How to Offset Too Much Garlic

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You can offset a dish with too much garlic in a few different ways depending on your preferences. Find out how to offset too much garlic with help from a published cookbook author and food expert in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Understanding Taste for Better Cooking
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Video Transcript

Hi. I'm Barb Stuckey, author of Taste, and today we're going to talk about garlic, specifically too much of it which is not necessarily a good thing. You're probably buying one of two types of garlic. The shelf stable kind that comes prechopped or minced and it's preserved in acid. And what happens during the processing of this garlic and over its shelf life is that the intensity of it will start to diminish. So you should just be aware of that when you're cooking with garlic. And you may need to adjust up when you're using this kind of garlic. So it's probably unlikely that you have this kind of a garlic problem. The other type is fresh garlic. And I'm just going to show you the difference between two heads of garlic. And you can see the profound difference in size. So when you're shopping be aware of whether you're buying something that is a normal size head of garlic or a monstrosity size head of garlic. And just be conscious of that when you're cooking. As you can see the size of the single cloves of garlic vary so widely that you really, really need to take this in to account. So I'm chopping up a single clove of garlic here. And if your recipe calls for garlic by the clove, or by the teaspoon, again you just have to be aware of the size of the garlic that you're starting with. The other good signal for how strong the garlic is going to be is the aroma that you're smelling as you're chopping it. If it's really pungent you can assume that garlic is going to be very strong. If on the other hand, as you chop and the garlic is not coming across as very strong, then you're going to want to perhaps use a little bit more. So each one of these two piles here is a single clove of garlic. And as you can see the one from the large head is twice as much as the one from the small head. So this is a good way to start being conscious of the garlic you're using, so that you don't get too much garlic flavor in your food before it happens. Because it's a lot easier to do that then to try and fix it. So if what you're getting is a bitter taste, it's likely that the garlic has been cooked too long. So you've either cooked it too long at the beginning of the process or it was burnt in the oven. But that burnt taste of garlic can be very bitter and acrid. And it's really kind of unpleasant. So if that seems to be the case, you may just want to ditch your whole batch and start over. Hopefully that's at the beginning of the cooking process and you're only throwing away garlic and oil. Remember that there's only five things that we can taste, sweet, sour, bitter, salt, and umami. So if the problem is bitter taste, then the other ways that you could address it are to use things like sweetness, a little bit of sugar or sourness. Some kind of vinegar or citrus juice or other type of vegetable juice, fruit juice, or of course salt. Our friend in the kitchen can definitely help offset some of the bitter taste. Finally let's talk about what you're experiencing if it's not a bitter or burnt garlic note. So if you're getting too much garlic aroma and you can detect that through your nose, then the aroma, the aromatics are simply too high so you need to balance it with another aroma. You could use something that's very aromatic like herbs. Chop them and use them both during the cooking process and then at the end. Or something like citrus which also has high aroma volatiles. You can squeeze some citrus on the food at the end to offset the garlic aroma. And lastly remember your spice cabinet. So if your recipe calls for spices or herbs add a little bit more of them as well. And so you're offsetting aroma with aroma. The other thing about garlic is that it has this tactile burn. And it's really hard to address that if that's the issue. You know that burn when you just have too much garlic. It almost feels like, like heat. Well, because that is a tactile sensation you're really going to have a hard time trying to fix that with aroma or a taste. So you know, sometimes the best thing to do if you got too much garlic burn is to start over. Or the way that you can fix a lot of recipes when they've gone bad, make another batch, this time without the garlic. And then when you combine that batch with the batch that has too much garlic, together they're going to be the perfect amount of garlic. You know, the other thing to remember about garlic as you're seasoning and cooking your dishes is that garlic shouldn't be the first thing you taste right in the front. It should be more in the background, a little bit of subtlety, a complexifying ingredient. You will kind of want to use garlic in the way that use salt. So I always say that you know, unless you're trying to ward off vampires, go light on the garlic. You can always add more. It's a lot easier to just add the right amount at the beginning than it is to try and take some away at the end. So think about garlic as you do other seasonings, spices or herbs, as an accent not as a thing that comes out first. I'm Barb Stuckey, author of Taste. And to learn more about how taste and aromas work, visit my website,


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