What Exactly Is a Clove of Garlic Anyways?

published Oct 13, 2023
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Someone breaking apart a garlic bulb over a cutting board
Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

We go through a lot of garlic in my house, although not as much as when I was a line cook responsible for peeling garlic for service every night. Garlic is that magic addition that brings out the best in the ingredients around it, from broccoli to bread. But what exactly is the difference between a bulb or head and a clove? Let’s take a look.

What Is a Garlic Clove?

Fresh garlic is typically sold by the head, also known as the bulb, which is cloaked in a papery skin. Peel back that skin and you’ll reveal the garlic cloves inside. These cloves pop off easily from the stem, so you can use what you need and leave the rest for later.

How Many Cloves of Garlic Are in a Head?

On average, there are about 10 to 12 cloves of garlic per head, but that number can vary depending on the size of the bulb.

How Much Minced Garlic Is One Clove?

If a recipe calls for one clove of garlic, that’s roughly the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of minced garlic. Although subbing garlic powder for fresh garlic will give you a very different taste, you can do so in a pinch. Use 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder per clove of fresh garlic.

How Should You Store Garlic?

Fresh heads of garlic should be kept in a cool, dry place, like your countertop (just not in the same place as potatoes; the ethylene gas will cause them to sprout). Once you’ve peeled and chopped garlic, keep it fresh by topping it with a little bit of olive oil and storing in the fridge for up to two days. You can also freeze peeled garlic cloves

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