DIY Food

How to Mellow Garlic and Onions

June 10, 2014

Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: Chill out. And get your alliums to do the same.


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As much as we value alliums as a base for all we do, their bite is easy to resent and difficult to forget: An errant fleck of raw onion or garlic at lunch will stay with you all day, and have you dreaming of dental hygiene products.

There are ways, though, to soften the bite of onions and garlic without cooking them -- so you can take advantage of their crunch and freshness without offending your palate or scaring off dinner guests. Here's how:

How to Mellow Garlic

To mellow garlic:

  • Boil it in water or milk for about five minutes, or
  • Zap it in the microwave for a couple of minutes -- according to Cook's Illustrated, both of these techniques deactivate the compound in garlic that causes sharpness.

How to Mellow Onions on Food52

To mellow onions:

  • To retain their crunch, soak your onions in water for at least 10 minutes.
  • To soften them and bring out a bit of sweetness, sprinkle them with a generous amount of salt, making sure to coat each piece well. Rinse off the salt before adding your onions to salads or sandwiches.
  • It will change your onions' flavor, but soaking them briefly in a bit of vinegar will soften them, both in taste and texture -- think of it as an abridged quick pickle. 

Once you've softened your onions, try adding them to a kale salad, an egg sandwich, or pasta salad -- and add your mellowed-out garlic to hummus, vinaigrettes, and pesto.

Tell us: How do you take the bite out of your alliums?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Marian Bull

Written by: Marian Bull


1 Comment

melskitchen June 10, 2014
Ever wonder how that Greek Souvlakia can be so good even smothered in thin sliced raw onions that don't (usually) overpower? Pre-soaking, that's how!