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I'm going to be making a soup dish that calls for 50 cloves of roasted garlic. I have always roasted garlic by cutting off the top of a head, drizzling it with oil, and wrapping with foil. Then when they're done I just squeeze out the paste from each clove. But some comments on the recipe say it's easier to roast them already peeled in a covered dish so you don't have to squeeze 50 cloves and deal with all the stickiness and peels.

Since I already know how to easily peel whole cloves very quickly, it doesn't make much difference in the amount of work for me to do it either way. In fact, it's probably quicker to peel them.

My question is, does it affect taste or any other quality to roast them as an entire unpeeled head rather than as peeled individual cloves? And if not, should roasting time be adjusted?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Garlic roasted as a head, as unpeeled cloves, or as peeled cloves is all much the same. It is just easier to handle unpeeled, and even easier when kept as a head

For easy results just trim the excess paper skin and roots of a whole garlic head, carefully trim just the tops of most of the cloves

Don't drizzle with oil and wrap in foil, this will just make a mess, and steam them more than roast them. Garlic is already very oily, it shouldn't need any more. Roasting items should be exposed to dry heat, not steam

Roast until soft and medium-dark brown. When cooled slightly, pull cloves apart and lay them out on a board. Squeeze out each clove using a firm spatula or other blunt tool. This should not be too messy. Wear disposable gloves if you don't like garlic on your hands

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I think the olive oil is traditionally just added for flavour, not because any more oil is needed. And the steaming effect from the foil helps soften it up if you plan to use it as a paste. I do however agree that both are unnecessary, the garlic roasts just fine without it and unless you're eating the roasted garlic by itself, it's basically a waste of perfectly good olive oil. –  Aaronut Jan 26 '13 at 15:36

If you plan to freeze, I've seen it suggested that you roast the cloves individually, so you can freeze them that way and use them a little at a time instead of having a large amount of paste. From what I understand, the papery skin does not freeze well, and it's easier to peel first if you want individual cloves for measuring.

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Peeled cloves can burn where they touch your roasting pan when roasting for a long time or at higher heat. Roasting in the skin protects against this a bit. So you may have to adjust your roasting time and method if you go with peeled cloves.

Personally, I would go with whole heads as I find they steam a little during roasting anbd produce a better texture at the end - fewer dried out bits.

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