Pre-peeled versus fresh garlic?

In what dishes can you tell the difference between pre-peeled and fresh garlic. How about Chinese versus Californian pre-peeled garlic?

If you can tell the difference, how can you be sure?

I love garlic, and use a lot of it. I'll toss a handful of chopped cloves into almost any savory dish that involves a sauteing step. Using so much and being pressed for time, I primarily buy Californian pre-peeled garlic, and chop it right before I use it. I'm curious if you judge pre-peeled garlic to be less flavorful, and if so, can that flavor be returned by an increase in total garlic or if there are fleeting compounds that escape as soon as the garlic is peeled.

Another thing I've noticed is that I need to be careful when I make dishes where I food-process the garlic to mince it. I've ruined a curry or two by using food-processed fresh turmeric, fresh peppers, and pre-peeled garlic that smelled fine but had probably spent a week in the fridge. In the finished dish, the garlic contributed a pretty nasty "raw vegetal" taste. Similarly, Christy once food-processed and sauteed some onions and older pre-peeled garlic only to have the whole mixture turn blue and taste horrible.

The discoloration is due to pigments that form between sulfur compounds in garlic and amino acids. When the garlic tissue is disrupted, as happens in processing, an enzyme is liberated and reacts with it to form thiosulfinates compounds that then react with the natural amino acids in the garlic to form blue pigments. The age of garlic determines how much isoalliin there is in the first place, and the nature of the processing determines how much enzyme is liberated.

The blue color apparently shouldn't harm the taste, so it would be neat to develop a dish that naturally turned blue using this reaction while still tasting great.

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Doctor What9 years ago
But peeling is fun! SMACK! Then just lift away.
umm at our house we store our garlic in a clay pot in the pantry Im not sure if that helps with freshess or not, just mentioning.
westfw9 years ago
Garlic tends to have a lot of "different" flavors depending on how you cook it. Raw garlic is much different than roasted garlic (as in roasted whole heads for smearing on bread, or in "chicken with 40 cloves of garlic.) I haven't actually used the pre-peeled garlic; I haven't felt like I could use that much before it went bad. But I'm a big fan of dried powdered garlic (yet another sort of flavor, but it tends to work better on grilled or broiled meats.) (mind you, I had to overcome some prejudices about the importance of "fresh" in order to admit my fondness for dried garlic...) I've never had the "blue garlic" problem, but I assure you that a head of garlic that has sit too long in the garlic keeper will no longer smell good!
ewilhelm (author)  westfw9 years ago
Garlic is definitely a complicated spice. From Cook's Illustrated July 2008:

It turns out that the compound that gives garlic its potent taste, allicin, does not form until the cloves are chopped. But allicin is fleeting. If the chopped garlic is stored, even in the freezer, the allicin will lose strength. If you want garlic at its maximum potency, you should wait until the last minute to chop it.

And, from September 2000:

After some research, we discovered that what is behind these flavor differences is allicin, an enzyme that is released when garlic is cut. The ntensity of garlic flavor in your dish depends on how finely you have chopped, minced, or pureed the garlic. If you want a bold garlic flavor, you should puree or mince your garlic, but if you want a more subtle essence, try slivering the clove. If you’re not a true fan of garlic’s bold flavors, you may want to roast or toast your garlic--the heat breaks down the allicin.

So when the sweetness of roasted garlic is a result of the allicin being destroyed, leaving you to taste the remaining flavors. I wonder what happens when you dry garlic? What's left behind then?
westfw ewilhelm9 years ago
Huh. In a way, I dislike this sort of "wishy-washy science." How exactly does one define "measurable" quantities like "potency" and "boldness." I wonder if people even agree on what constitutes "garlic flavor" ? OTOH, perhaps it's better than no science at all. I think dried garlic is relatively close to roasted garlic; it lacks the sharpness of freshly chopped garlic almost entirely, but it's not quite as smokey/mellow as the long oven-roasted garlic...
Goodhart9 years ago
I haven't personally had the opportunity to try the different garlics you mention, but I always prefer fresh (depending on the dish) either coarsely chopped or mashed as Caitlinsdad wrote. I love garlic too, but don't get to use it as much as I like.
You have a PM from me.
Ok, it arrived ;-) and is replied to
Still no snail PM yet...I guess you sorted out the meaning to the other topic.
I was going to ******** out what I thought was holding up that pm when you sent it, so the return wouldn't take so long.....and I forgot .... :-)
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