Peeling large quantities of garlic

wcthomasNovember 12, 2007

Hi Folks,

I have about 100 heads of soft neck garlic (Inchelium Red) left over from this year's crop that I need to chop and freeze. The garlic has been well cured, having hung under my patio roof for four months, and the outer wrappers slip off easily. That last dang skin, however, clings tenaciously to the clove, and even heavy crushing with the side of a knife removes only half of this last skin. The other half has to be painstakingly removed by hand (as in long thumb nail) and takes forever. I spent over an hour peeling and chopping 10 heads, and with 90 left to go I need a better way!

I tried using a mini food processor with some success, but not good enough. The skins tend to cling to the walls of the food processor, which is good, but so does some of the garlic, and some small peels remain in the chopped garlic even after hand picking most out. This method does cut the time in half and hopefully the remaining bits of skin will not detract from the final dish, but the yield loss is too high.

Does anyone out there have any tried and true methods to speed this chore up? How do the big chopped garlic processing companies do it? I'm sure they must have large and expensive machines, but perhaps the principles of their method is applicable to a smaller scale operation in my kitchen. Any ideas?


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Two methods,but I HAVEN'T tried these with garlic though.
1. Wave a blowtorch over the garlic cloves.The heat and resulting steam loosens the skin.(Works very well with tomatoes).Expect a bit of charring (paper,not flesh).And I will assume your intelligence precludes my three page writ on fire prevention and disclaimer of liability.
2.Crush the garlic and put it through a food mill,or perhaps a sausage grinder with small holed plate.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 7:30AM
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Thanks Alphonse! I think I'll pass on the blowtorch method ;-) The meat grinder approach may work, but I can't see how it will separate the skins from the cloves, i.e. the skins have to go somewhere.

I did find a method that speeds up the process. I dip the cloves in boiling water for about 15 seconds, then immediately into ice water. Half or more of the skins come right off and the balance peels more easily.

Once peeled and chopped, I spread the garlic out in one quart ziplock bags about 1/4 inch thick, and stack these flat in the freezer (I call them "garlic books"). When needed, I just break off the amount I want, drop it into whatever dish I'm making, and re-zip the bag. So easy!


    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 8:51AM
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You can zap cloves of garlic in the microwave to loosen the skins. Depending on how many cloves, and your microwave, 10 to 30 seconds should do it. Let them cool, the skins slip right off.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 5:02PM
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They make garlic peelers that work marvelously, they are just a tube of silicone, you put a few cloves in roll once or twice between the counter and your hand and all the skins are off. They cost about $6

    Bookmark   December 5, 2007 at 7:30AM
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Holy cow, Duane, that "shake in a metal bowl" method really works!!! Virtually all of the skins off in a matter of seconds. For anyone peeling more than one bulb of garlic (does anyone ever peel less?? ;-), you have to try this method!

Duane, you saved me hours of tedious work! If you ever get out to central New Joisey, I owe you a drink. Heck, I owe you a dinner!



    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 12:20PM
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the problem with the metal-bowl shaking method is it bruises the garlic a bit

you can make a large version of those garlic-peelers that are just tubes that rub off the skin by buying some of those placemats that are a criss-cross netting material, and lining some garlic on one edge and folding over the mat like a tube and then do the rubbing with a baking/sheet pan.

anyway, why do you want to freeze all that garlic? Won't it last until your next crop? (or at least a lot of it anyway)

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 4:48AM
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Hi Peanuttree,

Thanks for the tip! I'm not worried about bruising since I chop the peeled cloves and immediately freeze them.

Most of the cloves had a green core, i.e. germination was about to start. I kept them hanging outdoors until late November and then moved them to my kitchen, but there is no way they would have made it until the next crop, indeed probably not until January. The metal bowl shaking method made peeling so easy that I was able to process the heads quickly and stack up my garlic books in the freezer.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 2:05PM
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Tom in NJ,

I do a "cooking with herbs" demonstration for organizations in the area. May I use your "garlic book" as part of the program? I don't charge for the presentation, and it emphasizes using herbs instead of salt; the added health benefits of herbs in cooking; and how to grow, dry, freeze, preserve in oil, and otherwise enjoy herbs year 'round. I'd really appreciate adding a "garlic book" to the program and I think the audience would benefit from yet one more way to preserve and use garlic.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2008 at 2:41PM
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Hi Marlinggardener,

Sure, feel free to spread the "garlic book" method. I find it very convenient and takes little freezer space. I hope your groups find it equally helpful.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2008 at 6:36PM
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Thank you for permission to use your idea. I'll be sure to tell everyone where it came from. Yankees do have good ideas!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 3:31PM
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Soaking the cloves in warm water for 10-20 minutes before peeling them makes the job very easy.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 9:01AM
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