Before doing most of the below methods, you'll first want to separate your garlic head into cloves. This may seem tricky, but it's simple. Just place the garlic on your cutting board and use both palms of your hand to push down firmly.Note: I've found this actually works better if you have the root end facing upwards.You can, optionally, then trim the root end and tip of each clove before trying each method. However, this isn't necessary for the majority of methods.
Method 1: The Traditional Knife Method
This method works with the whole clove but will be even easier with the root end chopped off.Place the clove on your cutting board. Place the flat part of a wide knife over it, pressing down with firm but gentle pressure (if you want to avoid squashing the clove entirely). You should hear the noise of the skin crunching. Then remove the knife, and the garlic skin should be easy to peel and remove.Top Tips: You can also do this with the palm of your hand, but the knife will provide more leverage (and less stinky fingers). Also, avoid using ceramic knives, which may break in the process.
Final thoughts: there's a reason this method is a classic - it works. The problem is that it's really the best option for just a few cloves. Any more than that, and it quickly becomes long and tiresome. It is also likely to crush the garlic, which isn't great if you want to use full cloves for presentation - however, if you're going to chop/mince it, then it's great.
Method 2: Cutting the Garlic Head In Half
This method works best if you don't mind the cloves being chopped in half (i.e., if you plan on slicing/mincing/chopping it after peeling.)
This 'hack' consists of simply chopping the garlic head in half through the middle of the cloves (at the 'equator'). Once chopped, place the two halves, garlic side down, onto your chopping board and use the side of a wide knife to smash down onto the garlic firmly. The idea is that the cloves should then release, and you'll be able to lift and remove all the skin.The reality isn't quite as simple, and this garlic peeling hack does take quite a bit of force, but it's doable. However, I realized the reason why the garlic isn't releasing as well as you'd hope is because of where it's connected at the root. For that reason, I came up with a variation.
Variation: Slice root area
Using a sharp knife, you can first remove the root area and try this garlic peeling method. It becomes far easier. However, ultimately, it does take away the 'ease' factor of this hack.This is hard to do, and, as you can see in the image on the blog, I turned to a 'scalpel' type of blade - which arguably not everyone has just lying around.
Final thoughts: I'm on the fence with this one. I like the method, especially if you have an entire head (or multiple heads) that you want to peel in one go and don't mind them being chopped in half. However, it does take quite a bit of force to press down on the chopped head and actually get the cloves to release - so it's not foolproof!
Method 3: Hot Water
Place the garlic cloves in a bowl and pour over very hot water. Allow them to soak for about 1 minute, and then remove the peels. At this point, they should come off very easily (it's similar to blanching almonds, where the skin will steam and loosen in the water and slip away.I advise leaving the garlic cloves in the water and doing this one at a time. That way, if there are any 'stubborn' cloves, they get the benefit of the extra soaking time.
Final thoughts: I really like this method - especially if you want to keep the cloves whole for presentation. And as it's unlikely you're using the cloves raw, it doesn't matter that they're being heated slightly either. Obviously, the soaking time does amp up the time needed for this method- but I still find it FAR quicker than relying on manually smashing each clove, and it's hands-off prep time so that you can busy yourself with other things.
Method 4: The Jar Method / Shake Method
I placed the cloves in my large glass jar. You want the container you're using to be much larger than the amount of garlic you're peeling. This is so that it has plenty of area and surfaces to shake around and bump, etc. Once inside, secure the lid and shake the jar vigorously up and down and side to side for 20-30 seconds. If you notice that it needs more time, shake for a further 10 seconds. Then, pour the cloves out onto the worktop, and the idea is that the peels should come off fairly easily. If there are any stubborn ones, place them back in the jar and repeat.Note: I've seen some people attempt peeling garlic in a jar with the whole garlic head and achieve okay results. But separating the cloves will definitely provide a head-start.
I wasn't impressed with the original results, so I retried the method, first cutting off each clove's 'root,' and it worked much better. But I can't say as I'm massively impressed.
This garlic peeling trick can similarly be done using a large Tupperware container, bowl covered with a chopping board, or two large bowls (of the same size) that can be held together when shaking.Top Tip: I would suggest avoiding plastic containers, though, as the garlic flavor can become infused in the plastic and will be difficult to remove.I tested this method with two metal bowls of similar size and two glass bowls of the same size. The method does work but needed extra effort to finish the peeling (similar to the jar method) - although the bowls definitely worked better.
