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Used in numerous dishes across many cultures, garlic is a kitchen staple with instantly recognizable flavor that comes in many forms. You think you may know this member of the onion family well, but we have some tips and tricks to maximize your garlic use that will open your eyes to a whole new world.

garlic 101

You control the flavor. The flavor of garlic is pretty standard, right? Wrong! Depending on how you prepare and cook your garlic, your dish could have a subtle hint of flavor or pack a pungent punch. If you’d like a minimal amount of garlic flavor, roast your garlic or use whole cloves. Slicing your garlic cloves will up the taste intensity slightly but still leave you with more moderate garlic notes. If you want no mistaking garlic’s presence in your meal, use minced garlic, garlic paste, or pureed garlic cloves.

You don’t have to smell like it. As enjoyable as garlic is, we know the smell left behind is not something everyone wants to smell like. If you’ve been cooking with garlic and your hands smell rather ripe, head over to the sink and rub your hands down with salt, lemon, baking soda, or even stainless steel. Any of these items will rid your skin of that telltale odor. If your breath is advertising that you’ve enjoyed a garlicky dish, you can try popping some extra minty gum or try swigging some milk. Chewing parsley is another way to neutralize garlic breath, too.

You can take it outside of the kitchen. Yes, the mighty garlic is a bigger jack-of-all-trades than you thought! Garlic is widely thought to have good-for-you properties that may help with a number of ailments or conditions, like the common cold and flu, cholesterol control, heart health, and even cancer. A daily dose of garlic (in either its true form or encapsulated) may give your health the boost it needs. Garlic can even be your helper in pest control! When combined with other common kitchen vegetables and spices, garlic could naturally ward off outdoor pests, keeping your plants and outdoor living spaces chemical and pest free.

You have lots of choices! Garlic comes in several forms for whatever need you may have. You can buy fresh whole bulbs of garlic, peeled garlic cloves, minced, chopped, or garlic in powder form. If you’re looking for fresh garlic, look for bulbs that don’t have markings on the skin and feel firm when you squeeze them. If you can already smell the familiar garlic odor, keep looking. Fresh garlic shouldn’t smell! If you keep your fresh garlic in a cool, dry place, it can last for several months. If your garlic starts to sprout, simply cut the clove and remove the green stalk.

We know we’re biased, but we truly think garlic is the MVP of the kitchen!