Friday, May 1, 2015

Fresh Garlic vs Minced in a Jar

Have you ever caught yourself saying or thinking, "I find preparing fresh garlic tedious and the minced in a jar so quick."? This comment followed my previous post on 'Sprouted Garlic' dated April 24th, 2015. My reply was, "I have never used it (from a jar) and can safely say never would use it... as for minced in a jar vs fresh, no contest! Fresh is always best and my first choice!" However, I can relate to how tedious it is to mince fresh garlic, but there is nothing like the pungent, pure flavor and quality of fresh. The flavor and consistency of garlic, like most foods, changes when frozen. That said, in place of fresh, I would still prefer to use garlic grown in my garden then frozen, rather than anything from a jar. 

Here are a few solutions that evolved over the years when I had too much fresh garlic or when dry storage was no longer an option...

1) Many years ago: I would clean a good amount of fresh garlic cloves, place in a food processor, pulse but keep it slightly chunky. Then loosely spoon the minced garlic into shallow, freezer containers. It was easy when frozen to release a teaspoon or so with a fork or knife and put it on a plate to defrost (in no time) ready to use! UNTIL we had numerous power failures that winter then the loosely packed, minced garlic became a difficult, solid lump. 
I tried another batch, pulsed quite chunky but the same problem occurred before I had used up my supply. Then to increase the tedium and clean up, it was too chunky and had to be minced again before using in most recipes.

2) Several years ago: I lost my entire garlic crop to botrytis. Once discovered, I had time to peel and clean the entire harvest, about 60-75 large heads. Indeed, my hands smelled of garlic for a few days! I decided to mince it in the food processor, pack it on large, parchment paper lined, jellyroll sheet pans and freeze it. It was then cut it into teaspoon size ‘cubes’ and frozen. A few problems with this method; it was quite time consuming and I had to place wax or parchment paper between the layers of cubes or they would stick together and form a lump. A quick product to work with once defrosted but far too time consuming for initial preparation. I also tried using ice cube trays and had great difficulty getting the the frozen, minced garlic to release from the tray. Maybe silicone ice cube trays would work, but I just had the standard, hard plastic ones.

Frozen garlic and defrosting 4 cloves in the garlic mincer
3) My most recent method comes into play when; the garlic has any problem at harvest where it will not store properly or in the spring when it starts to sprout in the storage room. These are peeled, rinsed, green sprout removed if necessary and popped into a zip-type small bag (with the date) then into the freezer.... done. When assembling a recipe, read through the recipe first and assemble your mise en place. At this point, the frozen garlic cloves are removed to room temperature to a plate or small bowl, and in no time are defrosted, ready to mince. To speed defrosting time, they can be cut in half. 

4) For large amounts of garlic, I still prefer my board and French knife but I have a separate board for garlic and onions that is dishwasher safe. It's a good practice to never mince onions or garlic on the same board that you use for fruit or chocolate. Residuals in the board will add an unwanted, unpleasant flavor to other foods. There is nothing more embarrassing that serving beautiful, fresh cut watermelon on a hot summer day that tastes like garlic! I have separate cutting boards for bread/baking, fruit/vegetables, onions/garlic, chocolate, meat, fish, etc... but I digress, maybe a future blog post?

Lee Valley Tools ~ Garlic Mincer (old version)
I discovered a kitchen gadget through 'Lee Valley Tools' that is efficient for a small amount of fresh, minced garlic and works great with my defrosted whole or halved cloves.,40733,44734

I have the older version which is a bit less ergonomically friendly but I love this gadget! To use the frozen garlic cloves; take the amount of cloves required from the freezer, cut in half if desired and place in this handy mincing gadget until defrosted. It is then a matter of putting the two piece gadget together, a few turns (depending on how fine you want it) and voila, minced garlic. Because this tool is strictly for garlic, no need to worry about transferring flavor to the next ingredient. Remove the minced garlic and rinse the gadget in hot, soapy water. As Jamie Oliver would say, 'easy peasy!' If you have prepared more than needed for your recipe, toss it back into the bag of frozen cloves, or wrap in a tiny piece of plastic or wax paper and pop it into the bag for next time.

Till next week, keep those questions coming... Bon Appetit!

Photos by Sally Rae

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tip - I'd never thought to freeze garlic before.