Everything You Need to Know About Cooking With Garlic

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Garlic is a staple ingredient in kitchens around the world, used to provide flavor in a variety of dishes such as soups, sauces, and pasta. With a distinctly pungent taste and nutty, spicy aroma, it has the potential to elevate even the most basic dish, transforming what was bland into an enticingly delicious culinary experience. That said, the way that garlic is prepared will have a significant impact on how its flavor develops, and understanding the differences is key to achieving the results you desire. Keep reading for our guide to cooking with garlic.

Cutting for Flavor

When garlic cells are damaged, such as by cutting or chopping, they release a compound called allicin, which is responsible for the plant’s pungent aroma. If you prefer a stronger, more intense garlic taste, your best bet is to finely mince or grate your garlic. For a milder flavor, slice or chop the garlic into larger pieces. Crushed whole cloves will yield the most subtle flavor of all.

Let it Sit

Once you’ve chopped or minced your garlic, let it sit for about 10-15 minutes to allow the allicin time to develop. The longer it sits, the stronger the flavor will become, so if you’re after a more serious kick, you can leave your chopped garlic for up to an hour.

Tone it Down 

Allicin is a relatively unstable compound, and it’s easily destroyed with heat and acid. For recipes that require a milder garlic flavor, consider pre-cooking your garlic or tossing it with a little lemon juice before adding it to your dish. This will help to mellow out the taste and bring out a slight sweetness that will complement the other ingredients without overpowering them.