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The word garlic comes from two Saxon words; gar meaning “spear” and laec meaning "leak”. There are two basic varieties of fresh garlic, American, and Mexican (or Italian). American garlic pods are white and the more strongly flavored of the two.

Mexican or Italian pods are white with faint purple strips.

The easiest method of removing the skin from garlic is: cut the tips from both ends of a clove, then place the clove in the skinner (rubber tube pictured below) and roll it until you hear the dry skin crinkling, then dump the clove out. If not all of the skin has come off, roll it again. I do not remember the exact name of this device, but they are available in cooking stores.

The pungent odor and taste of raw garlic occurs only after the cloves are cut. The cloves contain a sulfur-based compound named allin and an enzyme named allinase. The two are separate until the clove is cut and they mix to form the pungent compound allicin. Mincing garlic produces more allicin than slicing, hence sliced has a milder flavor. Minced and pressed garlic are interchangeable in recipes. To get rid of the garlic smell on your fingers; wet them and a piece of stainless steel. Rub your fingers on the steel, and rinse in water. Any good quality stainless steel kitchen ware will do. Some cooking stores even carry small pieces of stainless steel for just that purpose.

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