Getty Images

And how to fix them.

Hannah Hayes

“Are you serious?” is likely what you’re quietly saying to your computer screen at that headline above. “I’m messing up garlic too? Great. I just won’t leave the house anymore.” Wait, come back! We still think you’re a beautiful, unique snowflake, but we want to help you Master Chef this common ingredient, which too often is used half-heartedly or taken for granted.

In the thousands of years since humanity has been enjoying this allium, garlic has become one of the principal flavors of food traditions from Italy to Louisiana. But along the way we became complacent in our long term relationship with garlic, and forgot to take time to treat it with the kindness and consideration it deserves.

That’s why we’re here to remind you of the ways you might be mistreating your garlic, but can easily be salvaged.

  1. Buying pre-minced garlic. We’re all about a great time-saving convenience product whether it’s boxed jambalaya mix or frozen chopped onions, but those jars of pre-minced garlic cloves floating olive oil just aren’t good, and will likely add a funky, hot, yet stale taste to whatever you’re cooking.
  2. Peeling inefficiently. If you’re still a bit skittish about taking the side of your knife to remove garlic clove skins, try this trick. Put multiple cloves in a mason jar with a lid on it and shake it violently, perhaps to the rhythm of Harry Belafonte, and the skins will loose enough for you to quickly remove them by hand.
  3. Using a microplane. The more molecules of a garlic clove you rupture, whether it’s with a knife or a microplane, the more pungent its flavor. While mincing cloves finely will produce a strong garlic flavor, microplaning it will take it over the edge, producing an incredibly raw, burning taste.
  4. Buying old garlic. While buying garlic can be a little bit more mystifying than say apples or lettuce, there are a few things you can look for to make sure you’re buying fresh garlic. Make sure the outside cloves aren’t soft or dry, and if there’s a green stem sprouting from the middle, it’s past its prime.

You might also be interested in:

Refrigerating it. The best place to store garlic is on the countertop in a dry, cool place, preferably in a paper bag. Try to use it a week to 10 days after purchase for the best taste.