I Tried This New 5-Second Garlic Hack So You Don’t Have To

updated Mar 6, 2020
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Peeling Garlic
Credit: sebastianosecondi/Getty Images

Peeling garlic for any recipe that needs more than just a few cloves can be an annoying task, and garlic’s unique structure makes it a prime target for people trying to rethink the standard peeling procedure. Often these new techniques look amazing — like this Korean knife trick, which resulted in at least a few folks who attempted it stabbing themselves — but don’t work so well in practice.

So, when this video post came across on Chef’s Feed’s Instagram with a new trick, we decided that for the good of the people, we’d give it a test. 

What’s the Trick?

In the video, the cook lops off the bottom of the garlic with a cleaver, then places it cut side down, pushes the stem down, and slaps it with the cleaver. When the cook lifts the stem, the entire peel comes up, as if by magic, and leaves behind only peeled cloves. It, as they all do, seemed so simple! It only took five seconds! I set out to see if it was.

Here’s What Happened When I Tried This at Home

The good news is that I needed no stitches following the testing. The bad news is that I need some ideas for what to do with a large amount of garlic and quickly, as it’s all exposed now. (Help, does anyone have any ideas?)

Credit: Naomi Tomky
Attempt #1

I started the experiment yesterday, grabbing the whole head in a bowl on my counter. But as soon as I cut into it, I saw the first problem: while the video’s cleaver slices straight through the garlic, when mine hit the stem in center, it put too much pressure on the cloves below and the whole head fell apart. I couldn’t even conduct the second half of the hack, where the stem gets pulled to the side because all I had was loose cloves with the bottoms chopped off. 

Credit: Naomi Tomky

I’d been out of town for a few days, so the garlic might have been a little old, I reasoned. So this morning I ran out and grabbed more. This time, the head stayed about 90% together, but was holding on by a thread. Even trying as hard as I could to be gentle as I placed it cut side down on the board, the second the cleaver touched it, the cloves — still in their peels — all flew out.

Credit: Naomi Tomky

I tried again and again, but there was no way to make it work, and I started to realize that the cleaver was landing remarkably close to my fingers pulling the stem out of the way. I gave up before I wound up another ER victim of viral garlic hacks and resigned myself to spending the rest of the weekend testing different ways to preserve all this garlic that had now been cut, but not peeled.

From now on, I live by one of the comments on the original video post: “Not going to be suckered by another garlic trick.”