Food52 in 5

The Garlic-Chopping Hack That’s Given Me a *Lot* of My Time Back

Thanks, Mom.

February 13, 2019
Photo by Pixabay

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I've written before about my mother's predilection for a less-is-more kitchen. She, of the staunch belief that all you need is a sharp knife and cooking chopsticks to succeed, softened her stance just a bit on a recent visit when we started every morning with green smoothies, swiftly zipped up in my counter space–clogging Vitamix.

"So smooth," she'd remark, recalling the days of my last hand-me-down blender that liked to spew still-chunky liquid from the bottom of the canister if it were overloaded in any capacity. For the rest of her stay, my mom would continue enjoying these creamy, dreamy smoothies under my care—and then one day, she unexpectedly taught me something new.

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While I was at work during the day, she had gone out to help get the groceries, returning with some Korean pantry staples I was running low on: soy sauce, gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste), Asian pears (good for both snacking and marinating), and of course, scallions and garlic. Lots of garlic. Usually, I just pick up a few bulbs at a time, but she returned with a large clear canister filled to the brim with plump cloves that had already been peeled (you sometimes see these near the jars of minced garlic in the produce aisle).

"You should blend these up," she commented (more of a command than a suggestion, but that's neither here nor there), gesturing in the Vitamix's general direction while nudging the container towards me. I obeyed.

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Top Comment:
“You’re losing a lot of garlic flavor by doing that. Saves time, reduces flavor. ”
— Scott H.

Turns out, a few quick pulses on the Vitamix easily processes a container of cloves in a matter of seconds. Seconds that translate to many minutes saved at the cutting board, chop, chop, chopping away. In Korean cooking, this little shortcut is a true timesaver: Our garlic-loving cuisine requires heaping spoonfuls of minced garlic in what seems to be every bubbling jjigae, salty-sweet-spicy meat marinade, and every pungent jar of kimchi. Heck, it comes in handy when I make our favorite version of carbonara, or even a simple Honey-Garlic Chicken recipe.

I just use a hard rubber spatula to scrape out all of the just-processed "chopped" garlic into a clean glass jar. (I've heard Vitamix's Under Blade Scraper is game-changing for this.)

Just a few quick pulses away from garlic-chopping freedom. Photo by Me

After everything's in the jar, I keep it lidded in the fridge, taking it out as needed. A jam jar-ish size like this will last me a few weeks, and I've never experienced any garlic going bad using this method.

Just be sure to give your Vitamix or high-speed blender a thorough soak and wash afterwards. No one likes their morning smoothie imbued with garlic—not even my smoothie- and garlic-loving mother.

Are you a garlic lover? Let us know your favorite ways to chop up large amounts in one go!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • patricia gadsby
    patricia gadsby
  • Aida@thecraftingfoodie
  • B
  • Zozo
  • Anna Ross-Murphy
    Anna Ross-Murphy
Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.


patricia G. May 17, 2020
I am mystified. What's so hard about peeling and chopping garlic? Or crushing it, or slivering it? Or grating it on a microplane if the microplane is handy on the counter and that's the texture you want? All quickly done with little clean-up.
Aida@thecraftingfoodie February 18, 2019
I cook tons of Indian food (part of our ethnic heritage). I buy pre-peeled garlic from Whole Foods and chop it up in my vitamix also. Most Indian dishes call for both garlic and ginger, so i’ll throw them in the vitamix together. It’s a HUGE time saver. And cleaning the vitamix is a breeze. Just fill it 1/2 way with warm water and a few drops of soap and out the lid on and blend it until foamy. Rinse out the container and lid and it’s clean!
Thea M. February 18, 2019
First of all, my Grandmother was named Aida 🥰
Now to the point... if you just cut the end off of a fresh garlic and put it in a Tupperware and shake vigorously the garlic peels itself. It’s a lot cheaper than the jarred garlic and I think it tastes better! x
B February 16, 2019
Sigh. I was looking for a real magic trick. I started cooking at age 12 for my family. Im now 63. Ive Despised peeling garlic my whole life; even applying zen doesn’t help. Anthony B is my only consolation, and now, i add being a small bit morally correct.
Thea M. February 18, 2019
If you just cut the end off of a fresh garlic and put it in a Tupperware and shake vigorously the garlic peels itself. It’s a lot cheaper than the jarred garlic and I think it tastes better! Also, it’s a great stress reliever. I hate peeling garlic, too!
Zozo February 15, 2019
Ahaha the bit about the command not request thing... Yep!

