Cooking with garlic can be a tricky business. Here are 7 tips to help you out

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Garlic. Just mentioning this ingredient is enough to bring a smile to any foodie's face. And, desserts aside, it's nearly impossible to find a dish it can't be added to. But using garlic can be tricky. While the cloves themselves feel quite firm, this is actually a particularly delicate ingredient. On the other hand, use it incorrectly and you'll find that it's too harsh and can quickly ruin your dish.
Follow these tips, though, and you'll find that there's nothing that can come between you and your love of garlic. You'll be chopping, roasting, and using it like a pro in no time; and your dinner guests will thank you for it.
1. Know how to buy it
So what's so hard about buying garlic? It's readily available in any grocery store and they all look the same. So what's the trick? That would be to make sure you're buying fresh garlic and, if you look closely and give your garlic a good feel, you certainly will be able to tell the difference.
First, pick up a head of garlic and run your thumb along the side. Does the skin come off like paper? If so, that's a good indication that your garlic isn't as fresh as the store would like you to think. Look for garlic that still has that skin tightly bound to the cloves and doesn't just fall off.
Also, give your garlic a quick look. While you likely won't be able to see the cloves in their entirety, you will be able to see just the tops of them, especially if they have little green shoots sticking out the ends. Those shoots are just that - a sign that the garlic has sprouted and is past its prime.
2. Separate the cloves from their skin easily
It can be annoying to slice off the top of a garlic clove and then have to be extremely finicky when trying to get that thin skin off the clove you want to use. While there are tons of garlic peelers on the market, and you could have fun shaking the garlic between two bowls you've brought together, there's a much simpler way.
Simply lay the garlic clove on your cutting board and then, using the flat side of your knife, give it a good whack. The clove will pop right out of its skin and you'll have removed it in just seconds - with no fear of dropping a bowl and breaking it.
3. Stop the stickiness
It doesn't take long when chopping garlic to realize that it quickly becomes sticky, clinging to your knife and hands and making it difficult to work with. This stickiness starts to form when the sulfur inside the garlic is released into the air, creating a tacky liquid. But there is a way to stop it.
Simply sprinkle some salt over the garlic before chopping it. This will stop the chemical reaction of the sulfur and it will also create a physical barrier between the garlic and the air, and the garlic and your knife. You're likely adding salt to the dish anyway so before you do, just have a taste to test how much of the garlicky salt actually made it into the dish and then add a pinch or two more if the dish needs it.
4. Use a zester to mince it easily
Don't want to mince your garlic at all? While it's true that mincing garlic can quickly become a tedious task, it's one that has an easy solution. Simply use a zester or microplane to grate it. You'll get perfectly even strands of garlic without any of the muss or fuss.
5. Don't use raw garlic if you don't want to
Raw garlic is pungent and powerful, a true thing of beauty for those that like being reminded they're getting a good dose of allicin (pronounced Alison like a girl's name and the compound that makes garlic so incredibly healthy). But for others, that raw garlic can be too overwhelming and overtake all the other flavors in a dish. So when cooking for picky eaters from a recipe that calls for raw garlic, what's a cook to do?
Use roasted garlic. While it doesn't contain nearly as much of that nose-tickling allicin, it will seriously mellow out the garlic flavor and make it palatable for all. Plus, roasted garlic is so sweet and delicious, it's hard to find someone that doesn't like it.
To roast garlic, just cut the top off an entire clove and drizzle it with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then wrap the entire thing in aluminum foil before roasting in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes. After that time the garlic will be soft and sweet and you can simply squeeze the cloves out of their skin to add to any dish. Don't have that kind of time? Roasted garlic can be made ahead of time and kept in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week, meaning it will take just minutes to add to any dish.
6. Don't burn it
Garlic burns quickly; super quickly, in fact, especially when it's exposed to direct heat such as when fried in a frying pan. If very little liquid is being added to the pan, add garlic right at the end; it only needs about 30 - 45 seconds to cook. If you absolutely have to add it before that time, try keeping your garlic whole or smashed as the larger pieces will take longer to burn than when it's minced. If adding liquid to a dish, such as spaghetti sauce, garlic can stay longer in the sauce since it's not exposed to direct heat, but be sure to add liquid such as strained tomatoes or wine soon after adding the garlic.
7. Take the smell away
Even those who love the taste of garlic don't necessarily love the smell it leaves behind on their hands. Luckily, there are a couple of tricks that can be used here, too. Rubbing a lemon wedge along the fingers is the best way to take out the garlic smell, and some say salt does the same trick. If you really want to be unconventional when getting rid of the garlic smell, rub your fingers on stainless steel such as the kitchen faucet. The idea is that stainless steel has compounds in it which block odor-producing reactions.
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