Should You Squeeze Roasted Garlic?

From smearing on toast to mixing into pasta and adding to sauces, the uses of roasted garlic are innumerable. Moreover, roasting this aromatic ingredient creates a culinary alchemy that magically transforms the pungent and sometimes sharp raw cloves into a mellow, buttery, almost sweet treat. The process involves drizzling olive oil over the garlic heads, wrapping them in foil, and roasting until the cloves turn golden and soft. Once removed from the oven, the cloves beckon with their tender texture and inviting aroma. Herein lies the crux of the matter: to squeeze or not to squeeze.

The right decision in this small dilemma lies in understanding the reasons for squeezing the garlic in the first place. Firstly, since the cloves usually soften considerably after roasting, squeezing the garlic head makes extracting these tender insides much easier and faster. And secondly, since most uses of roasted garlic require a velvety paste that spreads effortlessly on bread or melds seamlessly into sauces and soups, then as the cloves yield under pressure, they conveniently result in a pureed consistency that's easily added to a myriad of recipes.

How to squeeze garlic after roasting

For easy squeezing of the garlicky goodness, you'll need to roast your garlic heads whole with the peels still intact. Cut the bulbs into two halves cross-sectionally where the bulb is widest (you can do this before or after roasting). Once cooked, wait until they've cooled, pick one half of the garlic head, and hold it with both hands between your thumb and fingertips, with the cut surface facing away from you. Now apply pressure with all your fingers and squeeze the cloves out through the cut end. Repeat the same with the rest of the halved garlic heads.

If you prefer not to squeeze your garlic, there are two alternatives. First, you can use a tiny sharp knife to slit the clove skins, then use a fork to coax out the garlic cloves one at a time or pull them out using your fingers. Once you've removed all the flesh, you can proceed to mash it with the fork and incorporate the puree into your desired dish. The second method requires you to first separate the cloves and peel them before roasting. Once cooked, you can directly mash the peeled cloves into a paste.

Ultimately, deciding to squeeze or not to squeeze roasted garlic is a matter of personal preference. So, the next time you need to prepare roasted garlic, remember that the choice is yours to make, and the results, either way, are bound to be nothing short of deliciously aromatic.