A Trick in the Kitchen — Vampires, This One Isn’t for You

by Katy on February 6, 2012 · 46 comments

I waffle greatly between hating to cook and enjoying the process. But one thing that I know makes the whole experience less painful is when I can minimize the prep time. And for me, preprepared ingredients are key! And no, this doesn’t mean that I buy premade PB &J’s or those Trader Joe’s jars of pre-chopped garlic. (Seriously, those frozen pre-made PB&J’s make me doubt the future of humanity.)

It does seem that at least 75% of my meals involve chopped garlic, so to streamline the process I chop a tuchus load large amount of garlic all at once and then store it in the fridge ready for use. (And of course, I store it in a small glass canning jar.)

Chopping a huge amount of garlic at once certainly takes longer than it would to chop a clove or two, but the amount of time to wash the knife and cutting board is the same either way. And since I use my trusty Cuisinart, the entire process takes fifteen minutes, tops. Including cleanup. (Don’t have a food processor? Then just use a knife and add a few minutes to the process.)

Here are four heads of garlic ready to be chopped.


And here's the chopped garlic, maybe 30 seconds later. Careful not to chop it too much, or you'll end up with garlic paste.


And here's the finished product, as photographed by my less than interested 13-year-old son.

This jar of chopped garlic will probably last me around three weeks, and is a freaking godsend when I’m in the middle of dinner prep. Not to mention that it cost me a dollar, plus is packaging free!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Barb @ 1SentenceDiary February 6, 2012 at 9:58 am

Oh dear, I have to admit that I am one of those who purchases the jar of pre-chopped garlic. I buy a huge quantity of it at Costco, which lasts me for about a year. It’s awesome, whenever I want garlic I just grab my teaspoon and measure it out. I love it! For me, I’m more than willing to spend on jars of garlic and save in other ways.

But pre-made PB&J sandwiches? I hadn’t heard of those. What on earth are we coming to?!


Megg February 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Me too…it’s much more convenient for me. Although this does look easy, and it isn’t anything I’d thought about doing before, so maybe I will try this next time! The only problem for me is that I don’t use garlic that much, so it takes me ages to get through the big jar I buy…one of the reasons why I love having it!

I was always blown away by the people who bought a bag of pre-made, frozen pancakes. Really?? {We do use these at work though, because we offer breakfast to the kids and it’s much easier to do that.}


Becky February 6, 2012 at 10:26 am

My housemade used to buy jars of pre-chopped garlic, and it always smelled like old garlic to me – like garlic bulbs that have been sitting at the store or in the pantry for too long. Like garlic I would compost rather than cook with. Maybe making it at home solves that problem, too!


Katy February 6, 2012 at 10:27 am

It’s certainly fresh!



Lisa February 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Do you freeze it? My mother-in-law did for a while. No one could figure out why the ice cubes tasted garlicky for the longest time. Mmmmm. Lemonade with garlic.


Katy February 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Nope. I just keep it in a covered jar in the fridge.



hydra February 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Do you cover your garlic with oil or just put it in by itself? Thanks!

Lyn February 16, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Just a reminder NOT to cover the garlic with oil. It creates a breeding ground for botchulism. The commercially prepared chopped garlic is not at risk. The oil will not support bacterial growth but the water contained in the garlic will. Botulism bacteria can grow in this type of environment, even in a sealed bottle.

Happy cooking:)

Amanda @ The Scacchi House February 6, 2012 at 10:28 am

Why have I never thought of doing this?!?! How simple! As for the pre-made PB&J… I’m right there with ya.


Jackie February 6, 2012 at 10:43 am

A trick I learned from Rachael Ray, use a micro plane shredder and shred a clove of garlic, quick as can be and fresh.


Margaret February 6, 2012 at 10:44 am

I find those “uncrustables” utterly depressing. When I first heard about the product launch, I assumed they would flop. Here we are several years later, and I still see them in the freezer section. This means that people are buying them! Almost unfathomable.


Megg February 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm

While I understand the convenience (and, um, laziness!) if you’re THAT busy in the morning I can’t imagine that it would take that much longer to whip a bunch of those out on a weekend morning. If you’re really inclined to want to give your kid frozen PB&J, that is.


EcoCatLady February 6, 2012 at 10:54 am

I honestly can’t believe there is such a thing as pre-made PB&J sandwiches. Seriously, wouldn’t it take more time to open the package than to make one “from scratch” – can you really use the term “from scratch” in reference to peanut butter and jelly? The mind reels…

Anyhoo… I love your garlic idea… it certainly would make cooking easier. How long does it last in the fridge?


