Reeking of garlic breath is nothing to be ashamed of. After all, who can resist piping-hot garlic bread fresh from the oven? Yet the repercussion of having to catch a whiff of the allium’s potent scent lingering on your fingers for days on end might be enough to avoid cooking with the ingredient altogether.
We’ve made our point: We love eating garlic packed with tons of health benefits but loathe peeling it just as much as you do. Especially if a recipe calls for an obscene amount of it—say, 40 cloves? Thankfully, we’ve discovered a foolproof way to peel garlic without ruining your freshly-glossed nails, and it involves one household appliance: The microwave. Yes, we’ve tried just about every other garlic-peeling hack under the sun, and this 10-second trick definitely takes the proverbial cake.
The best no-knife hack for peeling cloves of garlic
This genius hack for peeling cloves of garlic doesn’t require the use of any sharp and potentially dangerous objects whatsoever—just a microwave. In a recent TikTok video by @newdawnfields, a garlic farmer from northern Michigan says the best way to peel garlic is by applying a little heat to it.
@newdawnfields Just need a lil heat to get the paper more paper-y. We’re not trying to cook the garlic. Just warm ‘er up. Try it before the silly hacks! #garlic #garlicgirl #northernmichigan #michigan #womenwhofarm #grownbysurvivors #kitchenhacks #garlicpeelinghack ♬ original sound - K-Roll
To demonstrate, she uses a Georgian fire garlic variety, which is known for being more difficult to peel than other kinds. Then, she simply pops the entire head of garlic into the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds and then lets it cool down for a few seconds before handling it. (For those that don’t have a microwave, you can also bake the head at 250°F for about five minutes.) After it’s cooled down, she’s able to dislodge the fully peeled clove easily.
It’s really as simple as that. Possibly the most shocking part: This trick removes every last bit of skin—even the pesky film that’s usually impossible to remove without accidentally digging a nail or two into the flesh.
I tried the microwave garlic-peeling hack to see if it actually works (...and it does!)
Like most other social media trends I encounter, my initial instinct is to ask myself: Is this too good to be true? In this case, the only way to find out was by testing it. Fortunately, I always have tons of garlic on hand for cooking just about every meal. (IMO, you can never have too much garlic.) It also helped that this genius cooking tip came from a professional garlic farmer—I was already intrigued.
To test it out, I used a common type of garlic variety called a silver white softneck. But since my recipe only needed three cloves of garlic, I simply broke the head to remove what was necessary (leaving the peel intact). Next, I popped them in the microwave for about 10 seconds, and carefully—yes, they heat up very quickly—removed the cloves after letting them still for about 10 seconds after they were done. To my very pleasant surprise, the fully-peeled cloves literally fell out of the peel casing like magic. Mind. Blown.
It’s safe to say that this hack is essentially flawless, but there are a few things you might want to keep in mind before you give it a go. For starters, since I was only microwaving a few cloves (not the whole head), I definitely could’ve gotten away with heating them for less time. Perhaps around seven to eight seconds would do. This also can heavily vary depending on how powerful your microwave is (mine’s at least a few decades old). I also noticed that as I overheated the cloves, I was essentially cooking them, which could potentially alter the garlic’s flavor profile and mitigate some of its raw punchiness.
Lastly, to really ensure my fingers remained completely odor-free, I used a handy vegetable chopper to finely mince the cloves. My go-to is OXO’s Good Grips Vegetable Chopper (which doubles as an arm workout); it's the most foolproof way to ensure I can savor all the garlic in the world sans smelly fingers.
A registered dietitian shares the benefits of eating garlic:
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