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I am always in favor of fresh ingredients when possible. I recently discovered that minced (and crushed and chopped) garlic is available in very inexpensive jars in the produce section of the grocery store. I've always bought garlic and chopped it for a given meal, but I wonder if such jars of prepared garlic are worthwhile.

Would purchasing prepared garlic in a jar be a time saver in some situations, or is the quality reduced such that it is not recommended?

As a side question, does minced garlic in a jar keep for very long once opened?

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up vote 16 down vote accepted

Yes, it is different. Does it matter? It depends.

If you're going to use garlic in a stew or anything else that would 'dissolve' the regular garlic anyway, it doesn't really matter all that much in my opinion.

If you want to preserve the texture and/or create a more 'urgent' garlic flavour in short-cooked food, I'd go with fresh.

Sidenote: most of the prepared garlic comes with additives, consider if you want to have those as a part of your diet.

As for keeping time once opened: no worries really - bacteria really don't like garlic all that much, so refrigerated you should have no problems hitting 6+ months.

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Agree, with the caveat that a seemly-obvious thing to do, storing fresh garlic in olive oil in the fridge, is a great way to grow botulism bacteria! Unlike things like sun-dried tomatoes, which are acidic and safe to store in oil, garlic is neutral and is a perfect site to grow anaerobic bacteria. If you want to use chopped garlic in the fridge, buy it from a company that knows what additives to use to make it safe. – Harlan Jul 18 '10 at 23:41
You can also just peel it and throw the whole cloves in the fridge to save some of that time. If you've got a garlic press, or you like to grate it as hwillow suggested, the peeling might be the most time-consuming part. – Jefromi Jan 18 '11 at 17:49

I think the main reason pre-prepared garlic exists is that some people don't like working with raw garlic directly i.e. getting their fingers/hands smelly.

You can't go wrong with raw garlic and it's easy to keep and prepare.

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I agree, we owned a couple of restaurants, and we had numerous "canned ingredients". We never ever ever in 20 years of cooking thought of even getting canned garlic. – dassouki Jul 19 '10 at 11:55

I think fresh garlic is much more flavorful! I tried the jarred garlic before, and I could definitely taste a difference. Yes, it's more convenient, but it's not as strong as fresh. A hand grater is useful when using fresh garlic. You won't have to chop and it helps prevent biting into larger pieces.

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The other benefit to choosing fresh garlic is that you can remove it.

Sometimes, particularly for a saute or other pan-cooked dish, I want the flavor of garlic, but I don't necessarily want to bite in to it. I'll cut the garlic into thick slices, or just smash it and throw it in whole, with the intention of removing it before serving.

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In my experience, fresh garlic is great for when you want texture, or to slow down the flavour infusion. For example, when baking potato chunks, I put fresh garlic in, and then the flavour doesn't take over the entire dish.

For other times, especially recipes that call for minced garlic, I have a jar of frozen crushed garlic that I bought at my local grocery. I'm not sure what's available where in the world, but in my area, the frozen garlic is cheap and has no additives in it at all.

Generally, one heaped teaspoon of frozen crushed garlic is equivalent to an average garlic clove.

On the other hand, for those times when you do want fresh garlic, a few drops of lemon juice on your hands afterwards and a quick rub will get the garlic smell off your fingers.

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I believe one cannot taste the difference between minced(canned) and fresh garlic once it is cooked. Especially if it's been stewed for hours in a slow cooker) So if I want a lot of garlic in my stew, I use minced one and save time!

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You can always buy fresh garlic, then chop it up yourself and freeze it in a plastic bag. Then when you need it, just take out one teaspoon or so for each clove you need and store the rest.

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I think some jarred garlic tends to have sort of a "sour" taste and doesn't have that delectable garlic sensation that gives garlic its reputation.

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