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Question: Is pressing garlic an acceptable substitute for mincing garlic?

a
Angela Roberta Jan 7, 2008 11:56 AM

I'm just not good at mincing garlic. I find pressing it so much easier. Is there a radical difference in taste? If pressing makes the taste stronger, could I use a bit less than the recipe calls for?

Thanks.

  1. q
    quelle4 Jan 7, 2008 12:06 PM

    I think that pressing the garlic is certainly an acceptable substitute for mincing. When you press the garlic, it will take on a stronger, slightly more bitter taste, while mincing the garlic makes it slightly more mellow. In the end though, this rarely matters.

    If you are planning to cook the garlic, either in a stew, sauce, or other way, it won't make much of a difference. Only if you are eating the garlic raw in a salsa or a dressing, will it make much of a difference. Personally, I like the taste of garlic very much and I more often add additional garlic than use less then the recipe calls for. So I would not use less when pressing the garlic, however that's a matter of personal preference.

    1. c
      ChiliDude Jan 7, 2008 12:13 PM

      Why not? Garlic is garlic, any way you use it. Oops! I stand corrected...don't buy that stuff that comes in a jar that's drowned in citric acid.

      1. sirregular Jan 7, 2008 12:23 PM

        There wouldn't be much difference in taste, nor strength. The only difference would be in the tooth, but it's not often that you're looking to add texture with garlic anyhow. If pressing garlic is easier for you than mincing, by all means, press it!

        My Blog: http://www.epicureforum.com

        6 Replies
        1. re: sirregular
          Becca Porter Jan 7, 2008 01:15 PM

          Well, I do believe there is a difference in taste. Garlic gets stronger the finer it gets, because of a reaction when the two layers combine. Pressing does make it a little stronger. If I I want to soften the flavor of garlic, I make sure I chop it by hand. However 99% of the time I use my press.

          1. re: Becca Porter
            scuzzo Jan 7, 2008 01:45 PM

            Is this true? By two layers, are you saying one layer is the papery skin? Where did you learn this?

            1. re: scuzzo
              Becca Porter Jan 7, 2008 02:06 PM

              Alton Brown. I forget the names. They both start with an A I think. It is cell walls I believe. Certainly not the papery outside.

              Edited to add link: http://www.carnegiemuseums.org/cmag/b...

              1. re: Becca Porter
                c
                chilibaby Jan 7, 2008 04:39 PM

                Here is the transcript from AB's garlic episode:

                http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/GEFP/index.htm

                He discusses how the enzyme alliinase breaks down the alliin into allicin, which creates the strong garlic odor. Smashing and pressing increase this reaction, as does really fine chopping, compared to more coarse chopping. You can find similar info on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alliin

                Although I chop garlic, I think that pressed garlic typically works. For some dishes, I prefer a chunkier rough chop than the fine mince from a garlic press. The other factor to consider is that you will get considerably more 'juice' by pressing than with chopping and the tiny pieces may have a tendency to burn quickly, which would impart a bitter taste.

                1. re: chilibaby
                  coastie Jan 7, 2008 04:53 PM

                  i believe the difference is that in smashing garlic versus mincing it more of the cell walls are smashed. increasing the reaction. vs a minced the reaction is going on but not as much of it.
                  What is difficult about mincing garlic for you -? the shape is awkward - i cut one side off to make flat then slice and mince OR i really like to take a fork and some course salt and mash it up on the cutting board. I think it all depends on how you are going to prepare the garlic after that.
                  I think the biggest risk is if its first in the pan i would shorten its cooking time as even the slightest burnt garlic ruins most dishes.

                  1. re: chilibaby
                    scuzzo Jan 7, 2008 08:44 PM

                    Thanks! This was awesome to learn.

          2. k
            Karen_Schaffer Jan 7, 2008 08:22 PM

            I almost always press, unless I want slices or slivers. In a vinaigrette, I'd much rather have pressed garlic than merely minced.

            Regarding the strength of the garlic , the flavor will depend on so many other factors as well, probably even more so: the size of the clove (I mean really, what size is "1 clove of garlic!"), the variety of garlic, the age of the head, etc.

            But I think I get a more lingering flavor in cooked dishes if I used sliced or slivered garlic. Haven't done side by side comparisons, just an impression.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Karen_Schaffer
              scuzzo Jan 7, 2008 08:45 PM

              I have heard that garlic clove size is sort of irrelevant. The bigger cloves pack less punch than small gloves, per amount of volume. So apparently a small clove has the same amount of flavor as a big one.

