Let’s talk about garlic, shall we? Most people know and understand that garlic can add flavor and nutrition to their plate. But what’s the best way to prepare garlic? Should you throw it in whole, mince it, chop it, press it? A customer recently came into the store asking which was better. After hearing that chopped garlic was better than crushed or pressed garlic, it got my dietitian sense all a tingling. So I began to research the topic at hand.
Here’s what I found out:
When it comes to garlic, there is a whole lot of “he said she said” going on. In reality, it probably doesn’t really matter which way you prepare your garlic, as long as you’re doing something to break it down.
If you’re wondering why, it is actually pretty simple. When you crush, chop, mince or slice your garlic, you stimulate an enzymatic process that converts alliin, a phytonutrient, to allicin, a compound which many of garlic’s health benefits are attributed to. The real kicker? To get the health benefits of this conversion, you actually have to let your garlic sit for about 10 minutes prior to adding it to your dish. Being the impatient dietitian that I am, I can confess that I very rarely let my garlic sit at all. I usually just toss it right in to whatever I’m cooking. Whoops! Apparently my attempt at convenience comes at a price I’m afraid.
Luckily, there is a relatively easy way to incorporate this recommendation. Instead of adding your garlic at the beginning of your meal prep, add it towards the end. Not only will this improve the health benefits of the dish, but it doesn’t require you to sit around and wait for your garlic to breath.
As for best garlic flavor, that’s probably up to you. I couldn’t find any research that really showed one method was better than the other. After doing a little digging, it seems as though some chefs believe pressing or crushing garlic allows for better flavor to be released while others think a press makes for lousy flavor. Its very inconclusive. In my opinion, crushing garlic may also allow for better release or stimulation of the enzymatic process needed, but that’s purely my own conjecture. Even if it is “better” its probably a very small difference than prepping garlic any other way.
So in the end, I’ll let you decide the best way to break down your garlic. No matter the route you choose, just remember to let it sit for a bit or consider adding it at the very end of your cooking prep.
How do you prep your garlic? Any studies out there that show otherwise?