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garlic press--am I doing something wrong, or is this a wasteful tool?

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I like pressed garlic more than chopped in many recipes, but our OXO garlic press always leaves behind a substantial amount of garlic in the press. Does this tool suck, or is this par for the course for garlic presses?

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  1. I've had a Zyliss for years and years and use it less and less. I find that my inadequte knife skills can still do a better job of it. And some TV chefs put a garlic press to shame. One tip of Batali's that I've been using for a while now is to thinly slice garlic rather than chop. As he says (ad nauseum I admit) you get the flavor of garlic without biting into a big piece. Meaning you can pick it out. Tonight I finally chopped/mashed garlic for a tapenade but usually just slice.

    1. i haven't used the oxo, but i am very happy with my zyliss. my mom got it for me years ago because the frugal gourmet, jeff smith, used and recommended it as the best one. it is certainly much better than others i've had in the past. when using it, i will press through a clove (or cloves, done two at a time, depending on size) a second time, after a minor rearrangement of the clove(s) in the well, to maximize the yield.

      plus, the zyliss has has a handy little plastic "cleaner" to reverse-press through the holes.

      i use it when i want pressed garlic. i'll also use minced or sliced, according to the purpose.

      1. there was a thread a while back about the most useless kitchen gadgets, and i was definitely not the only hound who had the garlic press at the top of my list. i haven't used one for years - it's a waste of money and valuable drawer space...oh, and garlic too, since half of it does inevitably end up stuck inside.

        you're better off chopping by hand. personally, i've come to find the task very satisfying and somewhat therapeutic...especially the part where i give the cloves a solid "thwack!" with the broad side of my knife to remove the skin :)

        1. I use several methods to prepare garlic for a recipe. Sometimes I just smash, peel then chop. Other times I peel, then thinly slice... but there are times when the old Zyliss press is put into use. For example when I want the essence of garlic in a salad dressing without having to worry about having large-ish pieces in the dressing. I believe that any tool which gives your desired effect is worth the investment. So there's a bit of residue left in the press. What's the big deal?

          1. Only the Zyliss seems any good vs the few others we have tried. I don't think it leaves very much behind. This is a oft-debated topic here though. ;-) For us, the press is easier than attempting to chop with the knife.

            1. I used to use a press all the time ... now I dice mine, rough dice then put a small piece of wax paper or saran over in a hit with my meat malot or hammer, or anything heavy. It mashes the garlic and presto same affect. just one little piece of saran wrap to throw away. And you use the entire clove. mashed and minced perfectly.. I understand the premise behind the press but it just doesn't work well, leaves too much left like the original post..

              Sometimes I will fine chop add some salt and mash to make a paste. This also works. I know it really doesn't answer your question, but I just don't really use a press anymore.

              1. First, if you don't peel the garlic first, most presses will leave at least half the garlic in there. So just in case that is the issue here.

                Second, it completely varies by the press. My zyliss doesn't leave much behind, nor did an old $2 press that I had for years. The one I had inbetween had a different pressing mechanism, it seemed to press into the hopper at an angle. I can't really describe it, but it left half the clove either in the hopper or oozing around the edges. I hated that press. I kept daring it to break. I was so happy when it did. Given where I purchased it, I think the hated press probably was an Oxo.

                Edit: I just looked at amazon, and the Oxo looks exactly like my old press. So maybe try a different press.

                1. Garlic presses are a waste and I gave up on them 20 years ago. Smash it with the knife, pull off the skin, and mince or add as is.

                  It's far easier and faster to clean a cutting board and knife than a garlic press (flicking out the inner skin with another knife, cleaning through the press with a brush...)

                  Lots of people like presses, and more power to them if they can get them to work faster and more effectively, with less waste and a shorter cleanup time than for me.