              1. re: scuzzo
                m
                madball911 Jan 7, 2008 08:48 PM

                But the bigger cloves can sometimes have a green thingy in the middle (called the germ), that can alter the flavor of the garlic in a not-pleasant way. I always remove the germ if it's even slightly green.

                1. re: scuzzo
                  k
                  Karen_Schaffer Jan 7, 2008 09:32 PM

                  I've never noticed small cloves being stronger than big cloves. There has always seemed to be a pretty direct correspondence between volume and amount of flavor. If I'm making vinaigrette for 2 people, I use the smallest clove I can find, and it works well to keep the flavor from being overwhelming.

                  Some varieties can be stronger than others, but unless you grow your own, you don't usually have access to more than a couple varieties.

                  1. re: Karen_Schaffer
                    scuzzo Jan 7, 2008 09:46 PM

                    Not sure if I'm right, but I did recently hear it somewhere. I love garlic, so I just always use a lot, especially if it's just for me.

                    1. re: scuzzo
                      Becca Porter Jan 8, 2008 08:06 AM

                      I read that too, scuzzo. It might have even been from Cook's Illustrated.

                      1. re: Becca Porter
                        scuzzo Jan 8, 2008 09:10 AM

                        Yes! I read it in Cook's while sitting in Barnes and Noble.

                2. re: Karen_Schaffer
                  JoanN Jan 8, 2008 08:42 AM

                  Just another thought, here. There are many different varieties of garlic (and no, I don't mean elephant, which is something else entirely) and each has a different flavor and differing degree of pungency. Also, garlic becomes more concentrated as it slowly dries out after harvest. And if it's been refrigerated, it will be even less "garlicky" and more "oniony." So if we live near Gilroy or are buying locally-grown garlic from a farmer's market, it's going to have different strengths and flavor components than if we bought out-of-season garlic at the supermarket.

                3. b
                  bnemes3343 Jan 8, 2008 08:53 AM

                  For a mini master class in how to chop, press, slice, etc., garlic, check out this 5 minute clip from Jacque Pepin:

                  http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-us&f...

                  1. Gio Jan 8, 2008 09:02 AM

                    My family members don't smash, mince or press. They peel the garlic then stand there with the garlic in one hand and a paring knife in the other and slice as if one were peeling an orange. Me... I smash, mince and press depending on what use I have for the garlic.
                    I do not use pressed garlic for cooking.

                    1. p
                      PDXpat Jan 8, 2008 09:17 AM

                      I'm inclined to ask "Why Not?", but really, no-one else can answer this question for you.
                      If pressed garlic tastes OK _to_you_ as a substitute for minced, then it's OK. Simple as that. You're the cook, it's your call.

                      As others have pointed out (notably, McGee), as more of the garlic is exposed to air, the taste gets stronger. Whether pressing exposes more garlic than mincing is tough to say offhand; let your tastebuds be your guide.

                      1. b
                        bebevonbernstein Jan 8, 2008 12:09 PM

                        Actually, I believe Cooks said that pressing is superior to mincing (in their review of garlic presses), as the press gets it much more uniform than most cooks.

                        I still mince by hand, mind you, because I enjoy it, but . . .

                        http://www.cooksillustrated.com/testi...

                        1. chef chicklet Jan 8, 2008 12:17 PM

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                          1. Will Owen Jan 8, 2008 12:55 PM

                            If I'm cooking it in a sauce, something that's going to simmer for some time, I'll chop it and toss it in just as the onion finishes cooking. But for most other purposes, the old Susi press gets the job. The best trick I came up with lately, by the way, is for garlicking the big monkeypod salad bowl: I put a big pinch of coarse salt in the bowl, press a clove of garlic over that, scraping it all off the bottom of the press with a knife, then I use a folded paper towel to rub garlic and salt all over the inside of the bowl.

                            Some food writer I don't particularly like - I think it was Barbara Kafka - explained her disapproval of garlic presses by saying that it gives one clove of garlic the strength of several. To me, that's simple ingratitude - like complaining because your savings account is drawing too much interest!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Will Owen
                              tbear Jan 8, 2008 06:40 PM

                              "ingratitude"....excellent.

                              1. re: tbear
                                i
                                Inkstress Jan 24, 2008 12:29 PM

                                One small thought here. I noticed that my "other half" minced his garlic in smaller than quarter inch bits while making his breakfast potatoes. He added the garlic a bit too soon and the bits stayed on the bottom of the pan and burned while the rest of the ingredients cooked. My theory is, if he'd pressed them into a mushier form, then they wouldn't have dropped to the bottom of the pan but would have coated the other ingredients and would not have burned as quickly. They still would have burned though. Sorry Jacob!

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