The Chef-Approved Hack To Peel A Whole Head Of Garlic In Seconds

So many of the tastiest dishes out there call for lots of garlic, from simple homemade garlic bread to spicy aromatic curries, or hearty casseroles. But if you ever look at a recipe and feel a bit dismayed upon seeing the amount of garlic you need to prep, you're not alone. Peeling the thin papery skin from the cloves is notoriously laborious and time-consuming, enough to tempt even the most confident of home cooks to reach for the jarred garlic instead.

Fortunately, there are plenty of helpful hacks and tricks out there to ease frustrating everyday kitchen tasks, including peeling garlic, with tips ranging from bashing it with a knife to heating it. But when a game-changing hack is recommended by chefs and celebrity cooks, it catches our attention. This particular hack, which simply involves a jar with a lid, takes just a few seconds and allows you to peel a full head of garlic in one go.

There are a couple of slight variations on the hack, but the general premise is simple: Place the garlic in a sealable jar, such as a mason jar, and vigorously shake it until the skin detaches from the cloves. The result is perfectly peeled cloves, without sticky, garlic-scented fingers.

How to use a jar to peel whole garlic

The quickest way to peel garlic using a jar involves keeping it whole. Simply use a sharp knife to cut a thin slice off the top and bottom of the bulb, place it in a jar, and shake it vigorously for about 20 seconds. The papery skin should slide right off, leaving you with a bunch of neat cloves ready for cooking. In some cases, you may not even need to slice off the ends first; just place the whole head in the jar, and shake away.

A slightly different approach to the same hack involves first breaking the garlic apart so that the cloves can go into the jar separately, rather than as a full bulb. Alternatively, give the jar two shaking sessions: first with the whole head of garlic to remove the outer layer of skin, giving it a gentle rub if it needs a helping hand to come off. Then, put the unpeeled cloves back in the jar and shake again until the skin is removed.

Whichever way you try it, garlic peeled in a jar retains its fresh flavor, far surpassing that of pre-peeled garlic bought in a jar. This shaking method is even one of Martha Stewart's best hacks for aspiring home chefs. As a bonus, you also get a bit of an upper body workout.

More hacks to peel and store fresh garlic

If you don't have a spare mason jar to try the garlic peeling hack, you could use another food storage container with a lid, or even two metal bowls held together to form a dome shape in a pinch, though this method requires a bit more coordination. The shaking trick works best for prepping garlic in bulk, and tends to be more effective with larger cloves than smaller ones. However, there are other techniques that can also help with large-scale peeling prep.

Placing an unpeeled whole bulb of garlic in a bowl, half-filling it with water, and microwaving it for 30 seconds is one method some swear by. The cloves are supposed to easily squeeze out of their skins, though you may find they become slightly soft in texture due to the heating process. Alternatively, simply insert a knife into the bulb and twist it to release a peeled clove, requiring no other utensils.

Once you've prepared your large batch of garlic, the good news is that it's easy to store for future recipes if you don't need to use it all immediately. Just pop the peeled cloves into an airtight container, and they should last for up to a week in the refrigerator. Meal prep just got a whole lot easier.