                  1 Reply
                  1. Upon the recommendation of an Amerca's Test Kitchen review, I purchased a Kuhn-Rikon garlic press, and I have to say they were 100% correct! It is now one of my favorite kitchen tools. It requires very little force to crush the garlic and squeezes nearly everything through! Plus, the design of it makes it SOOO easy to clean.
                    I highly recommend it to any garlic press nay-sayers. I previously had a zyliss and I've found the Kuhn-Rikon to be a much better tool. Definitely a time-saver.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: choco_lab38

                      I have to agree with you. My old one died, so I took their advice, and bought the Kuhn-Rikon from Amazon. It works very well, although I will admit that I use my knife more then the press.

                    2. My garlic press has to be at least forty years old, maybe close to fifty? It's a "Fortuna" from Austria, and I love it. It's quite heavy, cast aluminum, and It has a non-detachable cleaner built in as part of the handle. A quick rinse under running water, flip the handle back to clean the holes of the press of any remnants of peels, and it's good as new. Since aluminum is rust proof, I just rinse and return it to the drawer where it lives.

                      I think all garlic presses will leave some bits of garlic behind after pressing, but it's not like garlic costs as much as truffles! I rarely use just one clove of garlic, so I press them sequentially and end up only with a bit of waste from the last clove. For me, the speed and convenience of the press when compared to the time consuming process of mincing by hand makes it well worth the tiny bit of garlic I discard with each use.

                      There are some dishes in which I just don't find mashed and pureed garlic or sliced garlic acceptable, so I wouldn't trade my garlic press for anything!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Caroline1

                        Dear Caroline & also Jim,
                        I also love my FORTUNA garlic press for the same reasons and because the area the garlic is smashed is enclosed on only 3 sides, leaving one side open for the garlic not pressed through the holes to be easily swiped out with the back of a dinner knife (or anything else) into whatever you're cooking. It's an ingenious design and very simple, compact , and light.
                        I bought mine 25 years ago in a cooking store in Berkeley. I've been sporadically looking to replace it for a dozen years, ever since my then toddler dropped it on the floor, breaking off a bit of the smashing grill, making it a bit less efficient. DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE TO BUY ONE? I just struck out at Sur La Table. It is the BEST garlic press, so easy to use and to clean and to store. It's faster and easier than a knife.

                        In addition to the label "FORTUNA A Ahner Austria," mine says "Made in Italy" on the other handle.

                      2. I still am not a fan of the "smash, peel, and mince" method --I would say that I do QUITE ENOUGH cutting and chopping. There are garlic presses that do a decent job. Get one of those, and you too may stop using your knifes like a fly swatter!

                        For what it's worth, my wife picked up a Pampered Chef model that works really well. It is smallish (one clove at a time) but just about all the garlic gets squeezed out, peeled or unpeeled. Generally not a Pampered Chef fan, but they do get it right now and again.

                        We have an old Good Grips press. The design hasn't changed much in 15 yrs, besides rubberizing the handles. Which is amazing, as it is a horrible design.

                        The plunger and extruder don't meet squarely, so the garlic get squished to the one side. Overall, there is way to much space between the plunger and exrtruder, so the garlic either doesn't get pushed all the way through or squishes around the plunger.

                        It does have that gizmo that knocks out the garlic that doesn't get pushed through (which is to say, most of the garlic) which then has to be manually minced. It only works with garlic that has been peeled.

                        Most OXO/Good Grips products are pretty decent, so this is one of the few to leave off the wedding registry. If you have one of these, yup, you're right, useless gadget.

                        1. YES, Oxo's sucks! Many others suck, too. There are good ones, but I don't know of any good, cheap ones. I now have the Coon-Racoon (sp?).

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Scargod

                            Garlic presses are not perfect, but I argue that they give you a fast running start , if you are an anal mis en place cook. I press, scrape out the goop with a paring knife on to a saucer, then finish dicing with a flurry with knife and fork. It reduces garlic prep time by two-thirds.

                            1. re: Veggo

                              I anal either! I resenble that! Once it goes through the holes...I'm done! No more fiddle-fartin around with it!
                              I don't use the press when I want people to "see the garlic" or get big hits of it in a dish.

                          2. Another idea for peeling garlic. Those flat, round rubber grips for opening jars. Fold in half like a taco shell, place garlic inside and roll it around. The skin falls right off. (makes the rubber smell good too)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: pacheeseguy

                              Watch Jacques Pepin Destroy Garlic...he'll do it any number of the episodes below.


