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How do I choose better garlic bulbs at the grocery store?

I know to look for tight, firm skins with no cracks, but lately I've ended up with garlic bulbs with itty bitty cloves disguised as normal sized cloves... that's the best way I can think to describe it! They are super annoying to peel and dice so I end up just tossing most of it. Any suggestions for avoiding these??

asked by Laura M about 2 years ago
7 answers 1309 views
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Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added about 2 years ago

I look for nice, big, fat cloves under the skin on the outside of the bulb. There are often smaller/smaller ones on the interior. I save the really small ones, which I agree are also annoying and a waste of time to peel, and toss them into the next pot of stock.

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Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added about 2 years ago

It seems like this time of year, the bulbs pull a fast one and what looks like fat cloves are really a bunch of little ones. I have found if I remove the outer peel..just that first layer, I can see the cloves better. I don't mind the silly little ones in the middle, but I want the outer cloves to be big and fat.

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Nancy is a trusted home cook.

added about 2 years ago

sometimes it's the produce buyers and/or store policy of what grade of garlic they buy. see if there's a difference in quality in garlic at the places you shop and buy accordingly.

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added about 2 years ago

I have better luck with California garlic than Chinese garlic and I buy mine from the international stores. I have also grown my own before and THAT IS SO WORTH IT!! Very easy to grow and no pests. I just don't have a yard now, so I can't do it. Right now is not the right season for the awesome garlic. If you can find them, you should be able to get hard neck garlic at the farmer's market in the summer/early fall, depending on where you live. The whole head is the nice good-sized cloves we like. No wimpy cloves. They are so much tastier than any of the ones from the grocery stores which are predominantly soft necks because they can be grown year-round. I LOVE garlic!

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Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added about 2 years ago

Be sure there are no green sprouts growing out of any cloves, or dark brown spots.

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added about 2 years ago

The quality of garlic at my local stores is terrible, like you I often end up with itty bitty cloves that are a total nuisance. I feel like it wasn't always this way, maybe only in the past couple years? This is definitely the perfect time for those "slap n' chop" devices sold by Pampered Chef and the like; I was given one years ago but never used it until I broke down after losing my patience mincing tiny cloves. Now I pull it out every time. You still have to peel the cloves, but the chopping part becomes easy peasy.

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Trena Heinrich

Trena is a trusted source on general cooking.

added about 2 years ago

Like all the other posters who've commented so far, I prefer large cloves of garlic. Like you've stated, it's difficult to tell what you're getting at the grocery. If possible you can develop a relationship with the produce workers at the grocery. I've found them to be invaluable with providing me with the freshest ingredients they have on hand as well as their expertise on the types of produce they're selling. Since your question had to do with buying in the grocery store that's my best answer, however if at all possible, I know it's not in certain parts of the country, buy directly from a farmer.

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