FLAVOR AND AROMA
The amount of flavor and aroma that uncooked garlic has depends on how much you cut it. It will have the strongest smell when you puree or mash it. Minced or chopped it’s a little less aromatic. When it’s just sliced it has a very mild smell, and a whole clove has no smell at all. When cloves are cooked or baked whole, they taste sweet, and have even been added to some desserts! When preparing garlic for cooking, it’s a good idea to think about how strong you want the flavor to be in the finished dish.
Buy garlic that feels firm, with no nicks or soft spots. Any powdery spots mean it’s getting moldy. You can buy minced or whole cloves that are preserved in olive or vegetable oil. They need to be refrigerated to keep bacteria from growing on them. You can do your own this way, but freshly peeled cloves always have the best flavor.
Unpeeled garlic should be kept uncovered in a cool, dry place. Don’t put them near other foods, as they may end up tasting like garlic! Unpeeled garlic shouldn’t be refrigerated or frozen. “You’d think that there’s no issue with refrigerating garlic; you may even think that the cool storage would preserve the stuff. But refrigerated garlic actually spoils faster than it should; it grows mold and gets soft quickly in the fridge. Instead, keep your whole heads of garlic out on the countertop, perhaps in a bowl with your whole onions, and only store peeled, chopped, or cooked garlic in the fridge.”
If it is stored properly it should last up to three months. As they get older, sprouts start to grow in each clove. They are bitter and should be tossed out before chopping the garlic.
To peel garlic, place it on a cutting board on its side, and gently press down with the flat side of a knife. If it doesn’t come off easily, it means that it’s very fresh. An easier way is to microwave it for about 15 seconds and the skin will come right off. But using a garlic press is the easiest way of all. The garlic doesn’t need to be peeled. The skins are left in the press!
When sauteing garlic, be very careful not to burn it. The flavor turns intensely bitter, and you’ll have to start over.