Katy February 6, 2012 at 11:15 am

I’ve never had it spoil. Lasts a nice looong time.



Megyn @Minimalist Mommi February 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm

How would you know if it goes bad? I’m SUPER OCD about food freshness lol!


Katy February 6, 2012 at 3:36 pm

I figure those Costco containers of garlic last for months and months, so a couple of weeks in my refrigerator is perfectly fine.



Diedra B February 6, 2012 at 5:14 pm

the frozen sandwiches are news to me too


Janinne February 6, 2012 at 11:01 am

I feel no shame about buying jars of minced garlic. A big jar is $1 here. Back when I was a purist and chopped my own, even when I had just bought it, half the bulb was dried out and unusable. Every store. It was only available 2 bulbs in a cellophane wrapped package, so pretty difficult to check bulb integrity until it was unwrapped at home. One memorable occasion I was going to make James Beard’s Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic and had to change my company dinner menu at the last minute due to the unusability of a fresh package I had just bought. That was the last straw.


astrid February 6, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Me too, on the buying prepared garlic. I love Trader Joes pre-cleaned garlic and it has lasts me months. Definitely worth it to me. If I get any garlic on my hands it lasts for days and makes my skin break-out. I also like their prechopped celery, onions and carrots. With so little time between work and meals, it is worth every cent. My kitchen/household is a mish/mash of pre-prepped items and homemade items like wood floor cleaner and hand soap. We go with the flow in this household.


Laure February 6, 2012 at 5:01 pm

You could always use a garlic press. No touching at all – not even peeling. Seriously, this tool has changed my life in the kitchen.


astrid February 6, 2012 at 6:22 pm

I do use a garlic press with the Trader Joe’s garlic. It come in un-peeled whole cloves. It works great- thanks.


Daisy February 7, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Peel whole heads of garlic in about 10 seconds and save lots of money! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d3oc24fD-c

Jenni February 6, 2012 at 11:04 am

Luv the homemade pre-made garlic idea! I’m growing my first batch of garlic this year and am excited to put it to good use!


Laura's Last Ditch--Adventures in Thrift Land February 6, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Uncrustables are an abomination. Those and Lunchables. I guess if a “food” (and I use that term loosely) ends in ‘-able,’ it’s horrible.


Megyn @Minimalist Mommi February 6, 2012 at 2:18 pm



Barb @ 1SentenceDiary February 7, 2012 at 7:57 am

Megyn, you made me literally LOL this morning! Thanks!


Spendwisemom February 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I read that chopping fruits and veggies when you get home from the store will encourage your family to eat them more regularly since they are ready to eat right away. I know I hate to peel a carrot just to eat it or having to wash lettuce makes me look for something else to eat. But, having it prepared really makes a difference because it is so convenient. I do like things fresh, so I probably won’t be chopping ahead of time, but it is a good idea to motivate kids to eat fresh fruits and veggies.


Jennifer February 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Why not buy a garlic press? Used of course LOL. But seriously, it takes me the same amount of time to press a fresh clove as it would to get the jar from the fridge and measure what I needed. Plus, garlic that has been pressed (or chopped ) within 10-15 minutes of eating has the most antibacterial properties that garlic can have. It diminishes greatly after that and isn’t nearly as good for you as freshly pressed. Garlic is an amazing immune booster when eaten fresh. yum!


Katy February 6, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I do have a garlic press, but I don’t like using it as there’s so much garlic that gets wasted.



Samantha February 6, 2012 at 6:58 pm

My garlic press doesn’t waste anything! Put it in with the skin still on and press it through, only the skin is left behind.


Jo@simplybeingmum February 7, 2012 at 9:44 am

You Guys beat me to it. I was going to suggest a garlic press. I have one that you pop the whole clove in with skin (from Lakeland – not cheap but worth every penny!) and it removes everything but the skin. It has changed my life 😉


Erin February 6, 2012 at 3:19 pm

I work in an elementary school and part of my job is cafeteria duty. You’d be shocked and appalled at what staples Uncrustables and Lunchables are. I’ve even seen knock-off Uncrustables — that should tell you something about the popularity.