                              Thwack it, peel it, then take the flat side and SMASH the thing into a mince. almost immediately. It will take a bit of practice...but not that much. So much bloody faster. And, if its not a delicate cooking process (you want more garlic taste) don't mince it, leave it in slices or damn near whole so you get that flavor. (Ex. extended cooktimes


                              If you want it really fine after smashing it, sprinkle a little kosher or sea salt on it, rake the knife over it a couple times and voila...super minced garlic.

                            2. A microplane is faster, more efficient, and easier to clean. Why on earth would you want any kind of press?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: pikawicca

                                Yep. Or use the fine side of a box grater.

                              2. Of the garlic presses I've used (never used OXO's), they all leave some of the garlic clove behind, simply push these bits into the hole and press it through.

                                Like you, I prefer the stronger flavor pressed garlic offers over sliced or chopped, at least in some recipes.

                                1. I used to use a garlic press, but I too have found that just using a knife is faster and easier. With a garlic press you still have to peel the garlic first, so the knife's already dirty anyway, and the garlic press is always difficult to clean. Remember the jail scene in Good Fellas? That's how I try to slice garlic; paper thin.

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: hlehmann

                                    I love my garlic press, LOVE IT...BUT I do not use it all the time.
                                    I also chop garlic when needed...I have used a grater, I have sliced garlic ( yes, straight from Good Fellas!) paper thin so when you add it, it metls away. I have chopped and mashed.

                                    I don't care how you slice it, dice it, chop it or press it, just give me garlic!

                                    1. re: hlehmann

                                      Never thought to use a knife to peel garlic before putting it in a garlic press, just squeeze the clove until the skin cracks and peel it.

                                      A tooth brush and running water clean a garlic press in seconds.

                                      1. re: Demented

                                        Curious. I have never thought of putting a clove in a press until it was peeled. I press it over a saucer, then extract the residual with a paring knife, and finish mincing with the knife and a fork.
                                        I would challenge anyone to a garlic prep contest, starting with a whole head.

                                        1. re: Veggo


                                          I squeeze the clove until the skin cracks, peel it, then put it in the press.

                                          1. re: Demented

                                            I got it now. I snip both ends of a clove and then see which end will let the peel begin.

                                            1. re: Veggo

                                              I smash it a little with the chef's knife, snip off the end where clove was attached and then the skin (or husk), usually falls right off. Then I put it in the press and squeeze. Then I use a knife to clean protruding garlic off the press. I then open the press and dig around to get the leftovers out and use a toothbrush, toothpick or some toothy thing to clean it out before I wash it and two knives.
                                              Damn! I'm throwing my press away!

                                          2. re: Veggo

                                            Challenge accepted:
                                            Squeeze the entire head or whack it on the counter to loosen the cloves.
                                            Whack, peel off skin; repeat with remaining cloves. Or twist clove and pull.
                                            Mince finely, smoosh with salt if you want it finer.
                                            I know I can't do the whole thing in 1 minute a la Pepin, but I have done it in about 3 minutes (longer when my husband is in the room and we're chatting).
                                            Cleaning: under 1 minute with hot soapy water to clean knife and cutting board.

                                            Removing the skin from the peeler would take longer than that, then having to use a toothbrush or whatever to get the risidual stuff out.

                                            For multiple bulbs, I might use the break and peel method before adding to my chopper attachment, but that takes longer to clean, with the blade, lid, bowl, and spatula.

                                            1. re: Caralien

                                              My way:

                                              Get the clove, top and tail it, but the tail will probably still be attached. Use this to help peel off the skin. (depending on the garlic, the removal of the skin can be picky or easy). Now smoosh with the flat of a knife. Repeat.

                                              Sometimes I chop a clove up paper thin if I want to cover a large area too. I reckon a big one can (more or less) cover an 8 oz steak on one side.

