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I am looking through some recipes that came with a French pressure cooker I just bought (in Belgium). It seems most of the recipes that use garlic ask for one or two upeeled garlic cloves (ongeschilde teentjes knoflook). Is this really a thing, or am I misunderstanding something? If you include unpeeled garlic cloves, do you still chop off the end that used to connect to the heart?

  • I don't know about garlic, but onion skins have long been used as a cheap dye. If you put unskinned onions in stock, it gets nicely golden. I wonder if somebody decided to translate the practice to garlic, not knowing the rationale behind it - I doubt that white garlic skins will color the stock. – rumtscho Jan 22 '15 at 11:48
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    Can you show us a link to such a recipe? I have heard of using unpeeled garlic cloves, but usually, they are removed at the end. – Mien Jan 22 '15 at 12:03
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    Adding to the above comment. If I'm making a stock with garlic in or roast potatoes etc I'll just chuck the garlic in. Not because the skin adds anything but just to save time. As far as I'm aware the skin is tasteless, woody and colourless adding nothing to the resulting product. – Doug Jan 22 '15 at 12:14
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    I've seen it called for when you're cooking over high heat ... the idea is that it helps to protect the garlic from burning. When used this way, you'll then remove them before you start adding so much that you can't easily pick them back out. – Joe Jan 22 '15 at 15:36
  • I made some Channa Masala and threw in some of the garlic peels as an experiment. They did NOT dis/integrate even after two hours of pressure cooking, and I ended up fishing out ragged fibers while eating. The surface of the liquid did kinda look jelly-like, but that might have just been the clarified butter and not the pectin in the peels... – Andrew Wagner Apr 1 '15 at 12:13
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Unpeeled onions and garlic help thicken liquids (just a little). The skins of onions and garlic are at least 10% pectin, the substance that is used to thicken jellies. If you are making a stock or a soup, you can place the washed unpeeled garlic or onion quarters in an oversized herb sachet. After cooking you remove the sachet and discard its contents.

The skins have also been found to be rich in antioxidants. You can read all about the science of garlic and onions in Garlic and Other Alliums. While it does discuss the antioxidant effects of Alliums in general it does not treat the particular compounds that have been discovered in the skins.

  • Interesting usage but hard to say if it's the reason why it's used in the recipe... – lajarre Jan 30 '15 at 9:57
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According to Trash Backwards, leaving skins on garlic in a roast allows the garlic to cook more evenly. There are multiple suggestions out there that say that the skins add additional flavor and nutrients to a broth.

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It actually makes sense if preparing a broth or stock: you don't want the skin to come out while cooking and float in the stock: it won't be pleasant to see nor to eat.

On the other side, when roasting or sautéing, leaving the skin on helps avoiding the cloves burn, which would give an unpleasant taste.

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