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Jan 14, 2013 06:21 PM

Roasted garlic - where am I going wrong?

I have recently developed a potentially unhealthy obsession with roasted garlic. I have been roasting it regularly but the process has been more difficult than most seem to suggest. While the additional effort is quite worth the final process as it's not that strenuous, I just wonder perhaps there are simple things that I can change to make it less of a chore.

The issues:
1. It seems to take much longer than the recommended times - at 450F it usually takes upwards of 60-90 minutes. I have an oven thermometer so the set temperature is accurate so I don't think it's a matter of a too cold oven. I have attached a picture of my usual final product. I assume you should roast them until well-browned all over as in the image or should they be less dark?

2. Most advice suggests that you can simply squeeze the bulb to remove the cloves but that never has worked for me. Either I end up with tons of garlic clove paper pieces in my pile of cloves or the cloves simply do not budge. I have somewhat remedied this issue and now just use a fork to scoop out the cloves but even that is somewhat difficult at times and requires a good tug or several per clove.

3. In general, I use it as a paste to rub on meats but smashing usually requires a good while of work with a fork on a plate and I always seem to have good sized chunks which are resistant to adopting a new life in paste form.

Does anyone have any suggestions for any of these issues?

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  1. You are roasting it wrapped in foil, right? Or are you just placing it on the foil cut side up, to roast?

    1 Reply
    1. re: wyogal

      Oh oops, minor detail :) Yes, I roast wrapped in foil coated with grapeseed oil.

    2. Hmmm, mine are buttery soft and slip easily out of their casings. My steps are as fikows:

      *slice the tops of the garlic heads and place them in a heavy bowl(ceramic,glass, cast iron, Pyrex ) that just large enough to hold them comfortably
      *drizzle olive oil generously all over the heads,
      .*cover dish tightly with heavy duty foil and bake on the center rack @ 450 for at least an hour
      *after an hour poke thru the foil with a toothpick or skewer. The garlc should have no resistance. If it does, recover with more foil and put back in the oven for at least 15-20 more minutes and test again

      Lastly Barbara Kafka has a great technique for doing in the microwave, I use that short cut when I need a lot for pizza, mashed potatoes, bread, etc. works perfect everybtime!

      4 Replies
      1. re: foodieX2

        I wonder if it's the quality of my garlic although it's the result with heads from at least 5 different stores.

        1. re: fldhkybnva

          I took a closer look at the photo and the tops of the cloves look almost crunchy. Did you have them tightly covered? You need them to almost "steam" to get the softened. Maybe the are drying out?

          Age might make them a little tough but those take just a little longer.

          1. re: foodieX2

            I usually cinch the foil at the top like a little rose with the flower as the base and the remaining foil as the stem, perhaps it's not always so closed? It always appears closed to me. What you describe makes some sense to me though as the difficulty in removing and smashing seems to be that it's not moist at all.

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              Try bringing up the long ends of the foil to the middle, make a few folds to completely seal the top, and then fold the ends up a few times. You really want to seal it well.

              450° seems high to me, which could be why it seems burned. I usually go around 375° for about an hour, maybe 1 hour, 15 minutes max. But an hour seems to do it.

      2. I "roast' whole,peeled garlic cloves in olive oil(more like a confit,but same results).You get nicely browned,soft garlic and delicious flavored olive oil= win win...

        5 Replies
        1. re: petek

          I also simmer peeled garlic cloves in olive oil. What I do is buy the biggest heads of garlic I can find. I separate the cloves and put them, usually at least two heads, in a dry skillet on medium heat. I let them heat up and cook in the dry pan for maybe 5 to 7 minutes while shaking the pan occasionally. After the paper skins blacken a little, I pull the garlic off heat, dump it on a plate and when it's cool enough to handle, I pull off the skins. I put the now softened garlic back in the skillet with olive oil. I simmer the garlic for maybe 10 to 15 minutes until soft and golden. I take the garlic out with a slotted spoon and use it the same as roasted garlic. It just seems easier to me than the oven method plus like you said, the resulting garlic oil is fantastic.

          1. re: John E.

            What a great idea. I've always roasted mine in the oven but this sounds much easier and faster, plus I don't heat up the oven for an hour for a small amount of food.

            1. re: petek

              Me too. I buy the 3lb container of pre-peeled garlic at Costco and do it all at once, then freeze. Keeps me in garlic confit for at least 6 months.

              1. re: petek

                This is what I do too Petek and it's terrific!
                I keep it in the fridge in a container with a strainer insert which makes it easy to get the cloves out. The oil is great in cooking and salads - and roast potatoes too!
                I REALLY like John E's dry roast method, have to give that a try.
                I put the peeled cloves in a pot, cover with olive oil, bring to the just bubbling stage, take it off the heat, let cool, and repeat a couple more times, testing with a knife tip for when they're soft. I find this gives me more control and I don't end up burning the cloves.

                It is much easier than the oven method, keeps for ages in the fridge, less messy too, really convenient to use and I don't end up chucking dried old cloves out - so less waste as well.

                This is the container I use......

              2. You're burning your garlic.
                475F is too high.

                I preheat to 375F and bake for about 45 min (give or take 10 minutes).

                Let it rest in the tinfoil pouch for another 10 minutes.

                Then you're all set.

                1. I do 350 for an hour. I like it lightly browned, not as dark as yours. I cut the top off, put it on a piece of foil, glug some olive oil on it, and then bundle the foil up. Then let it cool in the foil for 15 minutes or so. Comes out perfect every time.