                                      2. I have one from Pampered Chef and I love it!! The bowl is oblong and will hold a good size glove of garlic. I know the instructions say to leave unpeeled, but I always peel the garlic and have no waste.

                                        LOVE IT!!!!

                                        1. Yes, I believe several of the presses suggest you can leave the garlic unpeeled, and you technically can, but it seems to work smoother and with less waste if you peel first. I can usually get the peel started by just squeezing the clove a bit. But if you like, there's actually a (similarly or even more pointless to those who already find the press pointless) silicone sleeve you can buy that's made to roll the garlic in to peel, saving you mainly from having to get it all over your hand, I guess.

                                          1. For me, it doesn't make sense to put an unpeeled clove of garlic in a garlic press. Why? The peel/paper is tough and will tend to protect the garlic during pressing, thereby rendering an unsatisfactory result, and what if some of the paper is pushed through? I'ts not gonna be tender! So....

                                            The easiest way to peel garlic is to lay a clove on its side on your cutting board, cover it with the widest part of the blade of your big chef's knife, then give the blade a smack with your fist. This will crack the clove like a nut. Peel away the skin/paper with your fingers. DO NOT worry about your hands smelling like garlic for days. When you're through handling the garlic (or onions or any food that makes your hands smell bad), simply hold your hands under cold running water and rub all the places you touched garlic with using the back of the bowl of a stainless steel spoon. But it MUST be stainless steel. Silver does not work. Or if you prefer, some "entrepreneurs" are now offering stainless steel in the form of a hollow bar of soap for a not too gentle price. Save yourself ten bucks and use the spoon!

                                            1. hahah, I hate garlic presses. What a useless gimmick.

                                              RE: above, I peel the garlic, then smack with the knife. It gets cut smaller, or picked apart if it needs to cover a certain surface area, otherwise crushing it bursts enough .. cells? to get the garlic taste out.

                                              1. I used a knife and a cutting board for years and found I got obsessive-cumpulsive with crushing/chopping garlicand just wasted too much time and sometimes made too much garlic!. Perhaps partly because I prefer a larger utility/slicer style knife to a big fat Chef knife or like, It not only takes too much time but then I had to clean the cutting board which really gets gross with garlic. So when my mother brought home a bargain Zyliss from the thrift store I really took to it. It some cases I still will chop or slice garlic relatively coarsly but when you want a nice mash of garlic nothing beats a garlic press. I do peel. I just twist the little clove in my fingers to loosen the skin, cutting off the stem end and they usually peel easy. Forget dry chinese garlic I am a fan of local (to CA)Christoper Ranch, big cloves and garlic that peels easy. Purple garlic usually peels easier. As far as waste-- What Waste? or WHY???!!! I use everything in the press. I just scrape down with a little knife and go for a second press which is quick and works suprisingly well. Sometimes I will do a final scrape out of the press and put that in the food too, depending what I am cooking and time constraints. Final scrape out or no, for cleaning I soak the press in water and it is far easier to clean than the stinking cutting board and takes less time than truly minced/crushed garlic on a cutting board.

                                                In short, I love my garlic press.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: meetoo

                                                  For omelets or scrambled eggs I used to use a fine grater, then parmesan to push out the residual garlic. Still do that sometimes when I don't want to use a cutting board of knife.

                                                2. jfood is on the side of using his garlic press for several functions as well. When he uses it he placs the cloves of garlic on the counter, places the heal of his hind on the clove and separates the skinf rom the good stuff. Then he processes through the press. Yes there is a little residue left in the press, but it's no biggie. To clean he takes a butter knife and cleans the inside, then he takes the red thingy with lots of "male" parts and pushes any residue out from the holes and rinses. Takes about 15 seconds.

                                                  1. It's a tool not found in my drawers. I can finely mince garlic in the time it would take me to find, load, and clean the silly thing. And, since I prepare garlic differently depending on the dish, it would be a tool with the lowest utility in my tiny kitchen - it hasn't earned it place my arsenal.

