway), but still painful and this sometimes lasted 2-3 days.

Always be careful when working with any sharp instruments or materials. And if you’re going to be hit in the head with a 2×8, then try to be hit with the flat side. :)


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