Reducing the Grr! Factor: Garlic skin

What’s a Grr! Factor? When preparing a meal, something happens that is not bad enough to warrant a launch into your best expletives, but definitely reduces any pleasure you are having with your work … that’s the Grr! factor.

The first one up is garlic skin. When you cook real food, your hands are often wet, or sticky, and your work surface is cluttered. Introducing a garlic head into this scene can cause Grr! to occur. Garlic skin sticks to everything. It flakes, it flies. Trying to pick a garlic skin out of the chopped garlic with fingers that have garlic skin sticking to them … well, need I say more?


Garlic with and without the outer skin stripped photo
The garlic head on the left is untouched. The head at the right has been stripped of its outer skin.

Strip the garlic head of its skin the first time you use it. With clean, dry hands, hold the garlic head over the compost bin, or trash, and rub. Rub until all of the outer skin is gone. On supermarket garlic, this will be easy. Fresh, homegrown or market garlic is a little more reluctant to release the skin. On the plus side, the less-dried skin doesn’t fly so badly, either.

When you go to use a clove of garlic from a head that has been stripped, you will find that the Grr! Factor has almost disappeared. You still have skin on the garlic clove, but that skin will usually come off in one or two pieces, not causing the problem the outer skin does.

Stripping the outer skin does remove some of the protection from the head of garlic. But as you watch the dry skin fly away from the head, you have to wonder how much protection it had from that papery, dry skin anyway. Real-food cooks tend to use garlic at an alarming rate, so there is little chance to feel any loss of protection.

If you don’t already do this, store your garlic in a covered, ceramic container (with ventilation). Garlic keepers, made specifically for storing garlic are available everywhere, often at very low prices. Treat yourself.


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