                                                    12 Replies
                                                    1. re: alwayscooking

                                                      We guys like having tools in our drawers that are highly specialized. A well-made, highly functional garlic press is a thing of beauty; an art form, for those that can appreciate it. It's more than just squeezing a clove. It's heaven in your hand....
                                                      My Coon-Racoon is just that! (OK, it's my pet name for Kuhn-Rikon.)

                                                        1. re: Scargod

                                                          SG, one who flunked their Rorschach test could misinterpret your sentence "We guys like having tools in our drawers that are highly specialized".

                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                            The hell with Rorschach. You guys are talkin' dirty, aren't ya!

                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                              Boys and their coveted tools in their hands. Sounds dirty to me too.

                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                Me? I do have a garage where I keep my antique Woodie, but there are no Dunlops in my garage!

                                                                1. re: Scargod

                                                                  You probably should have a few Dunlops in your garage. They supplied the wheels and brakes to the Thrust SSC supersonic land-speed-record breaking car. Wouldn't fit in your drawers with the other highly specialized tools such as the garlic press, though.

                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                    Hey, all this talk of specialised tools... It's kind of a philosophy of mine that if you have a good knife, and know how to use it (and take care of it) you don't need most of that garbage.

                                                                    I'd rather have a £100 knife than 10 different gadgets.

                                                                  2. re: Scargod

                                                                    You antique Woodie? You mean it's still up and running? I would have to assume it would do better on Goodyear or Goodrich than on Dunlops! But then, some say rubber is rubber.

                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                      Absolutely! I am referring, of course, to not having a tool "shed" when it comes to Dunlops. Like, " My gut done lopped over my belt".

                                                              2. re: alkapal

                                                                happy to see you back on this thread - I SAW you were removed for something tat seemed nothing - is it vindictive?

                                                                1. re: alwayscooking

                                                                  nah....they just don't like my animal humor ... ;-).

                                                            2. Oh yeah. I agree with the person who says purple garlic peels easier - the stuff I've had has had very thick skin.

                                                              And I just remembered, my friend has a garlic-skin remover! it's a rubber tube you pop it into and then rub between your palms. He swears by it!

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: Soop

                                                                The thing about the rubber tube is I already have fingers with skin that are kind of rubbery so why bother with the tube. A little jiggly twisty action usually loosens skin pretty quick. I like it better than picking skin off a squashed clove and the darn little things stays between my fingers the whole time saving wasted movement. . .(I do snip off the stem end with a knife,-- after the jiggly twist)

                                                                1. re: meetoo

                                                                  Me too! Or, I agree. Just one more thing to clutter the drawer with.
                                                                  Fingers: God's gift to man!

                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                    S, good morning.

                                                                    I open this thread and onthe right hand side which jfood rarely looks at was a link to the Kuhn Rikon Garlic Press.


                                                                  2. re: meetoo

                                                                    I used loads of garlic this weekend, and I made sure I concentrated on what I was doing and how long it took. My aforementioned technique took less than 2 minutes (I'd say abou 90 seconds to do 8 cloves).

                                                                2. Just noticed this thread. Sorry to resurrect it but there is one important piece of information missing.

                                                                  Garlic is an unusual plant that has a defence mechanism. When it is crushed it releases an enzyme that causes the production of particularly strong odorous compounds. The same chemical(s) that are meant to dissuade animalsfrom eating it are the one we are seeking. (cf hot chillies, all of the alliums, unripe berries). Less of these chemicals are produced when cutting as compared to crushing. Hence whole cloves impart a different flavour to cut garlic which is different to diced garlic. Also if you cook the complete clove before cutting it will have a different flavour as well.

                                                                  And I agree with PikaWicca. Nothing beats what was originally a woodworking tool - the microplane. This works differently to a fine grater as it cuts rather than scrapes - and it is a lot quicker. Cut the fat end off a clove and plane. No need to peel, you will be left holding just the skin and a stub. Unlike the garlic press it is not that Alton Brown anathema - a unitool.

                                                                  And as an additional benefit it is the best lemon zester and Parmesan grater. Get one - I use it almost every day, and certainly every time I 'cook'.

                                                                  Here is a link - haven't worked out how to do it properly yet..