Garlic is a strong flavor, about which people have correspondingly strong opinions. Or at least that’s what I learned on Monday morning when a heated debate erupted among the Jezebel staff on the merits of garlic powder versus fresh garlic.
It all started innocently enough, with a tweet about peeling garlic:
In response to the tweet, Jezebel culture editor Clover Hope wrote that the garlic hack—knifing the individual cloves out of their skins—was “blowing” her “mind.” Clover is usually right—but not this time.
Knifing garlic is not a timesaver on the whole. It just makes the long, messy process of using fresh garlic maybe 9 percent less time-consuming and messy. When I responded with my own hack—using garlic powder instead of fresh garlic—my colleagues were overwhelmingly opposed. The site was fractured. On one side of the divide was me, a lazy cook who values having the time to live life to the fullest. On the other side, everyone else (all of whom were wrong, sadly):
Wading into the fight, senior writer Kelly Faircloth then shared her own garlic hack: jarred and pre-chopped garlic. I can respect this move, but if you’re going to admit (correctly) that chopping garlic is a fucking pain anyway, why not just follow that idea to its logical conclusion: garlic powder. (There is only one dish that truly requires fresh chopped garlic, and it is the smashed cucumber with garlic dish that my mom taught me how to make.)
Garlic powder is much maligned by fresh garlic enthusiasts, but why? It has a nice sharp garlic flavor, it doesn’t require first peeling the garlic and then chopping it and then cleaning everything (garlic skin gets everywhere am I right?), and it’s ideal for dishes that require a consistent garlic flavor throughout.
Don’t believe me? Perhaps you will trust the writers of Bon Appétit, who describe garlic powder as “a feat of science” that they “wouldn’t be caught without.” “We freaking love the stuff,” the publication declared in an article extolling the many virtues of garlic powder. Still, they don’t go as far to suggest replacing fresh garlic with the powdered version in all instances, which is what I—with the one exception I listed above—recommend.
You know what else I like about garlic powder? It lasts a long fucking time! While garlic powder does expire, you can get away with using it even after it has lost some of its potency, unlike fresh garlic, which just withers away until it is a husk of its former self with lots of weird green things growing out of it. Ask yourself, how much garlic have you thrown away over the course of your lifetime?
Give yourself the gift of ease and flavor—buy garlic powder.