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Is Store-Bought Prepped Garlic OK to Use?

By Cook's Illustrated Published September 2018

Peeled cloves, jarred minced garlic, or garlic paste in a tube: trusty timesaver or questionable flavor?

Supermarkets offer numerous options for garlic that's been prepped for cooking, including peeled cloves, jarred minced garlic, and even garlic paste in a tube. While such products are convenient, especially if you're making a recipe that calls for lots of garlic, we wondered how their flavor stacks up to that of fresh garlic that you peel and prep yourself. To find out, we used each raw in a gremolata with parsley and lemon zest and then in two cooked applications: garlic bread and spaghetti with garlic and oil. We compared each sample to a version made with garlic we'd peeled and prepped ourselves.

The upshot: Garlic paste tasted weak, and the preminced kind had off-flavors. But peeled garlic cloves worked fine. One caveat: Make sure they're fresh. The cloves should be plump and creamy white in color and shouldn't smell like garlic. If they do, they've likely been damaged during transport or preparation and will rot quickly.

Peeled

A fine option

Minced

Too sharp and sour

Paste

Weak flavor; too salty