Cutting Onions And Garlic Ahead Of Time Means Less Flavor

In cooking, timing is everything. Adding lemon juice at the beginning rather than right before plating can give you a bitter meal instead of a zesty one and a few minutes away from the oven can result in a dry chicken rather than a juicy one. The same goes for prepping aromatics — chopping onions and garlic far before using them decreases their flavor.

Cutting tons of onions or mincing several cloves of garlic while simultaneously trying to cook other things can be a pain, so the desire to prepare ahead is understood. However, doing so too far in advance diminishes their strong flavors. Both onions and garlic contain compounds that start to release as soon as they're punctured. While garlic that's been minced after a few hours still tastes pungent and powerful, onions can take on a bitter flavor after only 30 minutes.

When chopped days prior, the aromatics lose their distinct tastes. This is especially true for pre-minced garlic, which is bland in comparison to garlic's sweet, earthy taste. Shortcuts are fine if the aromatics aren't at the center of the dish. Yet, for recipes like French onion soup or garlic chicken, chopping the aromatics right before is ideal.

How to get the most out of your onions and garlic

If you've ever eaten late-night pasta that was made without any aromatics, you'll know they just don't taste as good. Thankfully, crushing garlic is much easier, and also tastes more potent than cut garlic. Just cut the garlic clove into three or four slices and use the back of a knife to crush them. Alternatively, you can grate them to save time and get the same flavor as freshly minced garlic.

For onions, a little bit of prep gives you the time to work on other things while making them taste better. To subdue the flavor of raw onions, soak them in an ice bath right after cutting them. Within 15 minutes, that overpowering, eye-burning aroma will be gone, leaving behind a sweet, tangy taste. If you don't have ice, water and baking soda will do the same thing.