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Jan 21, 2007 06:44 PM

Garlic Press - Why the Hate?

It seems like a lot of people are aghast at anyone who uses a garlic press. I've been using one forever and I think they're great. Martha Stewart says they're wasteful, and I can kind of see her point since there's always a bit of the clove left after use. Anthony Bourdain and Rocco DiSpirito both say you lose flavor, which I do not agree with at all. Why such disdain for the garlic press?

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  1. I don't know about flavor loss, but I've found a sharp knife does the job of most kitchen gadgets.

    1. Interesting you should mention this - I just got my new issue of Fine Cooking and they reviewed several garlic presses and then address the flavor issue of minced vs. pressed. The gist was that their tasters felt the garlic used in a press raw was a more "aggressive" garlic flavor and a little offensive, but it was fine when cooked. I'm sure someone in this thread will explain why that might be the case.

      Personally, I haven't used a garlic press since years ago, when it broke. I found it more trouble than it was worth to clean. It took longer to deal with getting all the bits out of it than it did to swack a clove with a knive and then mince it up.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Andiereid

        I will jump in why that is the case - remebering an Good Eats episode - Alton Brown talked about the finer you dice garlic it allows more of the chemical (i forget the name) responsible for the garlic taste is released from the cells of the bulb -

        Depending on what I am doind and how I want the gralic taste to come through - for sauces wherre I want a garlic flavor to permeate through out I will use my grlic press - for something like roast chicken where I want surprises of garlic (and also it have roast a little bit) I will coarsely dice the garlic - might even leave it as whole cloves -

        1. re: Andiereid

          A garlic press definately seems to create a lot of loose oil in the process, whereas minced or chopped does not...hence the more aggressive flavor. Well that's my guess.

          I stay away presses mostly because you can never get them clean unless you wash them completely right after using, which is a hassle when cooking.

        2. Becaue they're very "unhip" in the American food scene these days starting back in the 80s. Don't you know that doing everything the hard way automatically makes it better? rofl The fact that few Italian households are without one apparently means nothing to us American know-it-alls...

          1 Reply
          1. re: MikeG

            the advent of food processors in the 80s and hand-blenders in the 90s might refute that.

            most chefs don't see the point of a gadget that essentially does just one thing, and is something they can do more quickly with a knife. home cooks don't typically have great knife skills.

          2. America's Test Kitchen seems to love them. In many cooking classes I take, the instructors seem to disdain them. I've never asked why (nor admitted that I use one often). Maybe they want you to practice your knife skills. Maybe it's the indiscriminate use of them whenever a recipe calls for garlic at all. Instead of controlling the intensity and "heat" by slicing (thick or thin), mincing (fine or course), crushing-sauteeing/removing, etc.- maybe some people just do use it for everything instead of thinking what's the best form for garlic for this dish and they just reach for the press. Maybe that's one reason they don't like them. I use my knife appropriately, but if I need a bunch of finely minced garlic, I won't hesitate to reach for the press.

            1 Reply
            1. re: markabauman

              I use a knife, but if you want minced or crushed fine, why not use a microplane? The little nutmeg grater would be a handy size. Just use the blade part.


            2. The flavor is definitely different between a press and garlic cut with a knife. I think the knife cut garlic has a sweeter, less bitter flavor.

              But it's not much of a difference, and most of my friends certainly can't taste it. For large quantities of garlic, or for a sauce where the garlic flavor is just background anyway, I'm using a press. Put a clove into my susi press with the peel, and crush the entire thing. What's the big deal about cleaning it? The whole assembly rinses clean if you get to it before the garlic dries out.