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We're doing a food place for college students so the quality doesn't need to be top class, whereareas speed & cost matter more. We may need to prep a kilo or two of garlic for stir-fry and such (mainly Asian style).

Do we have to cleanly peel every garlic clove? Can we just cut off the hard & brown bottom and chop the garlic without peeling? What's a good way to prep large amounts of garlic quickly?

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    Okay, technically it's not a duplicate, as you're asking about large amounts ... but I answered that how to do it in one of the earliest questions on this site : cooking.stackexchange.com/a/906/67 – Joe Nov 6 '20 at 18:01
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    Does this answer your question? How do you peel garlic easily? – Joe M Nov 6 '20 at 22:27
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    For the two people who voted to close this as a duplicate -- it is NOT a duplicate. If it was, the accepted answer would've answered his question, and that one kinda sucks if you're dealing with more than a couple of bulbs. Yes, there's an answer to that question that answers his question (which I already mentioned), but that does not make it a duplicate. – Joe Nov 7 '20 at 17:28
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The quickest way to peel lots of garlic is placing a bunch of cloves in a large metal bowl, placing another metal bowl of the same size upside down on top, holding them together and shaking vigorously for 20-30 seconds. Most of the peels should come loose and it will be fairly simple to separate out the garlic cloves from the peels. They can then be chopped quickly either by hand or with a food processor. I would strongly advise against not peeling them. The peel is not dangerous, but it is tough and papery even with cooking. Your dish would be sprinkled with tiny inedible papery flakes which would be very unappetising.

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    Note, this will also work with any hard bowl, such as ceramic or glass. This can be aided by slicing off the bottom of each clove first. – aslum Nov 6 '20 at 21:03
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    When I saw this question I was immediately reminded of this excellent video that demonstrates the process: youtube.com/watch?v=Dc7w_PGSt9Y – TylerW Nov 6 '20 at 22:29
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    @aslum you should be very careful if it's glass, it's really easy to break jars and such using that method. – eps Nov 7 '20 at 0:20
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    a small study of this technique that I did a few years ago: cooking.stackexchange.com/a/45477/67 – Joe Nov 7 '20 at 17:21
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    This trick worked for me pretty well. Just shake, pick out peeled cloves, and repeat till all is peeled. Some don't quite get peeled which I just peel with a knife. I do dislike how it makes everything kinda sticky, but it works. – John Zhau Nov 8 '20 at 6:31
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Have you considered ready prepared frozen garlic instead?
It's actually cheaper than fresh.

£2.75/kg from any supermarket.

Alternatively, if by 'Asian' you mean 'Indian' try garlic powder instead - that's the BIR [British Indian Restaurant] standard. Approx £8/kg, but of course it goes a lot further than the same weight in fresh/frozen.

If you're dealing in wholesale quantities, then you can get ready-peeled, fresh, but it's the most expensive option, and the hardest to look after if you're not going to be using the whole lot at once.

As already mentioned, serving garlic skin will not endear you to your customers.

In the UK, you can get the following types, in order of how much like garlic they actually taste.
Fresh
Fresh, peeled
Frozen, peeled
Frozen, crushed
Frozen, purée
Dried, powdered
Canned [or jar] peeled
Canned [or jar or tube] purée

Of these, you'll hardly spot the difference between fresh & frozen, whole or crushed. Purée is a little milder but still tastes like actual garlic. Canned doesn't work for me at all, it's lost all its 'edge'. …and note I put powdered above canned for taste.
Frozen crushed is almost impossible to tell from fresh, but is expensive; a bit of a supermarket premium product. Frozen purée is very cheap & very versatile. With frozen, if I'm cooking it I'll use purée, if it's going to be raw or dropped very late in cooking, I'll use crushed.
[I've never seen fresh, peeled in supermarkets, only from wholesalers, the rest you can buy just about anywhere in the UK]

