Tips for Preparing Garlic

The first step to using garlic is to separate the individual cloves. An easy way to do this is to place the bulb on a cutting board or hard surface and gently, but firmly, apply pressure with the palm of your hand at an angle. This will cause the layers of skin that hold the bulb together to separate.

Peel garlic with a knife or alternatively, separate the skin from the individual cloves by placing a clove with the smooth side down on a cutting board and gently tapping it with the flat side of a wide knife. You can then remove the skin either with your fingers or with a small knife. If there is a green sprout in the clove's center, gently remove it since it is difficult to digest.

You can find lively discussions about garlic's sulfur compounds, its enzymes, and the best way to prepare this allium vegetable. Some of garlic's health benefits have been linked to a particular sulfur-containing compound called allicin. Allicin is produced when an enzyme in garlic called alliinase breaks down another sulfur-containing compound in garlic called alliin. The crushing of raw garlic greatly increases the chance for this alliin-to-allicin conversion to take place. For this reason, some people prefer to crush raw garlic cloves in a garlic press when using garlic in a cooked dish. When garlic is being enjoyed in raw form, this same crushing garlic can take place not with a garlic press, but with thorough chewing.