The Garlic Powder Hack You Need To Start Using

If you love to cook, we're willing to bet that there's one particular kitchen ally you draw upon time and again: garlic. This wonderfully flavorful allium is a bonafide pantry staple, making its way into such a wide variety of dishes that it's hard to keep count, from Italian pasta sauces and French stews to Creole gumbo and every savory meal in between.

Not only is garlic versatile in its indispensable flavor in a variety of cuisines, but also in the forms it takes on in the kitchen. Many of us are probably most accustomed to chopping up fresh garlic, but garlic is also used as garlic oil, garlic salt, black (fermented) garlic, garlic flakes, granulated garlic, and of course garlic powder (via The Spruce Eats).

Although garlic powder can have a bad reputation for being a shortcut seasoning where fresh garlic would taste better, as noted by Slate, it brings rich flavor to dry rubs, seasoned flour, and more. And as it turns out, garlic powder has the potential to be even more flavorful than you know. Read on to find out how to unlock its potential.

Activate garlic powder in water for a more flavorful result

If you've cooked with garlic powder, you're probably used to shaking it dry into a spice blend or over some popcorn. But did you know that garlic powder tastes even more well-rounded if it's mixed with water first?

Cook's Illustrated explains that garlic powder — which is just finely-ground dehydrated garlic — contains an important compound called alliinase. When producers of garlic powder dehydrate raw garlic, they're careful not to heat it over 140 degrees, in order to preserve this sensitive compound. Alliinase is responsible for producing allicin, another compound that's almost wholly responsible for the strong flavor we associate with garlic. But since alliinase goes dormant in dried garlic, it needs to be awakened with water in order for the compound to produce allicin.

Cook's Illustrated suggests that an easy way to do this is to simply mix garlic powder into "an equal amount of water" before cooking. This activates the alliinase and, in turn, the allicin. Try it the next time you cook with garlic powder, and you'll discover that it will lend a stronger, more garlicky flavor to your dishes.