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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.

              1. I love my Susi garlic press and no one is taking it away from me.

                1. I love my Zyliss garlic press. Easy to clean, throw in a bowl of water to soak - no problem. Of course, using it depends on what I am preparing.

                  1. Yeah, the Susi is the Zyless. It will never wear out, never break and eally so easy to clean, thorouogh and fast. I'll never give it up.

                    1. AAAYYYmen to the Susi! Had mine since before Tony Bourdain started shaving - lost the cleaner/pusher doodad years ago, but that's what running water is for. I just put the used press into whatever vessel is soaking in the sink, then pick out the wad of garlic fiber with a knife point and blast water through the bottom. Presto! it's clean...

                      Most of the objections to these things I've read complain that it makes one clove of garlic as powerful as three or four. To me that sounds like simple ingratitude, like complaining that your savings account is drawing too much interest!

                      1. If you take the shell off,and pick out the bit left in there great.Spreads the garlic flavor everywhere.

                        1. I use mine a lot, and I don't care what anyone says about that! One major plus for me is that my hands don't smell like garlic for the next 15 hours! Though it does sometimes secrete from my pores... ;-)

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Katie Nell

                            Katie, After handling garlic, merely run your fingers over a stainless steel knife under cold running water. Any trace of garlic on your hands will be gone. As to your pores, have some wine with a friend and play the sound track from "The Big Night". Your pores will be cleansed in no time.

                            1. re: Leper

                              I thought ATK tested the stainless steel trick and found that it did not work - because I know it has not worked for me :-(

                              1. re: weinstein5

                                it doesn't completely eliminate, but it does a very good job. you can get a barely there scent of it, but it's not stinky. i bought one of those little bars (just because i wanted to be able to use it like a soap) but anything made from stainless steel will work.

                              2. re: Leper

                                Yeah, yeah, yeah... still gonna use my press! ;-)

                            2. I've abstained from using a garlic press for a while. I'd always just mash the cloves with the side of my knife and chop them up a bit.

                              My folks got me a nice garlic press for christmas, though, and I've actually been using it quite a bit... especially when I decide to use a ton of garlic. The one I have is pretty nice... it flips out so that you don't lose much of the garlic at all.

                              Really, it just depends on the texture I'm going for. I use both the knife and the press quite a bit. Then again, I eat a ton of garlic.

                              1. Use both.

                                Cooked sauces, usually go with the knife, gazpacho, gotta go with the press.

                                1. Garlic presses went out of fashion 10-20 years ago, but the stigma has abated in the past couple of years as more high-profile chefs/cooks admit to happy use of them. Oxo is the one I use. I also smash, slice, mince with a knife as the occasion is opportune. Each technique produces a different result, and there is a difference when you are using garlic early in the cooking process or (and) at the end of that process. When you need to do a lot of cloves in a finely smashed mince, a cook without a prep staff can find the press a perfect tool. Use without shame.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Karl S

                                    Karl, you used the right words to put your finger on this! Out of fashion. Baaaad! Stigma! Ooooo! Admitting to something. Who me? Without shame? I am so naughty.
                                    Why should I care if somebody doesn't approve of a simple tool that gets the job done asap? He can smash up his own garlic any way he pleases in his own kitchen.
                                    Susi and I are doing fine. Happy together.

                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                      Yep. What happens in the kitchen... stays in the kitchen.

                                  2. DW and I are in agreement on this one. I consider my knife skills ok, but I would rather save the time in prep using the press, and spend it later in cleanup with everything else. I like the idea of the microplane, though, and will try that. Still have to peel the clove, which is slower than smacking it (not sure I want to run a crushed clove of garlic over a microplane).

                                    1. I use my microplane. Love it for garlic though the fingertips suffer from time to time.

                                      1. Most garlic presses are terrible. ATK tested out a ton of them, and came out with the Zyliss Susi as the winner. Most of the ones they tested they said were absolutely useless, and even they confessed that they were surprised they found one that worked at all.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Shazam

                                          Shazam, I find that garlic presses are a 1 trick-pony and they don't do the job any better than I can with a sharp knife and a few seconds of work. Presses are also a pain to clean throughly, so I will never have 1 in my kitchen.

                                          I can break down 5 lbs.of onions in a fine chop in less than 10 minutes, so a head of garlic isn't going to slow me down.

                                        2. I used one years ago and found the one I had to be more trouble than it was worth. Difficult to clean, and it seemed pretty wasteful. I'd usually end up with a garlic pancake. I obviously had a pretty crummy garlic press.

                                          I like chopping. Chopping copius amounts of garlic has probably been one of the best thing for my knife skills.

                                          1. I love my garlic press. I have the Oxo and I find it much easier to use and clean than a Microplane. And it's quick and easy and adds lots of garlic flavor (a plus in my book), though I will occasionally mince or slice if I feel the recipe calls for it.

                                            I have other kitchen tools that only do one job -- my Mexican citrus juicer comes to mind -- and yet I love them.

                                            1. I love my garlic press, but find that since I got my microplane I've been using it a lot less.

                                              Garlic press: good if I need to press over a whole bulb of garlic, and no good for pressing anything else. There's a good amount of the outermost layer of garlic that's wasted.

                                              Microplane: easier to use and clean if I just need one clove of garlic, plus it does a bunch of other things in the kitchen. I can get down to a tiny nub of garlic, too.

                                              I also just coarsely chop garlic a lot, so these two only get used if I need garlic pulp.

                                              1. Chopping and microplane here. Not out of any particular hatred for the garlic press, but I don't like gadgets that just do one job. I also like knife work and there's something deeply satisfying about pureeing garlic with a bit of coarse salt.

                                                1. I stopped using a garlic press when I discovered the Garlic Twist. It works better (though it always struck me that the design could easily be improved to be friendlier to those who don't have very strong hands (not a problem for me)) cleans up much easier and doesn't waste garlic.


                                                  I stopped using my Garlic Twist after taking some Thai cooking classes where I learned that for just a clove or two, a whack with the flat of a knife does the job more quickly, and for large amounts, the mortar & pestle does a much better job.

                                                  1. I have a press that's probably among the first ones ever made--very rudimentary! But it's easy as anything to clean. I like it because it's quicker than the mashing-with-the-side-of-the-knife method, and I really like a completely liquidized puree for things like hummous and salad dressings.