I use whatever's cheap and only metal. To clean, I immediately pass it under the faucet and wipe it with my fingers. No soap needed. The trick is to not wait - otherwise the dried garlic becomes sticky and you have to let it soak to clean it.
I use it for various purpose where I need crushed garlic but don't want to take out the butcher's block and chef knife, i.e. for a garlic vinaigrette, for aioli, etc...
My mom got me one that was labeld for 'sushi' - its all metal and works great. Theres no insert to pop out. I was skeptical when she got it for me, but I'm now a convert, and am meaning to donate my old ones to the goodwill
"I have one of those [Microplane], never thought of using it for garlic! I'll try it out next time!!
As I have posted repeatedly, the Microplane, introduced 12 or 15 years ago as an innovative and highly effective wood rasp, was pointed out by Leonard Lee, the founder of the woodworking tool supplier, Lee Valley Tools, as a really great kitchen tool.
It's not only great with garlic, but with any hard grating cheese, nutmegs, and similar foodstuffs. They now make a wide range of kitchen tools, all based on their ultra-fine, razor-sharp rasp technology. You don't have to go to a woodworking tool store- Williams-Sonoma has a dozen variations of the tool.
Use your knife. It's faster and cleaner. The funniest thing I ever read about a garlic press was by Anthony Bourdain and some thing to the effect of I don't know what that shite is that comes out of those things but it sure as he++ isn't garlic!
I used a Zyliss for a bit but it was more of a pain to clean and slower than a knife.
Oxo is very good at those sort of small tools. Kitchen Aid has a decent line out for a low price. Westmark is the king of small tools. Zyliss are OK. Supermarket generic do a good job. Etc.
You're catching a lot of flak about using a garlic press at all and it's worth listening to the thought behind it. Garlic presses didn't becompe popular for their utility. Rather so a housewife could keep the smell of garlic off her hands, because a few decades ago it was considered "stinky."
There really are more efficient ways. But, if you want a garlic press you should have a garlic press. They're only a few bucks, so toujours gai toujours gai and wotthehell wotthtehell.
Ha - never thougfh I'd see an Archy and Mehitabel quote here - loved the series! Don Marquis' poetry and short stories are a nice experience as well.
I often use other methods besides a press for processing garlic, but there are times that the press does what I want faster and easier than using a knife. Depends on the cooking situation and my mood which way I'll go.
I use a garlic press for one thing: when making tahini sauce (i.e., raw tahini, lemon juice, raw garlic, salt). The first time I made tahini sauce, I didn't have a garlic press, and just minced as finely as I could with a knife. But biting down on pieces of raw garlic in the sauce will definitely wake you up. So I got a press and have enjoyed my tahini sauce ever since. I got lucky and found a heavy duty SS Rosle brand for one or two bucks. This thing must sell for at least $20 or more new. It never occurred to me till much later that I could use a fine grater and achieve a similar result.
I mostly use a knife because I usually only need to mince the garlic. But for a few things, e.g., Tahini sauce, crushed garlic is required and a press works very well for this and does the job very quickly and easily. To mince garlic with a knife fine enough so that it is equivalent to crushed would require an inordinate amount of time and effort. So when you need crushed garlic I can recommend the Rosle brand that works well for me and is very easy to clean. There's no model number on it, but it appears to be stainless steel and has a number of moving parts for easy cleaning, but is all connected and does not disassemble.
One other thing: When Key Limes are in season, and I can find a good price, I'll buy a couple hundred or so, juice them, and freeze them in cubes for future use (mainly my favorite, Key Lime Pie). But since most of them are smaller than golf balls, juicing is really difficult, time consuming, and tiring on the hands and fingers. But awhile back someone mentioned they had used a garlic press to juice Key Limes! I haven't tried it yet but, if it works, the amount of time and effort saved would make owning a press well worth it just for that. That would also make the press a multi-tasker.
One last thing on a more general topic: I found this site a few months ago and have visited a few times. As far as forums go, this is one of the best I have found. The depth of knowledge displayed by nearly everyone is pretty amazing. When you couple that with nearly everyone being very nice, and very helpful, even to a tyro cook like myself, I just wanted to mention my appreciation for the help I have received from those kind folks. I hope you have had a similar experience. So, this is why I feel like reciprocating with whatever knowledge I have picked up. Cheers.