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Sauteeing garlic

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  • JennS Apr 30, 2007 01:24 PM
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I know this question is really elementary but I googled and didn't find an answer. When sauteeing garlic in olive oil, how do you keep it from turning brown and bitter? Most recipes say to sautee in medium to medium-high heat, which I did. What went wrong?

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  1. Maybe your medium is higher than usual? Personally, I would never use medium on an electric range, the lowest possible temp is enough to bring out the flavour of garlic in olive oil.

    1. I sautee at a much lower heat: low to medium.

      1. I agree, low medium is the way to go. You barely want the garlic to sizzle.

        1. You saute the garlic for only a very brief period of time, mayb10-20 seconds if it is the only thing in the pan at that point, then you would quickly add the other ingredients. If it will be sauteed in combination with other things you would start with the longest cooking items and end with the garlic. This is a pretty basic explaination, as there are many variations to account for. The hotter the oil, the less time you will heat the garlic.

          1. I agree with all the posters, low heat so that you don't end up with brown burnt garlic. Some recipes, particularly Chinese, call for stir frying over high heat but you only do so until garlic becomes fragrant, about 20 seconds, then you combine it with your other foods, not enough time to burn the garlic.

            1. Jfood has taken a different tactic in a lot of recipes. If the goal is to infuse the oil with garlic flavor, then i place in the med-low oil and stir a bit. when it just starts to get some color it's removed.

              In many dishes Jfood now adds the garlic later than the recipe calls for. The garlic then has less of a chance of cooking too much and the flavor released is better.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jfood

                Jenn - are you starting the garlic off in cold oil and adding a bit of salt? then you can take them off the heat the second a few start to turn golden....or then quickly add your greens or whatever you are sauteeing......if you heat the oil and then add the garlic it will surely burn....salting brings out a bit of water which helps prevent or staves off burning slightly longer then usual i think....

              2. I agree that garlic takes lower heat, and can often be burnt to accommodate other veggies that are in the pan.

                When I'm sauteeing garlic with other aromatics (e.g. onions), I almost always wait to add the garlic until my onions are almost where I want them. Then I push the other veggies to the side of the pan, pour a drizzle of new olive oil in a small puddle, then add my garlic to it. Watch carefully and when it's just barely starting to brown, mix everything together and continue.

                You might also consider a courser mince.

                1. Another trick in addition to the above (all good tips: only sautee it for 30 seconds or so alone, lowering the flame and adding it later on in the recipe) is simply take the pan off the heat when it starts to look/smell like it's turning brown. You can't salvage burnt garlic once it turns on you but you can pull the pan off the heat before it gets to that point. Adding additional ingredients will also lower the temp in the pan and stop the garlic from burning.

                  1. Thanks for all the tips...seems pretty simple now. I was following a Cooking Light recipe for Pasta Primavera (May 2007 issue) and these were the instructions: "Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup onion, and saute for 2 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper; saute 3 minutes or until onion begins to brown. Add peas, and saute 1 minute. Add tomatoes; saute 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add half-and-half mixture and salt to pan; cook 1 minute or until sauce thickens, stirring constantly."

                    So according to that recipe the garlic would have been cooking over med-high heat for a total of 7 minutes! My sauce didn't quite thicken enough either, but that's another issue.