removing the germ from garlic before cooking chef jeremy fox jacques pepin and david lebovitz

People are always asking me for little tips about cooking, so today I thought I’d share two tips about garlic. Before I get to the that, I have my own rules regarding garlic: don’t buy pre-peeled cloves or that God-awful chopped garlic in oil.

The first tip is that you might want to remove the germ from the center of your cloves before chopping it. It’s somewhat of a debate, and chefs like Jacques Pepin and David Lebovitz all have their opinions (some of which can be found here). Last year, in Jeremy Fox’s cookbook On Vegetables, every recipe that calls for garlic specifies to remove the germ. I tend to fall in the “remove it” camp. This means a little more work, and you definitely can’t just smash the clove or throw it in a garlic press (which I never use). Try it and let me know what you think.

Second, chef Michael Solomonov turned me on to a method to reduce the pungency of raw garlic. In his hummus recipe, which can also be found in his Zahav cookbook, his instructions are to put unpeeled cloves of garlic in the food processor and grind with fresh lemon juice and salt. You allow the mix to sit for ten minutes before pressing it in a fine mesh strainer, leaving you with a garlic-infused lemon juice. This is the base for his tehina, and hummus. The lemon supposedly neutralizes some of the compounds in the garlic, and gives mellower flavor that’s easier to digest.

If you’d like more info on garlic, there’s a great article by Daniel Gritzer on Serious Eats about the different methods of mincing garlic.

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Chris Spear

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