I’ve never thought to chop garlic in the food processor. I’ve always just used a hand-held garlic press as I go. I wonder if it would be a timesaver …


Anne Weber-Falk February 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm

A great way to peel a lot of garlic. Separate all the cloves. Throw them into a big bowl. Cover that bowl with large plate or another bowl and shake it around for a bit. It’ll make a lot of noise but when you remove the bowl or plate you will find a bunch of garlic skins and the lovely cloves underneath it all. It really works and saves a ton of hand peeling and time. I use two big stainless steel bowls and it’s so fast and fun. It’s kinda fascinating the first time you do it.


Rachel February 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm

that’s awesome!!! peeling the skins off is by far one of my least favorite kitchen tasks and I use garlic ALL the time… can’t wait to try this! (and Katie’s idea, which I can’t believe I haven’t tried before since I’m obsessed with both garlic and my food processor…)


Daisy February 7, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Who needs to break separate them all. Just roll it under you palm then toss it in the bowl with the lid. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d3oc24fD-c


Marianne February 6, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Funny, I just used up the last of my jarred garlic last night and thought “i should just buy the heads and keep the crushed garlic in a jar in the fridge.” mmmmmm, all meals should start with olive oil and garlic.


Rebecca February 6, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I do this with onions too. I probably go through 3 lbs a week at least. Chop them all quick in the food processor and into a container in the fridge.

And I have been known to make my own version of “uncrustables” by taking an entire loaf of bread and mass producing PB or PB and J sammies, then putting the sandwiches back in the bread bag and putting the whole thing back in the freezer. Then just pop them out and into a container for lunch, or as a quick after school snack. It beats making them every morning, and after school for my sons.


Michelle Felt February 6, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I couldn’t ever dream of buying the pre-chopped garlic – it tastes nothing like fresh garlic. Blech! Pre-peeled, I have bought that, but it has been a long time. An earlier reader mentioned the bowl method for peeling and I was already trying to find the video for that http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d3oc24fD-c, it is a genius way to get a lot of garlic peeled in a snap. I love using my cuisinart for this kind of prep. I also recommend the garlic press – I peel mine first – but a friend doesn’t and there has never been garlic waste with either of ours, so it confused me that you ended up with waste?? …and poor vampires ;(


Laure February 7, 2012 at 6:26 am

I don’t peel my garlic first with the press, and it never occurred to me to do so; honestly, I thought that not peeling was half the purpose of the press, LOL. I don’t have waste with mine either, although my understanding is that some garlic presses are better than other, plus it depends on how hard you press.
That said, I can appreciate someone preferring to do a big batch at one time, if that’s their preference. Here’s hoping Katy (and others) have other nifty tricks to share in the future!


Van February 6, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Mmmmm…garlic. This post has seriously made me hungry. I use lots of garlic too, but I lazily buy the big jars of it, it’s one of the few things I don’t pre-prep at home.


Cheryl Breuer February 7, 2012 at 6:10 am

I cook with garlic nearly every day, too, and I’m surprised I never thought of this. I’m going to do the same thing with ginger, too. We make a lot of Indian food and stir-fry.


Jo@simplybeingmum February 7, 2012 at 9:48 am

Ready made pancake mix makes me doubt the future of humanity. First it was dried ingredients in a packet…and now it’s in bottles in liquid form whereby you just pour into the pan. And it’s coming up to that time of the year in the UK – Pancake Day! They are going to be everywhere. Seriously I can see myself picketing a local supermarket and staging a sit in. Either that or I’m going to hand out recipe cards in-store with how to make the 3 basic ingredients of flour…milk…and egg…into one of the simplest foodstuffs ever… *and breathe*


Daisy February 7, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Peeling whole heads of garlic in about 10 seconds! I LOVE THIS TRICK! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d3oc24fD-c


Sara Wolk February 8, 2012 at 10:37 am

I don’t know if I’m missing something here but peeing and chopping the garlic is one of the fun parts. It takes 20 seconds tops. Do you guys know the trick to make it pop out of the skin? You take the clove and lay the flat side of the knife on it and then smash it with your fist! Works like a charm, and if you worry about using the knife like this you can smash it with the bottom of a jar or cup or anything really. Then you can chop it any size you want for the meal. I find that fresh chopped garlic tastes REALLY different. I can always tell the difference when I’m eating the food. Katy’s pre-chopped is better than store bought, but that freshness is what makes the meal and as someone already said, fresh garlic is one of the most medicinal things we eat.


Renee February 8, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Have you seen this video on a quick way to peel garlic? Might save you even more time! http://youtu.be/0d3oc24fD-c


Katy February 8, 2012 at 7:39 pm

I just leave it as-is.



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