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  • Alternatively, you may be able to find pre-minced fresh garlic (typically in jars suspended in water, just drain the water before you use it). This is what I typically use for almost anything I need fresh garlic for except aioli (I’m really picky about my aioli, so that’s about the only place I make a point to prepare from cloves), and it works rather well in most cases. The only caveat is that you have to keep it chilled to keep it fresh. – Austin Hemmelgarn Nov 6 '20 at 23:44
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    This sounds like a regional thing -- I've lived in very diverse communities in the US my life and have never seen frozen peeled garlic. I have seen fresh peeled garlic, but never frozen. – yuritsuki Nov 7 '20 at 8:44
  • @yuritsuki - I'm in the UK. I've added all the types you can get here [in pretty much any supermarket] in order of 'taste', with some further explanation underneath. – Tetsujin Nov 7 '20 at 8:57
  • @AustinHemmelgarn - I've never seen 'fresh' in a jar, only ever with some kind of preserving - vinegar or pasteurisation. I've tried a few variants on "lazy garlic" but never found one I liked. – Tetsujin Nov 7 '20 at 8:59
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    @Tetsujin Where I live, peeled fresh garlic is stored in a resealable bag with no preservatives. – yuritsuki Nov 7 '20 at 9:18
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If you have dough kneading machine (or any of that type) just cut top and bottom from garlic heads, throw the cloves in the bowl and turn the machine on (with and ending that have the most "stirring" ability). Then just sif the skin from garlic itself. Pros - only work needed is to cut the heads in a way that also cut tops and bottoms of cloves. Machine do the rest while for how long you want while you do other things.

There is also method (but in my opinion more effort consuming). Crush each head (bettwen two cutting board for example). Put cloves aside and cut their steams off. Then crush them lighly again and the skin can be easily removed.

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For the peeling, just take the whole clove, crush it with the side of a knife or some other flat object, and you can pick the peel off in one piece. I couldn't believe it until I tried it myself, but it really works extremely well.

For the mincing, I'd just use a food processor and watch it carefully to get the right size and not make a puree.

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Why not just use a garlic press? This removes the need to peel the garlic beforehand and if the hole becomes clogged with garlic skin you just dump it out and continue pumping out garlic?

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    Maybe...for a small amount. Garlic presses are a pain to clean, and the skin will clog up the works after just a clove or two. Really, I find a chef knife far more efficient and effective. For the question asked, this will not be the best tool for the job. Plus, for stir fry, one often would like larger pieces so they don't burn. – moscafj Nov 7 '20 at 12:26
  • The question is mostly concerned with peeling the garlic, though, which a garlic press won't do for you. – Philipp Nov 9 '20 at 15:24
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After you have loosened the peels by some method, you can get rid of the peels by winnowing, the traditional method of separating grain from chaff. This method requires:

  • a wide bowl or basket to hold the garlic
  • access to outdoors
  • a stiff breeze
  • reasonable hand-eye coordination
  • an outdoor area where leaving garlic peel scattered on the ground will not be considered littering

Take the bowl of garlic outside and toss the garlic up into the air, then catch it in the bowl again. The breeze will carry away the loose peels, while the cloves will fall down into the bowl. Repeat several times, until most of the peels are gone.

If you don't have a stiff breeze, you could use a fan, or have a partner wave a large baking sheet to create breeze. But don't try this indoors; the time you spend cleaning up the scattered garlic peel will eat up all the time you saved from not picking the cloves out by hand.

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  • You can also use a cutting board to fan across the top of the bowl, which will get a lot of the chaff, but not the stuff that's stuck under cloves. (you need two people, one to fan, one to toss for non-windy days ... or indoors, if you're willing to potentially make a mess ... but the fan means you can control how strong the wind is) – Joe Nov 6 '20 at 18:08
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    OP says speed is a major consideration. This has got to be the slowest method so far… as well as the messiest & most labour-intensive. – Tetsujin Nov 6 '20 at 18:17
  • For a large number of garlic cloves, this method is neither slow nor labor intensive. It will take a maximum of 5 minutes, and only one person. If you have only a few garlic cloves, you can hand-pick them faster than that. But if you have hundreds of garlic cloves, this method will be faster. – csk Nov 6 '20 at 18:48
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Roasting garlic is easy, gives a better flavor in many cases, and makes it super easy to remove the peel. It can even be done in the microwave very easily. Once you roast it, you can either squeeze the cloves out one by one (it will come out very quickly), or you can use a paring knife to remove them, whichever is easier for you - either way it will be much, much easier than peeling raw garlic.

The flavor will change, of course; roast garlic loses some of the sharpness and instead has a more well rounded, mellow flavor, so it won't fit in every dish - but many stir fry dishes (especially beef) work well with it.

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    You really don't want to use roasted garlic for stir frying, it will definitely not taste right. – eps Nov 7 '20 at 0:22

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