I go one lazier these days and buy toum. It does have lemon and I think salt but I'd usually add those to whatever I'm cooking anyway. The oomph of the garlic lasts even after freezing. Only struggle with it is not eating it all with a spoon first haha.
Anna R. February 15, 2019
I make a jam of puréed garlic and ginger, gently bubbled in some coconut oil and salt, packed into a jar. Stays gorgeous for months, ready for anything. I also pack away peeled garlic cloves in oil and salt in a jar the fridge. Goes pickley after a few weeks but I end up using every clove.
Marva M. February 14, 2019
Well, umm.. they also sell (refrigerated) fresh puréed garlic and refrigerated minced garlic. It is made here in Los Angeles area and as a chef I buy and use tons of it. It is in a bit of water. Super convenient. I do not like or ever use raw garlic. I like it lightly sautéed in olive oil. I make a batch and spoon on my sourdough baguette slices before lightly oven toasting to make the BEST crostini (use slightly stale baguettes and leave out a night before consuming.. with everything), grilled veggies, etc.
Risottogirl February 14, 2019
Seriously. This is life changing?
Toni D. February 14, 2019
Ha! Susan! You make me laugh. My issue is you have to wash the dang blender and dishes are worse than chopping.
Hilary February 14, 2019
When I worked at a small bakery-café in Vermont, we’d peel a bunch of garlic then chop it in a blender with a bit of water. Then we’d store it in the fridge in water. Maybe that helped preserve the flavor and color?
judy February 14, 2019
Had a vitamin decades ago. Gave it up due to being too large and cumbersome. One of the reasons for that was getting all the grand foodstuff out from under the blades in the blender. I now have this delightful mini chopper that I pull out for chopping a few cloves of garlic-or many if needed. Quick, easy and as big or fine chop as I want. I have also found it useful for ginger as well--when I forget to freeze for grating and buy and need to use fresh. So I would not think that the vitamin would give me time back, as I loose so much food and then cleaning is a real pain. If I want some really finely minced garlic or ginger I simply use my smoothie setting on my blender and my smoothie cup--can get it to a liquid if I really want it fine. And all stores nicely in small batches in freezer cubes for future use.
Nicholas M. February 13, 2019
I don’t know if you’re aware, but if that garlic comes from China odds are it was peeled by political prisoners who work under awful conditions. “If you’re too lazy to peel garlic, you don’t deserve to use garlic” -Anthony Bourdain
Danakimball February 13, 2019
I buy those pre peeled garlic and put them in the freezer and put them blender as needed. No loss of flavor but you won't be able to crisp up garlic
Trent June 30, 2019
I saw a documentary where the prisoners in China peeled so many garlic that their fingernails wore out, they resorted to biting the peels with their teeth.
Scott H. February 13, 2019
You’re losing a lot of garlic flavor by doing that. Saves time, reduces flavor.
Smaug February 13, 2019
Seems like a strange idea to me; garlic oil gets pretty rank on exposure to air, and will indeed lose flavor fairly fast. It also doesn't seem to me that this is going to cycle very well in a blender- a mini processor might do better. If you're really an extreme garlic user I suppose it could be convenient, but I can't see this being useful for many people. Pre peeled garlic cloves are a new one on me; I suppose they'd be OK if vacuum packed, but it's not something I really want to pay to have done for me.
Thea M. February 18, 2019
I have been doing this for a while, so the tips aren’t life changing...haha.
If you place it in a sealed jar with a bit of water they stay good for about a week. I usually do a head of garlic every 9-10 days.
I don’t buy pre-peeled garlic. Seems unnecessary when you can easily peel by shaking the cloves in a container.