The Food and Wine Hedonist

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The Garlic Chronicles – How to Peel a Ton of Garlic Super Quick. And a Toum Failure.

As I mentioned in my pain-in-the-butt beef brisket post, I have a great way to peel a lot of garlic en masse that’s quick and easy.  I really wish I used it with the brisket because their method just didn’t work.  They said to drop the cloves in boiling water for 30 seconds, then sit back in total amazement as the peels just miraculously lift away.  In reality, I still had to peel them with my fingers and it was just as difficult to peel it off then if it was dry.  And I’m also wondering whether that exposure to hot water may have taken away some of the flavor of the garlic.

So what’s my method?

First, you need to separate the cloves. All that’s needed there is to take the head of garlic and press down on it with the palm of your hand.  Easy enough, right?  (You better agree, because I didn’t take a picture of me doing it.)

Next, take the garlic cloves and put them in a large metal bowl.  Take another metal bowl of roughly the same size and place it upside down over the first.  Then grab the edges of it and shake the living daylights out of it.

You don’t need guns like these to shake the bowls… But they help.


The garlic cloves bump around into each other and the sides of the bowls  creating friction which peels the garlic.  You can peel a whole head of garlic in less than a minute.

garlic peeled

 garlic recipe

Once you get it all peeled, you can use it to make Toum.

Even though my cousin married into a family of Palestinians a long time ago, I’d never had toum until recently.  For those of you unfamiliar with it, it’s a white, fluffy paste that’s a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine.  It’s used as a sauce for kebobs, chicken, or as a dip for plain ol’ pita bread.  It’s delicious.  Here’s a beautiful picture of what it’s supposed to look like.

toum maureenaboodcom

middle east cuisine

It’s a pretty simple recipe – throw garlic, oil, salt, and a little lemon juice in a blender or food processor and mix until fluffy.  Yeah, right.  Apparently there are a 100 ways to mess it up.  The recipe I used mentioned that any bit of water in the measuring cup, blender, or on the spatula will cause the sauce to break.  So can the sequence of adding ingredients.  Same with too much oil.  I’m guessing farting in the kitchen will do it too.  I was probably guilty of all of the above.

It became grainy and I couldn’t fix it.

It became grainy and I couldn’t fix it.


But when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade, grate the lemon peel, and section some of the lemon off to squeeze on a piece of fish.  Basically, don’t waste the damn lemon.

I put a lot of energy into that toum.  It wasn’t just shaking the bowls and peeling the garlic, I – heaven forbid – got the immersion blender dirty.   Yeah, I was heck-bent on salvaging the sauce.  I’ll share some of those other uses in my next post.

Meanwhile, here’s the recipe I used from Rose Water & Orange Blossoms.

– 1 cup very fresh garlic cloves, peeled

– 2 teaspoons salt

– ½ cup lemon juice

– 4 cups neutral oil (like canola or grapeseed)

1. Cut the garlic cloves in half lengthwise and remove the green center sprout. Even if the sprout is barely there or mostly white, remove it, as it causes a bitter flavor.

split garlic

2. Place the garlic and salt in the bowl of the food processor and pulse until it is finely minced, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl between pulses.

3. In a very thin, slow stream, pour about ½ cup of oil into the running processor with the garlic. Then add slowly add two teaspoons of lemon juice while the processor is running. Turn off the processor and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue in this manner, alternating oil and lemon juice in slow, steady streams and stopping occasionally to scrape down the bowl. The mixture will turn fluffy and white.

4. Scrape into a bowl or container with an airtight lid, but don’t put the lid on yet. Cover the toum with a paper towel and refrigerate for about 12 hours, chilling the sauce completely and removing some of the moisture which would cause the toum to separate if covered immediately with the airtight lid. Then cover with the airtight lid and refrigerate for up to one month.

5. If your toum tastes ‘hot’ from the garlic, let it rest for a few days in the refrigerator, which will soften the flavor. Makes 4 cups of toum.

Have you ever made toum?  What did I do wrong?

how to peel garlic

cooking technique

About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

21 comments on “The Garlic Chronicles – How to Peel a Ton of Garlic Super Quick. And a Toum Failure.

  1. The Cosy Kitchen
    May 28, 2013

    Cool post! Very useful!

  2. the drunken cyclist
    May 28, 2013

    I saw this somewhere before and I have been waiting until I found a recipe that would require that much garlic to try it!

  3. rachelocal
    May 28, 2013

    I can’t imagine that THAT recipe turns into the light and fluffy stuff in the photos. I have no idea what you did wrong, but if you figure it out, please post here. Toum looks delicious!

  4. Maureen Abood
    May 28, 2013

    Hi there–I love your garlic-peeling method and will try it for my next batch of toum! Thanks for trying my recipe from my blog, Rose Water & Orange Blossoms at I think we’ve all had our share of failed toum attempts…I think, as with any aoli, that practice makes perfect!

  5. I. Love. Toum. (and never previously knew there was a different name than “garlic crack dip”)

  6. Great way to peel a LOT of garlic! As for Toum, I don’t recall ever eating it, but knowing what I know about baking and making fluffy egg whites, ganache, etc…. yeah, I couldn’t tell you what you did wrong, but I’ve attempted homemade mayo and well… that was a fail.

  7. Pingback: The Garlic Chronicles: Living With My Mistake | The Food and Wine Hedonist

  8. a2sicilian
    May 30, 2013

    Interesting. There is no emulsifying agent in that recipe (mustard, egg, etc.). Also, I’ve never seen garlic, oil and lemon whip into anything but lemon vinaigrette :). I know when making a souffle, it won’t fluff up unless the bowl is spotlessly clean (not a speck of oil, etc.), but that seems unrelated. It’s a mystery!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      May 30, 2013

      It actually did get fluffy w half the oil in, but I kept going. So it prob was too much oil.

    • mje1066
      July 5, 2015

      Garlic contains emulsifiers- it’s closely related to mustard, you know.

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    September 24, 2013

    I read this twice I enjoyed so much! I kept laughing at the way you wrote everything. Great stuff.

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This entry was posted on May 28, 2013 by in Cooking and tagged , , , .
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