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"How does the way it is prepared affect garlic's flavor?"

Dear Anne and Sue,

What difference in flavor, if any, between mincing garlic (with a press) and chopping (either fine or chunky) with a knife. I am lazy and always press garlic however am wondering if there are times when chopped garlic is preferable. Miss your old web site. Thank you.

— Janice


Still have more questions? You'll find more answers in our archived monthly feature articles by the Inquisitive Cooks.

(Meet the Inquisitive Cooks)

Dear Janice,

We're pleased you've found our new location. As this site grows, we're sure it will become just as valuable to keen cooks as our former siteĀ‹so please keep checking in!

Your question on the differences in the flavor of garlic is an interesting one, for the ways this ancient bulb is handled in cooking can either emphasize or mellow its pungency. A head of unpeeled garlic is odorless because its flavoring compounds and the enzyme that triggers their release are held separately within the clove.
All cooking techniques that break the cell walls, whether dicing, pressing, chopping or mincing, throw the chemical alliin and the enzyme alliinase together, liberating garlic's distinctive flavor and aroma. The more cells that are broken, the more assertive garlic becomes. So you can control the intensity of flavor by how finely you chop the garlic.

However, cooking is also a factor that comes into play. Slow cooking mellows garlic's intensity, as the sulfur compounds underlying its flavors vaporize in the heat. That's why a whole head of garlic gently baked is mellow, rich, and not at all overpowering, while a clove that's peeled, minced, and used raw adds a wallop of flavor to a Cesar salad dressing.

The cook is in command here, so the bottom line is that whether you press, mince, or slice garlic, and how long you cook it, determines its punch in cooking. It was nice to hear from you.
Thanks for finding us.

Anne and Sue


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