Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tools and Tips: Garlic Press

Garlic Press


It's bright! It's shiny! It opens and closes! And it's just so wonderfully heavy…

Despite being easily distracted by the bright and shiny, I really cannot say enough good things about my garlic press. It's certainly not essential to cooking - but it makes quick work out of tedious and repetitive tasks. And my garlic press is durable, heavy-duty and just fits perfectly in my palm. No part of it digs into my skin while squeezing - and it can stand up to my vigorous double-handed clutch! This may be a simple luxury kitchen gadget - but gosh if it isn't just perfect!

I'm sure there are purists out there (I used to be one of them) who insist on mincing garlic with a knife. And to be fair, mincing with a knife does the job just fine and results in a more precise mince. And a sharp knife never leaves behind any mashed garlic peels. So I can understand where purists are at. But nothing beats the speed of this handy little press. Pop in a clove of garlic, squeeze and done. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Mincing fresh garlic with a press takes all of 5 seconds - and for some of us, that's all the time we want to devote to mincing.

4 Garlic Cloves

To be fair, there are some minor problems with any garlic press:
  • You still need a knife. Once you press the garlic through, you'll need a knife to scrape the garlic off the back of the garlic press. It only takes a second or two, but it can be a pain.
     
  • Not all the garlic makes it through. Some of the garlic remains inside the press and you'll need that same knife to scrape out the inside of the press once you've finished. It only takes a few seconds - but it's still tedious.
     
  • Garlic juice. Pressing garlic forces the garlic to release its juice more quickly than mincing with a knife. Sometimes this is a good thing but it can also be frustrating, especially when mincing garlic in advance.

Peeled Ginger Root

Despite these minor frustrations, you'll rarely find me mincing garlic without my press. In fact, since this press is heavy-duty, you'll rarely find me mincing fresh ginger by hand either. I'd much rather spend my time scrubbing counters, cleaning floors or loading the dish washer - and let someone who enjoys hand-mincing wield a knife against every clove of garlic and knob of ginger. And bravo for such patience!

If bright, shiny objects pique your interest (or you're just sick of mincing), here's what to consider when adding a garlic press to your kitchen:
  • Buy heavy-duty. I have used (and broken) lightweight garlic presses - they're nothing but frustration. And they just feel so awkward and flimsy in your hand (because they are!) - so select a press that's built for the job. I personally like my Oxo.
     
  • Buy a big mouth. Some garlic presses have these tiny, little mouths so small that even some garlic cloves won't fit inside (let alone a piece ginger). That's not what you want. Instead, buy a garlic press with a mouth big enough to handle a couple medium-sized cloves of garlic or a small knob of ginger.

    2 Cloves of Garlic to be Pressed
     
  • Rinse after use. I can't stress this enough - garlic juice is extremely sticky and begins to dry immediately. So as soon as you've finished pressing your garlic, rinse the press immediately to avoid a stuck-on mess once it dries.
     
  • Scrape at the end. If you're mincing more than one clove of garlic, don't scrape off the back or inside of the press in between each clove. Instead, save your obsessive compulsive tidiness until the end and do your scraping after you've pressed all the garlic cloves through.

    Minced Garlic
     
  • Squeeze over the pan. As you press the garlic, juice often dribbles out the side of the press - so squeeze the press over the pan where you want the garlic. Then you won't waste any of the precious flavor or spend extra time on cleanup.
     
  • Don't put in the dishwasher. I don't care what the product literature says, I discourage putting anything with a hinge into the dishwasher. All that water, soap, heat and pressure - it's bound to cause problems. Like corrosion and rust. So protect your bright, shiny object and wash by hand.



8 comments:

  1. I am afraid I don't share your enthusiasm for the garlic press, although I understand why you and others do. I have an old one (probably over 20 years) that I mainly use because it also has a cherry/olive stoner as part of the handle. I like a good old fashioned smash, peel and mince approach. Must be my age. I don't use a dishwasher, microwave or toaster either! But I have to say that when doing loads of garlic I will sometimes peel the garlic and then push it through the press. Or get my husband to do it. Onions too. He's a keeper ;D PS I see you do the ginger-teaspoon thing too. Now *that's* an awesome trick.

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  2. I can take no credit for the ginger-peeling method with a teaspoon - I first saw this done by Rachel Ray :) I can certainly see forgoing the garlic press and toaster - but no microwave or dishwasher? Oooph, that's hard! I grew up without a dishwasher so I know first hand. But I can't imagine reheating food without a microwave...

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  3. Bintu @ Recipes From A PantryOctober 31, 2013 at 7:34 AM

    You would not believe it but I have one almost exactly like this. I will be sharing these fab tips via twitter.

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  4. I'm so glad you enjoyed, Bintu, and I'm glad to hear Oxo has made this version of the garlic press available all over because I think it's such a great gadget...

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  5. I've used garlic presses on and off throughout my life. Currently in an off stage. For the past few years I've decided that in most (not all) instances I much prefer larger pieces of garlic - I tend to slice it instead of mince it. But I agree, if you wanted minced, the press is the way to go, particularly if you have a bunch of it to mince (although when you have a lot one of those mini food processors works well, too). Fun post - thanks.

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  6. The garlic press I USE to have was from about 30 years ago, so it was a total pain! I really hate cleaning a garlic press. Maybe the ones they make today are better. Yours is much bigger. I can definitely see the advantage of using one, but I guess I just like to chop too much. That's probably why I don't have a food processor either. :) Interesting post Mark!

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  7. You know, the mini food pro is a great idea and I do have one that came as part of my immersion blender set. I should give that a try some time - although when I'm only doing about 4 cloves, it seems like overkill ;) Of course, perhaps the same is true for a garlic press? I don't know - bright and shiny!

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  8. For the longest time, I owned this press and refused to use it because it felt like cheating ;) Then when I finally started using it, I kept telling myself it was only for when I was REALLY in a rush. And now I just use it all the time. But I bet my knife skills could use the extra practice :/

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