The Olive Oil Hack That Makes Chopping Fresh Garlic Easier

Adding garlic to a dish is a surefire way of elevating its taste; even rice gets a tasty burst of flavor from it. Chopping or mincing fresh garlic can be a chore, though. Aside from the labor involved, dealing with its stickiness as the pieces cling to the knife, your fingers, and the chopping board prolongs the cooking prep. What's also sticky is its pungent smell that you can't seem to wash off from your hands. However, while resorting to jarred, dried, or powdered garlic is convenient, nothing beats the fresh variety when it comes to imparting a robust flavor and aroma to food. It's also healthier overall since its nutrients and active compounds aren't diluted by preservatives.

To make the process of chopping and mincing fresh garlic more pleasant, turn to olive oil. It contains lipids, which loosen the bond that forms between the skin and chopped or crushed garlic. Known scientifically as a disulfide bridge, this bond develops once the sulfur-containing compounds in garlic, known as mercaptan, connect with the sulfur-containing compounds in the skin, which are called cysteine or methionine. In short: Garlic reacts with your skin and sticks to it. That bond is also responsible for how persistently the garlic's strong smell sticks to the skin.

To combat this, use some olive oil to coat peeled garlic cloves, as well as the blade of your knife and your fingertips. You can also rely on olive oil spray for a cleaner application and to avoid slippery spillage.

Olive oil and garlic are great partners in the kitchen

You can very well use other types of cooking oil for this garlic-prepping hack since they also contain lipids. However, olive oil is simply a great ingredient to always have on hand in the kitchen because of the nutritional benefits it is known for. It's a source of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, plus the myth about olive oil's low smoke point has already been debunked by experts. Using it for cooking is not just a healthy choice — depending on the type of olive oil you use, it can impart a herbaceous, floral, nutty, or buttery flavor to your dish.

Why not combine it with garlic to make your kitchen creations more pleasing to the palate? Creating your own bottle of garlic-infused olive oil is quick and easy. Simply cook olive oil and peeled and smashed garlic cloves in a saucepan over low heat until the garlic turns brown. Turn off the heat and let the oil cool before removing the cloves. Strain the oil as you transfer it into a bottle and add your choice of fresh herbs for extra flavor. Use it to cook your stir-fried vegetables or as salad dressing, a bread dip, and more. Remember to store your garlic-infused olive oil in the refrigerator, though, and not in the pantry to prolong its shelf life.