Food Hacks: 5 Secrets to Peeling Garlic, Includes Latest Viral Garlic Skinning Trick

Food Hacks: 5 Secrets to Peeling Garlic

There’s no way around it. You have to peel that garlic before you can throw it in the wok. Otherwise that special aromatic flavour will not be released into the food and that will defeat the purpose of using garlic in the first place.

Besides, who likes eating garlic with the skin on?

But for anyone who has spent any time in the kitchen dealing with skinning or de-skinning garlic, you know how frustrating and time consuming the task can be.

And for busy mums…Uh Uh.

Let’s not forget also how garlic leaves a stink on your hands after you’ve handled them. You don’t want to be walking into a board meeting the next morning reeking of the root bulb.

Ah, the life of mother.

How to Rid Garlic Smell from your Hands

So, first things first ─ Here’s how to get rid of the smell after you’re done peeling the garlic.

Simply rub your hands on a stainless steel spoon or other stainless steel utensil, preferably under a running tap and that smell should leave no traces. That potent odour left on your hands comes from sulfur molecules in the garlic.

But getting back to the topic of peeling garlic, here are five quick and easy ways you can skin that bulb, including one that’s gone crazy viral on Twitter recently, stirring food feuds among netizens who are combating online to show who can do it better and faster.


Knife pulls out garlic bulb. Food Hacks: 5 Secrets to Peeling Garlic
Can you pluck out a garlic clove so easily? (Image Credit: twitter @VPestilenZ, Thrillist)

Stab ’em, Shake ‘em, Smash ‘em, Drown ‘em, Nuke ’em

5 Ways to Skin Garlic Alive

1. Stab that Garlic

Here is the latest hack as promised. It circulated Twitter 23.7 million times when it exploded online on June 17 and got the whole world transfixed at how effortlessly and quickly one can pluck out a perfectly skinned (or de-skinned) garlic clove.

You just turn the garlic bulb upside down so that the bottom of the bulb faces up. Insert a sharp knife at a perpendicular angle into the bottom left of the clove. Turn the knife and viola!  Out pops a clean clove, ready for you to pop into the pot.

Take a look at how easy it all looks. It got everybody trying the trick at home like crazy ─ including Yours Truly.

But does the trick really work? Is it as simple as it seems?

To the great disappointment of netizens, they report that all is not as it appears, as YouTube channel Glen & Friends Cooking will tell you.  The original twitter video above omits a vital first step to pull off this trick successfully. Luckily, Chef Glen figured it out and released his own video explaining how to do the trick correctly.

He said he spent the better part of the day going through a mountain of garlic trying to get the hack to work after seeing it online. But only when someone else walked into the kitchen and told him the secret magic trick did he finally figure it out.

Watch the Secret Revealed Here

Watch the video to the end to fully understand how to do it.

Keep, Keep Bleedin’

The downside to this trick is that you will need to use a dangerous and very sharp small paring knife to perform these dexterous stabbing manouvres.  As Chef Glen points out: “If you’re not comfortable using a sharp knife, you should steer clear of trying this hack altogether.”

Yours Truly would have to agree. After trying the trick and struggling to split a hard resistant bulb with the sharp tip of the knife pointed upwards, a song came to mind:

Uh huh. This song came to mind.

Please don’t stab yourself in the eye or slice your fingers off trying to perform this trick. There are safer options as you’ll see below. Besides, as Chef Glen says ─ the trick doesn’t necessarily always remove all of the skin cleanly anyway.  You will have to do some work before and after and at the end of the day, you’ll actually take longer and expend more effort trying to pluck out garlic this way.

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2. Shake that Garlic

Dropping garlic into a metal mixing bowl. Food Hacks: 5 Secrets to Peeling Garlic
After dropping the garlic into a metal mixing bowl, place another bowl of the same size on top to close it. Then holding the bowls together tightly, shake it like your life depended on it. You will be rewarded by garlic cloves that have magically peeled themselves. (Image Credit:

This method does not require the use of any sharp instruments ─ thank goodness. It has been used by chefs all over the world and now it is here for you. You can use metal containers like two steel mixing bowls, or a glass jar with a lid. Plastic is not recommended as the smell will be retained in the plastic container rendering them forever smelly after that.

This method is perfect if you’re peeling garlic en masse, like if you’re cooking for an army, for example. And be aware that if you’re using metal containers, you’d be causing  a holy racket in the kitchen when you shake away.

But here’s how you do it anyway.

  • Set the bulb against the counter, with the tip of the shoot facing up. Make sure the counter is firm and in good condition.
  • Strike the bulb with the heel of your palm – this will break off all of the bulbs easily.
  • Place the bulbs inside a container with a lid. It can be metal, ceramic or glass. Close it tightly.
  • Now shake the container vigorously until you go giddy or for 15 seconds, whichever comes first.
  • Open the container and you’ll see fully or partially peeled cloves.

View How it is Done

3. Smash that Garlic (with a Knife)

Knife placed flat on a clove of garlic. Food Hacks: 5 Secrets to Peeling Garlic
Place a knife flat on top of the garlic clove and press or smash down with your palm. (Image Credit:
  • After separating the cloves, strike the bulb with the heel of your palm, put a clove on the surface of a chopping board. Hold a flat knife over it.
  • Quickly smash the surface of the knife with your palm or fist. No need to apply too much force: just do it swiftly and carefully. Don’t cut yourself.
  • Then remove the rest of the peel by hand.

Chinese cooks at local Dai Chow stalls use the Chinese style meat cleaver to do the job. They just whack the garlic lightly with the heavy chopping knife and the clove gets nicely squished and de-skinned, ready for Mach-speed mincing and dicing before landing in the wok to flavour up a dish. Requires kung fu to do this though. Don’t try it at home.

4. Drown that Garlic

Water pouring on garlic in a bowl. Food Hacks: 5 Secrets to Peeling Garlic

  • Soak the cloves in cold water for 10-15 minutes. Make sure that garlic cloves are covered fully under the water.
  • Remove the cloves from water and peel off the skin. The skin should be loose and easily removed by hand now.
  • Pinch off the loose skin. You can place the peeled cloves in a container for use later on
  • If you’re frying straight away, remember to dab those cloves dry on a paper towel before cutting and putting them in hot oil. You don’t want to be scalded in the face with splatters from the wok.

5. Nuke that Garlic

Garlic on a microwave plate. Food Hacks: 5 Secrets to Peeling Garlic
Nuke that garlic in the microwave for 20 seconds and the skin will slide right off. (Image Credit: Chowhound)

Don’t worry, you won’t have to get to a nuclear reactor plant to do this ─ we’re talking about microwaving the garlic.

  • Cut the head off a whole garlic bulb.
  • Put the garlic bulb in the microwave safe plate or a bowl.
  • Set the microwave on High and microwave the bulb for about 15 to 20 seconds.
  • Be careful when touching the garlic after you take it out as it might be hot.
  • Then, just pull the outer skin with a little squeeze, and you will notice that the clean garlic cloves will slide right out.
  • Just give it a little squeeze and you are done. Remove those skins from off the counter top.

The downside of this method is that your garlic is now half-cooked. It kind of takes the edge off the sharpness of raw, fresh garlic. After all, the best part of this wonderful root vegetable lies in its power to knock you out with its pong. But then again, two out of three ain’t bad as they say. What do you think?

For more kitchen hacks for busy mothers, go to

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