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Buying garlic: peeled cloves vs. whole bulbs?

I always thought that pre-peeled cloves of garlic -- which one sees at some supermarkets (e.g., Whole Foods), often sold in pint-sized containers -- must be less flavorful to cook with than garlic one peels oneself from regular, whole bulbs. But an acquaintance who seems kinda serious about food assures me that's not so. What do Chowhounds think?

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  1. I just think once peeled they go bad faster.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sivyaleah

      Actually I think fresh loses its quality at about the same rate, but it's hidden under the paper peel.

      I got my first jar a couple of weeks ago, and certainly it produces a strong garlic flavor.

      I'm told that Chinese imported peeled garlic is less flavorful, but it was an American grower I heard say it.

      I've also had decent luck, for convenience products, with Indian garlic paste in jars - they also have ginger paste and (surprise) garlic/ginger paste.

    2. I agree. Peel your own. It isn't that hard.

      1. Concur.
        Peeled will taste fine. At first. You won't get the shelf life out of them.

        DT

        1. And actually, I think that peeled stuff has a preservative sprayed on them! :P Go natural if you can! :)

          --Dommy!

          1. hello, I think the pre-peeled stuff might be o.k. when you have a dish that requires a lot, AND good fresh garlic is impossible to find because of your geographic/seasonal predicament. Right now great garlic is at its peak. I cringed when a prominent food writer (M.Bittman) praised the pre-peeled stuff for some gobs-of-garlic preparations, but I realized he was writing mid-winter for a audience that doesn't always have access to serious produce markets. Homemakers who need to work fulltime elsewhere get into a time crunch, and I can see the pre-peeled stuff being a helping hand. I tested my prejudices by trying out some of the peeled stuff--it lacked pizzazz, but I'm not cooking for a big family either. In the end a cook's gotta trust his/her own gut/palate/pocketbook.