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How to Mince Garlic

A key ingredient in modern cooking, garlic adds flavor to pasta dishes, sauces and so much else. Here’s how to mince garlic.

Although garlic is often used in American kitchens these days, it only really became popular in the mid-20th Century with the rising popularity of restaurants showcasing Italian and other cuisines took hold. This semester, I have been teaching a food writing class and little facts like this have surprised (and delighted) my students.

Though many people I know see garlic as a key ingredient in cooking, it’s really new to American cooking. I wonder what pastas were like before garlic became so ubiquitous here? (My collection of vintage cookbooks would probably tell me that pasta also wasn’t super popular in the past.)

A key ingredient in modern American cooking, pungent garlic adds flavor and nuance to vinaigrettes, sauces and so many other dishes.

Here’s how to mince garlic.

Step 1: Select Your Cloves

Garlic is purchased by the head in grocery stores and at farmers market. The head — called a bulb — is made up of many cloves that can be gently dislodged for use. Remove the papery outer layers around the clove or cloves you need and gently pull the clove away from the head. Continue until you have the required amount for your recipe.

Step 2: Remove the Skin

In addition to the papery outer layers, garlic cloves are encased in a thicker paper wrapping. The best way to remove this is by crushing the clove, which will then allow you to easily slip it out of the wrapping. With a santoku or chef’s knife, hold the blade against the garlic. Use the heal of your hand to hit the flat side of the blade, crushing the garlic. Not only will you be able to easily remove the skin, this will also release the aromatic oil in the garlic.

Step 3: Get Mincing

Now, it’s time to mince your garlic. Place the peeled clove on a cutting board and, using a chef’s knife, carefully slice off the root end and discard it. Then, holding the clove or cloves firmly in place with your non-dominant hand, carefully make thin slices through the garlic. Gather the slices into a pile and rock the knife through them, beginning at one of the pile and working your way to the other. Turn the knife perpendicual to your cuts and do this again, continuing until you’ve achieved a fine mince throughout.

Now, your minced garlic is ready to use in recipes as desired.

Recipe Ideas for Minced Garlic