Final thoughts: I feel like I may be missing something here. This is a trick I've seen used countless times to peel garlic easily, and yet I just wasn't that impressed. I tried it several times, with different garlic heads, jars, bowls, etc., and always achieved okay' results. Some cloves would peel, and others wouldn't. By the time you're done shaking with as much force as you can muster to release the stubborn cloves, you're just as well using the classic 'smash' method, which is less effort (but takes more time).HOWEVER, this is a method I've seen work for multiple people, so feel free to experiment. Top Tip: This method seems to work best with older garlic where the skin is already a little loose. Then the shaking allows it to just break and fall away from the cloves. It's also best to use large amounts of garlic to smash into each other and help the process along. Feel free to give this a go, though, because, if it does work for you. It's a great method for when you want large quantities (like multiple heads of garlic) at one time.
Method 5: In The Microwave
Add your garlic cloves to a microwave-safe bowl along with cold water and microwave for between 30-60 seconds. I checked mine at 30 seconds, and it was a no-go. I did it for a further 30 seconds, and the peel was able to be peeled off.
Final thoughts: Even when I could get the peel off, it definitely wasn't as easy as I'd hoped, and this isn't a method I would even bother to try again. The peels were slippery and annoying to handle, and it was more annoying than helpful.
Potential alternative microwave method
Wrap the entire garlic bulb or your individual cloves inside some damp paper towel and microwave for 15-20 seconds (15 for high-powered microwaves). Then remove it from the microwave, and rub lightly with the paper towel. The cloves should easily pop out of their skins.
Final thoughts: This method works well and is one I'd definitely use again - just try not to heat the garlic too much. At 15 seconds the garlic was easy to peel and just a little warm. At 30 seconds, the garlic was also easy to peel (of course) but the garlic was very warm and starting to soften. For that reason, I suggest 15 seconds (or 20 if you have a low-powered microwave).
Method 6: Remove With A Paring Knife
This seems to rely on careful knife skills, placement of fingers, and specific twists/motions;
First, hold the garlic head, root side up, and choose a sharp paring knife with a pointed tip. Using the knife, stab into a clove, on the left-hand side, near to where the curved outer part of the clove end (and the flat part begins).Now, you need to do some wiggling/ twisting. First, do a firm twist with your knife to try to loosen the clove from where it is attached to the root. Then continue to gently shake to loosen it from its skin - and pull. The clove should emerge from the head- skin free.After the first clove is removed, I find it easiest to use a finger to hold onto the other side of the clove I'm trying to remove, holding it in place and stopping the clove from breaking in half when twisting the knife.Top Tip: This method is easiest when you first sever the section where the cloves are attached to the garlic head root. However, this takes time, and even the sharpest knife can struggle. As with a previous method, I do this with a Stanley knife/ scalpel - so, not great. It's also a safety hazard, and no-one needs to risk stitches for some garlic!
Final thoughts: This method DOES work; it just requires practice to actually learn the correct method to make this work (almost) every time- and even then you'll get the occasional dud. So I suppose it all depends on if you're happy to put in the time to learn the method- it's definitely not the fastest way to peel garlic from the get-go. I find this method works best when you only need a few cloves - which you can get directly from the head, no separating required.
BONUS METHOD: Don't peel it
Yes, you read that right. If you have a garlic press, you can get away with not peeling the garlic clove at all before mincing it. Just press the cloves in the press, skin and all. You can then remove the peel from the press afterward.The downside of this method is that it only produces minced garlic, and the yield is less than if you were to peel it first, as some stay stuck in the press with the peel. This can be minimized by peeling just a strip of the skin from the clove and placing that part face-down in the press. This method is best if you only need a small amount of garlic.
Finally: Using a silicone tube
This is one I haven't tried as I wanted to use 'tool-free' methods; however, it is something I've seen a few times online. I've decided to mention this method because if you have a silicone mat in your house, you can avoid buying a new gadget. Just place your cloves on the silicone mat, fold over the mat and rub back and forth. The friction should cause the peel to come off the cloves, and it takes a firm but not 'annoying' amount of pressure.
Read the FAQ section just above this card for answers to several FAQs