Let me ask you a very basic kitchen question, one that all cooks have to deal with at some point or another:
How are you gonna deal with garlic?
Maybe this question seems strange. I guess it does, a little. But I ask about garlic because it’s a pain in the butt. It’s also a pain in the butt that, if you’re a home cook, you really can’t avoid. A huge number of recipes out there call for garlic and if you don’t know how to quickly and easily prep it then this one ingredient can really drag down your kitchen.
Never fear! Gadgets are here!
That is a garlic peeler. This is a Microplane:
These two items are going to make your garlic-prepping-life so much better.
Before I discovered the garlic peeler I used to smash the peel off cloves of garlic by bashing them with the side of my chef’s knife. This was a pretty nerve wracking process because I always worried just a little bit that my hand might catch the edge of the blade and…. well you get it. A much safer way to easily peel your garlic is to deposit several cloves inside this strange looking plastic tube thusly:
Then, pressing firmly, roll the cloves inside the tube. When you dump them out they will be peeled!
Easy peasy! Now, I got my garlic peeler from Sur La Table on sale for, I think, $4.99. But even at $10 this seems like a bargain to avoid future nightmares of cutting the fleshy part of one’s hand open while smashing garlic. I’m not a big fan of gadgets that only do one job. I haven’t found another job this gadget does yet (peel hazelnuts!?!), but it’s small enough and mushy enough to jam into the corner of my drawer, so I don’t feel so bad that it only serves one – albeit very important – purpose.
Now for the Microplane. If you don’t own one of these, please, please PLEASE do yourself a favor and go out and get one. It’s going to change your life.
Unlike the garlic peeler, the Microplane actually has a ton of uses. I use it to grate nutmeg, hard Italian cheeses (like Parmesan), mince ginger, shave chocolate, zest citrus….. anything you need a very fine grater to do this thing does in about a split second. I just put the blade over a small prep bowl (see above) and grate whatever I’m using into the bowl.
The only catch is that you need to remember to rinse the Microplane as soon as you’re done with it if the item you’re grating is wet. Wet items dry out and stick something awful to the blade of the Microplane, which will shred your kitchen sponge or rag just as quickly as garlic or ginger if you try to scrub the blade. So, just take a second and rinse it quickly when you’re done. Easy!
Also, always make sure that you put the cover on the blade before storing your Microplane. I’ve definitely gotten fingertips caught in the blade and that really stiiiiiings. You can imagine what it would feel like to reach into a drawer and graze your fingers or knucles over the uncovered teeth of the blade. Bad things. Use the cover, y’all.
By using these tools I transformed the scary, sometimes lengthy process of peeling and mincing garlic from a 2 minute-per-clove task to a 60 seconds per head of garlic task. Amazing!
Hope this helps out in your kitchen!