By Christy, Contributing Writer
It’s just a little gadget, but at The Simple Home it’s indispensable. It has traveled the country with us. It helps keeps us healthy during flu season and adds a bit of zip to the dullest meal. Others have seen our devotion to the little gadget, and bought the same model themselves. What is this little wonder gadget?
The humble garlic press.
I am willing to take a bold stand and say that the garlic press is an essential tool in the modern kitchen, particularly if you strive to cook from scratch. People, you’ve gotta have one! And you’ve gotta have a good one.
But that’s just my opinion. Here are some real questions from real readers that will help you decide whether a garlic press will benefit you:
What’s so great about garlic?
Garlic is a super food. It should really have a cape and red undies, because it is that powerful. It is an immune-building, cancer-preventing, inflammation-reducing, heart-helping, cholesterol-leveling, bacteria-fighting wonder, and that’s just the beginning. You don’t want to hear me go all sciencey on you, so check out this† or this†or any other medical journal for more information.
What do you do with pressed garlic in your kitchen?
Perhaps you should be asking what I don’t do. With my press, I quickly throw garlic into stir fries, eggs, soups, meat dishes, casseroles, beans, pasta sauces, crockpot concoctions, veggies, pretty much everything cooked. I add it to homemade salad dressing, salsa, and natural cough and cold remedies. It finds its way onto homemade pizza, cheesy biscuits, and my humble garlic butter. Sometimes I’ll saute onions and mushrooms, and toss in garlic for a simple lunch that makes my immune system happy. The only place I have yet to use garlic is dessert, but I’m open to the possibilities.
Why do I need a garlic press to do all those things? Can’t I just mince the garlic with a knife.
Of course you can. But why would you do that when a garlic press could do the same job using a fraction of the time and effort, with no sticky, garlicky fingers? Cooking from scratch is time-consuming, so why not use a tool to simplify and expedite the process!
Can’t I just use jarred minced garlic?
Of course you can. Be aware, however, that most manufacturers include additives with the jarred minced garlic to prevent botulism. Also, the flavor of the freshly pressed garlic is stronger, as are some of the health benefits. Some even say the consistency differs between the two. Plus you have to measure pre-minced garlic.†Whole garlic is pre-measured in nifty little cloves straight from the Maker! Jarred garlic still retains some of the health and flavor benefits, so do what works best for you.
Well, then, can’t I just use garlic powder?
You’re not really paying attention, are you? Do whatever you want and whatever is easiest, but if you want the flavor and health benefits of fresh garlic, and you want to know for sure there are no additives in your garlic, then you should use fresh garlic. Powdered still has health benefits, though, so go for it if it makes your life easier.
So…what do you use?
I use a garlic press and fresh garlic most of the time for adding to stews, stir-fried, soups, crockpot dishes, veggies, and other mixed dishes. I use garlic powder when I want the powdered consistency, like when I make my own spice blends, such as my favorite all-purpose chicken (and fish) seasoning and Erin’s garlic salt. I have never, ever purchased pre-minced or pre-peeled garlic, because I don’t need to, because I have a garlic press…in case you weren’t wearing your listening ears.
Doesn’t fresh garlic give you garlic breath?
Yes, yes, it does. It’s a great way to find out who your real friends are.
Aren’t garlic presses a pain to clean?
Not really if you do it right away. I simple swipe out the remnants immediately after each use and rinse it off if necessary. Sometimes I wash it with everything else, and in my old life I would toss it in the dishwasher once in a while. But you know what? Diapers are a pain to change, and that hasn’t kept me from having seven babies, so maybe I’m not the person to ask.
How do I know which press to buy?
Great question! Here are a few tips about purchasing a garlic press:
1–Don’t skimp. The first press we had snapped in half. Seriously? Seriously. In half, people! Of course, that could have been because of my hubby’s super strength. Do not skimp! You’ve been warned.
2–Buy a press that does not require that the garlic is first peeled. You can pop the unpeeled clove in the press, apply a little oomph, and there you have it, freshly pressed garlic. Peeling garlic is tedious. Let’s face it, if it’s a pain in the ol’ sitter, you’re not going to be using your press much.
3–Look for a large reservoir with a well-fitting plunger†to press more garlic at once and leave little behind.
4–Don’t worry much about whether the press you like has a little cleaning doojab†when making your purchase decision. I used mine the first couple of months, but after that I just swiped a finger in the press to dig out the skins. Nothing to it. Some people swear by the cleaners, so…your call, really.
5–Read reviews to find a press that does not require more hand strength than you have.
What brand of garlic press do you use, and do you recommend it?
I have been using a Pampered Chef garlic press for 15 years. It has never done me wrong. My kids are fighting over who gets it willed to them. Fortunately, Pampered Chef made more than one. My old friend has handled the cooking needs of this family with panache and shows no sign of stopping. It’s totally and completely worth its drawer space! People that visit me and use my press go home and buy their own. True story.
I do not work for Pampered Chef.†I simply love my garlic press and use it almost daily. It is one of the few kitchen tools that is indispensable enough to escape our recent household purge and to travel the country with us. Garlic press, I love you!
Amazon has masses of garlic presses. It’s like a garlic press convention. Read the reviews to find out which require more hand strength, which will snap in half, which leave behind too much garlic, which require peeling, and similar issues. If you’re interested in the Pampered Chef garlic press, contact your consultant.
So, what do you think? Do you have a press? If not, are you thinking of running out right now and buying one? And the most burning question of all: do you have any dessert recipes that call for garlic?
Christy Bagasao writes with understanding and humor about simplifying life at The Simple Homemaker. Once weighed down by unrealistic expectations, life’s overwhelming demands, and the burden of clutter, Christy has learned to make life less complicated and find joy in the simple things. She and her contemporary Christian musician husband, Stephen Bautista, “roadschool” their 7 children, ages 1 to 16, on the open road as they tour the country full-time in a travel trailer for the music mission.
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Top image by Richly Rooted