Garlic - Do you mince or use a press?

nicko

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In another thread about knife skills we were talking about mincing garlic and I was wondering what everyone's preference was mincing or pressing. This past year I find myself reaching for my garlic press more and more instead of mincing. 
 
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I prefer to mince because I'm pretentious like that.
 
  Seriously though I do prefer to mince just because most of my cooking is rustic in style.  However, I use a fine grater instead of pressing when time is short.
 

phatch

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Depends. If I've got the board and knife out already from other work, I'll mince. If not, then I press.
 
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Depends on my mood and what I'm cooking.  Yesterday when making the bit pots of chili and spaghetti sauce, I minced because I was a chopping fool. lol  Other times, I'll pull out the press.
 
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I've got a press but I rarely use it.  Usually just whack or crush with the side of the knife and mince if doing just a few cloves.  If doing a lot, then the press.  I just don't like cleaning the thing.

mjb.
 
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Went through a period trying various makes/models of presses, and concluded I didn't see the point of them. They tend to clog, have to be washed, and don't do as good a job as my knife.

So, the obvious answer, I prefer to mince or crush into a paste.
 

nicko

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I stopped using a press many years ago. More trouble than it's worrth in my opinion.
 
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In another thread about knife skills we were talking about mincing garlic and I was wondering what everyone's preference was mincing or pressing. This past year I find myself reaching for my garlic press more and more instead of mincing. 
I use my knife for minced and a mortar and pestle to liquefy when making guacamole or garlic oil (for pizza).

I've used presses and actually like them, but gave up after breaking several in a row,

Terry
 
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oh I was showing this thread to my 20 year old son and he said the best way is with a razor blade!
I said "What!" He said "Mom havn't you seen the movie Good Fellows?"

Does anyone know what he's talking about?

Gypsy
 
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He's referring to a scene in that movie where some mobsters are still experiencing the the good things in life in the big house by preparing their own meals. The 'chef' insists the secret of good spagetti is to produce transparent slices of garlic using a razor blade....
It's based on the life of Henry Hill so apparently it was both what you knew & who you knew that got you a razor blade in the joint!
 
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Sorry gypsy.. good fellows sounds like they were cutting something less like garlic than flour....
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(Titomike thanks for the explanation, one less sleepless mother tonight!)

So.. as far as the original question, I've tried presses, I don't "get" what the hell the press does? More often than not it just clogs up and I end up with a couple small rice like garlic pieces, and a puddle of juice/pulp sitting inside it. It looks like a mini ricer, that works for potatoes that have been softened. What is that supposed to do for me with garlic? How did that speed up anything?

I am a firm believer in striking the clove. You don't have to smash it so hard things go flying, just enough to fracture the internal structure some, then chop it. The chop ends up a dice. Yes it can be sticky, but if you are avoiding a technique because your knife got "ewww icky" then I refuse to speak to you... well not really... but you get the point.
 
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that's so awsome ..real chefs at work in the joint! Well my son got the movie out and just showed me the scene. I then realized I had watched it years ago and forgot  that movie. It was so violent all about the real italian mobsters..but he was Irish the main character I think....anyhoW what a lark my son had the movie ...

thanks for the update Tikomike

Gypsy
 
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KYH and others who mince - I'm with you.  By the time you've found your garlic press, make sure its all settled in, then crush, scrape off, clear out the mush,  THEN clean it....Good grief...just use your knife.  If you want to get it really smooth, add some salt to the garlic on the board as an abrasive, then  crush and smoosh with the side of the blade till smooth enough for what your want.
 
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I'll use the press when I don't feel like dragging out the board and am not chopping anything else (rarely) but generally don't mince either. 
I find mincing (if by that you mean cutting slices into the clove leaving one end entire, and then cross cutting across the "fringe" you've created) to be way too time-consuming. 

I cut in half crosswise, put the flat sides down on the board and smash with the knife (it breaks it up more than just smashing the whole clove or lenghthwise cut clove) - then i chop back and forth over the smashed thing, then if i want it really fine, I rub the thick end of the blade over it like a spatula or palette knife - at a low angle to the board, and smear it more.  I can get it to a real cream like this.  I do this especially if i'm putting it into something raw. 

But depending on the last result I might just slice it (like for sauteeing cooked vegetables in oil for flavor, or for cooking stuff like cauliflower or zucchine slowly in oil till they get soft, for putting on pasta).  In that case you need the pieces to be bigger or they'll burn.

Still, i will also just put it in my garlic press, when i don't feel like peeling.  (trick: cut the unpeeled garlic crosswise and put the cut sides down facing the holes on the press.  Then the skin won't impede the garlic from coming out. 
 
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Touching on food science but for me garlic in Chile or Beef Burgundy is getting pressed. After a two or three hour simmer, the extra time to mince will have no flavor or texture gain IMO. I would think garlic through a press would be more beneficial for this as the cell structure gets thoroughly broken down and distributed.

 

For something like Green Beans Lyonnaise, or Shrimp with Garlic, I do minced.  I feel the structure of the garlic is kept more intact. Thus you end up with a layering and some separation of flavors in the dish. For you professionals out there, am I on the right track?         
 
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The absolute best way I know of is to smash it, sprinkle it with coarse salt, and work it into a paste with a bench scraper or back of knife.  The salt acts as an abrasive and makes short work of it.
 
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"Best" is a kind of nebulous term, Benway.

I often use the technique you describe. But if you really want a smooth garlic paste, the "best" way is to put the salt and garlic in a mortar, and go to work with the pestle.
 
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