The Garlic Press...

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strikingtwice's picture
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The Garlic Press...

Alright, we've all heard many criticisms, especially Bourdain and "the Abomination". What is the deal with the garlic press (you can go Seinfeld with that if you want to)? 

As per one of Jacob's podcasts, (paraphrasing) the more surface area that garlic is exposed to, the more flavor will be extracted (i believe this is the same for all alliums). The garlic press seems to get a lot of it out with a ton of exposure. I am not defending the garlic press in anyway, in fact, I literally just found out that I owned one when I saw it in my drawer, and then just decided to check it out. Seemed fine. Smelled like garlic. Tasted like garlic. I just wanted to get some opinions and maybe a little science. I'm trying to separate opinions from pretentiousness from science. Anyone care to way in with any of those?

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I don't personally use a garlic press because I don't own one. I see nothing wrong with them, it's the same stuff that you'd get from smashing a clove. I like diced garlic for the pop you get from getting a small piece of it in your mouth. With a press you're more likely to more thoroughly incorporate the garlic into whatever you're cooking. I would suppose that it is preference, and what you want your final dish to come out tasting like. Texture, overall flavour, etc.

 

A big mistake a lot of people make is taking any one person's word as canon, and we have to try as many different methods for ourselves and decide what best fits the purposes of the dish. Escoffier is not the be all end all final authority of cuisine. Neither is Batalli, Emeril, Shune, Bourdain, etc. By limiting ourselves to one person's, or on cultures point of view, we limit our ability advance the cooking trade as a whole, and that is more important than any one person. For example, I've never heard of garlic ice cream, but it's something I'd like to try if I could figure out an exact flavouring and method to it.

 

Another wonderful thing with garlic is arabic garlic sauce (Toum). It's made similar to mayonnaise except instead of the egg they use garlic. It is simply amazing.

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I don't use a garlic press because they are a pain to clean.  I would much rather just use a knife.  To me, it's not worth cluttering a drawer with.

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That is something else that I've heard a bunch about, how difficult they are to clean! Mine has a reverse thing that presses most of the stuff back out, and you just do a little swipe in there for the rest! Don't know.

 

I agree with you though Zalbar, I've thought the same thing. I do take a lot of what Bourdain says as gospel, but I just am going to have to disagree with this one. I still like chopped garlic, but i also like pressed garlic.

 

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The way I see it, it’s a matter of whether you want chopped garlic or smashed garlic. The garlic press just gives you a (possibly) faster way of smashing garlic. Two different flavor profiles, I would guess.

 

Many just don’t want to spend the time to smash the garlic with the back of a knife (or are afraid they will cut themselves). Almost sounds like it’s worth a podcast in itself since the issue comes up so often. On the other hand, smashing large quantities of garlic with the back of a cast iron skillet or other heavy pan may be a good way of working out stress during the day (and scaring away co-workers/friends/family, etc.)

Wisconsin Limey

Unless you grow it yourself, most of the "bulb" garlic available is from China!  :(  

 

I prefer to buy jars of crushed and minced garlic from Gilroy, CA.  The garlic capital of the world.

 

QUICKER

EASIER

TASTIER

 

 

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I live not to far away from Gilroy, so California garlic is very, very easy to find... even the already peeled stuff in large bags.

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Over the years I have owned three different styles of garlic presses.  Some were self cleaning, one was just a cool design.  At some point I realized that I stopped using the press.  As I acquired better knife skills, and realized that cleaning a knife is a hell of lot faster than cleaning a garlic press, out it went.  

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In line with Nina's point, I think that's why some chefs or celebrities like Bourdain would bash a garlic press. They're not necessarily bad, but if you have good knife skills and are relatively fast, they're kind of useless.

 

However, it seems that its now cool to bash simple kitchen tools and disregard certain gadgets, especially if they're "uni-taskers." But I like gadgets, and I'm for anything that makes cooking more enjoyable and encourages people to do it more often. If a garlic press makes you happy in the kitchen, then don't let anyone else tell you otherwise.

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To me, it's not even about my knife skills. I'm pretty handy with a knife and have only gotten better. It's about function. I eat chunks of garlic and love them. Slices and love them. There are rare instances when I don't want that though especially if just trying to infuse flavor. I wanted to get the consensus and it seems like the consensus is that garlic, if chopped well is the same as pressed. Its different though, I like both. I don't mind uni tasked gadgets but don't rack them up. As long as we all agree that the lettuce knife is the worst ploy for an inexperienced cooks money.
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What's wrong with a lettuce knife anyway? smiley

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Can’t sharpen them easily and commercial knife sharpeners just melt the serrated edge.

 

Sorry... they are safe for kids. Good enough reason to have one, I guess. Couldn’t resist the above remark :)

 

Got one as part of a set of plastic bowls. And no, I didn’t try to sharpen it.

 

 

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@Greenbake.

 

Was just kidding.  I agree with you.

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I don't know for certain that a knife is the same as a garlic press. I've heard there are oils released from the press' crushing action that are not released with the knife. That said, I don't know I could tell the difference between the two methods in a blind test.

 

 

I don't find the garlic press that difficult to clean. Sure, it's not as easy as a knife, but it's not difficult by any means. Some warm running water washes everything away. The job becomes a lot more more difficult if you let the garlic dry.

 

 

A note about "uni-taskers"... I've redefined Alton Brown's classic meaning to be "an item that's used only once, then never used again." If you cook with a lot of garlic and use your garlic press often then it's the right tool for the job.

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I either slice, chop or use a pestle & mortar depending on the use of the garlic.
I hadn't heard of arabic garlic sauce before Zalbar mentioned it above but it's pretty much what I make.
I crush the clove(s) in a mortar, then add salt to make it into a paste then gradually add oil to make the consistency I need. I find it very good done like this for coating root vegetables, Mediterranean veg etc before roasting as it doesn't burn the garlic.

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