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How big (grams) is a clove of garlic, as found in a recipe?

I have a lot of recipes that call for some number of cloves of garlic. The problem is that garlic is a plant, and the size of the clove varies greatly. My local supermarket sells heads of garlic with really large cloves -- I weighed some tonight while cooking and they clocked in around 30g. On the other hand, the local convenience store sells small, roughly uniformly-sized heads of garlic in a mesh sheath whose cloves are about 10g each. This is a huge variation in size and weight!

My recipes generally don't include weights, they just say things like "5 cloves garlic". Is there any "standard size" for a clove, or even a "rule of thumb" that I can use? (This is literally the difference between 150g and 50g of garlic in a dish ... or the difference between a 'garlic bomb' and possibly something that's under-flavored.) I'm just really tired of accidentally making dishes that taste overwhelmingly of garlic ...

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    If you're finding your dishes taste too strongly of garlic, you're free to use less than the recipe suggests - 3 cloves of whatever size you have instead of 5. You might just not be as keen on it as the chefs you follow. Some people can't stand garlic; I like it and may add extra - but use far less salt than recipe writers.
    – Chris H
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 14:31

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At some point you have to accept that cooking isn't totally precise. This is one of those points. Even so some recipes do call for "a fat clove of garlic" to guide you (you could use 2 or even 3 little ones).

As well as varying in size, garlic varies in strength, which you can't measure. The flavour also mellows with cooking, which you can but not realistically to enough precision.

If you like garlic, you can bias towards more, if you think the merest hint is appropriate, bias towards less. Cooking a single portion, weighing garlic would need accuracy of the order of 1g anyway, which most scales can't really do even if they count in single grams; until recently less than 5g precision was rare, and that's not enough to discriminate small/medium/large.

Those garlic bulbs with massive cloves are sometimes labelled differently from everyday garlic. I can't often get them but prefer them as I never want one small clove. The other size is more typical, but variation within one bulb can be a factor of 4 (or even more when I grow my own)

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  • Sure but which is the "normal" clove i should be using as a baseline? The big 30g ones or the small 10g ones? My "big" garlic is normal to me and what i can get at the supermarket without much effort, but I've seen a lot of variance in what's available elsewhere. When people (chefs, recipe authors) talk about a "clove", how big a clove are they referring to in general? Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 13:39
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    @Joe I don;t think you can generalise. I considered it. The big one I got recently wasn't mild like I've seen sold as elephant garlic in the past (and there the cloves are generally even bigger and fewer), but wasn't massively strong either.
    – Chris H
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 14:30
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    @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas There is no baseline. There's no standard garlic clove. Two authors who say "three cloves" might mean different amounts of garlic.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 16:18
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    I'd always call the '3 in a bag' your baseline. Other than those I can get variously-labelled 'jumbo' or 'elephant' but my local grocer also sells what looks like jumbo, but quite purple hinted & the skin hasn't yet gone completely dry & papery, which is really a new thing to me. I would guesstimate that each clove, whatever the size, has the same amount of 'garlickness', as the bigger they get, the milder they are. The little ones can nearly make you cry, the big ones you could just eat as they are.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 17:30
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    @rumtscho - I only really called it that because the OP already hinted at it. Basically, if you buy them bagged rather than singles, they tend to be the smaller variety. Even my corner shop sells this type, as well as the more esoteric.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 15:01

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