Does It Hack? Peeling Garlic Using a Plastic Container

© Phoebe Melnick
We put an Internet kitchen hack to the test to see if it’s really worth it.

Does It Hack? is a new series where we take common time and energy-saving cooking techniques from the internet and challenge whether or not they actually make your life any easier.

The Problem

Peeling garlic. The paper-thin skins stick to the cloves and your fingers get stinky. Unless you love the smell of garlic, then it’s like putting on perfume.

The Usual Solution

Smash the garlic with the flat side of a knife and peel the skin away. Some methods also include slicing the end off of the clove, or using a quick zap in the microwave to loosen skins. (Most pros I talked to use the first method.)

The Internet’s Solution

Place unpeeled cloves between two bowls or a plastic container and shake. The friction of the garlic bumping against itself causes the skins to fall away.

The Test

I decided to compare the knife smashing method and the shaking method with just three cloves of garlic — an average amount you might need for cooking dinner on any given night. (To be fair, this hack is pretty effective for large amounts of garlic. If you’re trying to peel an entire bulb or two at once for later use, then by all means use the shaking method.)

In a timed test, the knife method took me about 33 seconds to produce three peeled (but, yes, smashed — more on the later) cloves. And, frankly, I was pretty sloppy with the smashing. Behind the Scenes Fact: The table I was working on was a little wobbly, so it took a couple strikes to get a proper crack out of each one. I’m not a professional chef. Sue me.

The shaking method was a whole ‘nother animal. After well over a minute, 78 seconds to be exact, of shaking that container like an overzealous mixologist, only two of the cloves shed their peel. Two! I actually continued shaking even longer after we stopped the timer and that third clove just wouldn’t peel. Another Behind the Scenes Fact: I attempted the shaking method three times, each one producing the same results regardless of the amount of time spent gyrating. It’s weird, because I’ve seen this method successfully peel all the cloves before, so I can’t account for why it didn’t work this time. I’m not a professional science. Sue me.

Does it Hack?

Not really. If you’re just peeling a few cloves for pasta night, don’t dirty up your good lunch containers. Put your garlic on the cutting board, which you’re probably using already, and smash it with your chef’s knife, which you’re also probably using already. It’s twice as fast, and bonus: you’ve already done some of the mincing work! Unless you need pristine nuggets of garlic for slicing into fry-able chips, the smash method will release more garlicky goodness into your dish. And that’s the whole point of garlic, right?

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