To press or not to press? The humble garlic press has found its way into many kitchens as a shortcut to mincing garlic. In school they made a whole lot of hoopla about always dicing your garlic and never using a press. We are going to try to see if there is really much of a difference between pressed and minced garlic! I think a little background to start is necessary though.
So let’s talk the garlic itself. It’s really a fantastic little bulb packed with flavor. Now, pretty much everyone knows about garlic but they might not know what a variety of flavors are locked inside those tasty little bulbs. It’s in the same family as leeks, onions and chives. It’s got a strong, spicy pungent taste that mellows out after cooking. Now roasting garlic is actually the best way to mellow it’s flavors that also adds an almost nuttiness to it. On top of that, roasted garlic becomes very soft and smooth and can be spreadable (imagine on toast with butter, yum!)
Lots and lots of recipes call for garlic, so what’s the best way to prepare it? Before we can talk about crushing or mincing, you’ll want to prepare the garlic. By that I mean peeling it. I have heard about several ways to peel garlic before hand (smashing with flat side of knife, using two bowls and shaking vigorously) but I have discovered this wonderfully simple garlic peeler. It’s literally just a silicone tube that you put your garlic in, apply pressure, and roll. It came with my garlic press and honestly I had no idea what it even was until I found a video of someone using it. It’s a worthwhile cheap investment (found some online for 99 cents!) and your garlic filled life will never be the same.
Let’s start with garlic press. To use your press, you will take it and pop in 1-2 peeled cloves depending on the size. Then, align the little plunger in the ‘garlic cavity thing’ and squeeze! Scrape off your deliciously pressed garlic and prepare however else you need to. Now I get that, that’s pretty straightforward for anyone that’s used it, but hey maybe you haven’t before! Nobody is turned down around here, garlic enthusiasts or not. One thing about garlic presses I’ve noticed is that my family goes through them a lot. Growing up we went through one about every other year. For such a relatively simple kitchen gadget, you’d think getting a good one would make it last. More commonly than not the pin that holds everything together would either become rusty and wear out or the part holding the pin in place would break and fall off.
With this in mind, when I went out to search for my own garlic press, I tried to find something simple and sturdy. I settled on a relatively cheap one that was simple but had good ratings. If you’re spending more than 15 dollars make sure it’s a commercial grade one meant for serious kitchens because otherwise I can’t imagine it will hold up much better than a cheaper one. So far, it’s only been about six months and I love it, but time will tell how well this bad boy holds up.
Comparing the two different ways to prepare garlic requires some standards. So I used as close to the same amount of garlic as I could (roughly a teaspoon minced or pressed) and then sautéed it (at medium heat for 15 seconds with 1/4 tsp of olive oil). Lastly, I gave it a good whiff to check smell and then tasted it. Below is a picture of the garlic minced versus pressed. The minced definitely doesn’t release as much liquid as the pressed. Aside from that they mostly look the same.
Onward to sautéing! They both seemed to sauté up nearly the same. I would say the minced garlic was a little easier to spread around as the pressed really liked to just sort of clump together. I imagine with other ingredients in a pan it would help break up the clumps either way. Minced and crushed both gave a great aromatic scent that wasn’t discernible from one to the other.
Lastly, the truest test of all. The taste test! Okay, so to really cut to the chase, they both honestly taste the same. Now maybe I should have made some garlic bread and not just tried a sample of each without anything else, but I figured this is the purest way to tell. Both were deliciously garlicky good! Couldn’t really tell the difference. Now I didn’t do it blindfolded or anything so maybe my decision was biased because I want to be able to use a garlic press, but I feel like I’m usually pretty good at objective judgments.
Overall I would say, go garlic press happy! If there is a noticeable difference it really has to be so negligible that you aren’t going to notice it with almost everyone in almost every dish. Fear not garlic users, press on. And if there are any new to garlic folks out there, go ahead and take the shortcut, there seems to be very little missed! Thanks for reading!