Time to Give It a Rest on Garlic

The preparation of garlic is a near no-brainer: separate the cloves from the head, peel the skin from the clove using fingers or a knife, and cut the clove down to the appropriate size for the recipe. But wait! Before you slide those garlic bits from your cutting board to the hot pan…did you remember to give your garlic time to rest? Garlic should be given several minutes before being thrown into the heat for cooking after being chopped- but why?


Garlic’s iconic robust flavor comes from organosulfur compounds- the most famous of which being allicin. This small, volatile compound forms when another compound, alliin, and the alliinase enzyme merge upon the rupture of garlic (think: slicing, crushing, mincing, or biting the clove). Finer cuts mean more release of the allicin compound, which means more potent garlic flavor. The formation of allicin takes time, so it’s good to wait about five to ten minutes after crushing to cook or eat garlic to get the strongest and most complex taste. Garlic’s taste will slowly mellow within a day of being cut; allicin is only stable for a few hours before it degrades into smaller sulfur compounds.

Culinary heat will also degrade allicin and dampen flavor, so adding garlic towards the end of cooking will guarantee a distinct flavor punch. To ensure garlic’s pronounced flavor in dressings or sauces, it should be minced finely and allowed to rest, as acids found in vinegar or citrus juices tend to denature the allinase enzyme needed to convert alliin to allicin.


If mild garlic flavor is the intention, whole bulbs of garlic can be roasted and then used in recipes- the mellow sweetness of roasted garlic imparts unique savory flavors to dishes like our Orecchiette with Yellow Wax Beans, Sun Gold Tomatoes, and Roasted Garlic. Hone fresh garlic's taste in our Tempeh Superfood Saute with Zucchini and and Sweet Peppers for an easy weeknight meal, or in our Black-Eyed-Pea, Green Tomato and Fresh Avocado Nachos for a fun appetizer to share with friends (Both are available for delivery next week!)– just remember to give your garlic the rest it deserves!