Ask a cook about the best way to peel garlic, and you’ll get a different answer every time. The only thing that’s unanimous is that it’s a nuisance. We thought we tried every timesaving hack in the book (rolling it in our palms, crushing it lightly with a knife, throwing it on the cutting board in defeat) until we heard about the “boiling water method.”
It appeared that the trend began with Great British Bake-Off winner Nadiya Hussain’s new Netflix series, Nadiya’s Time to Eat. In the first episode, she peels two whole heads of garlic in about a minute by soaking the cloves in a bowl of boiling water. But after a little Internet research, we found that it’s not actually a new trick; it exists on food forums dating back to 2012, because the search for an easy way to peel garlic is eternal. We were skeptical. We had to try this out at home.
We turned on the kettle, broke a few cloves of garlic off from our stash and peeled away the thin, papery shell. We plopped them into a small bowl and watched the water come to a boil. (Kidding, kind of.) When it was finally hot enough, we poured it over the cloves to cover them completely, set a timer for one minute and waited. When it was time to peel, we drained the water, burned our fingers and went to work. The peels released from the garlic fairly easily, but the cloves were still hot.
The final verdict? The trick works, sure. But it definitely took more time to bring water to a boil that it would to just peel the cloves by hand, and we were too impatient to wait for them to cool down. The method might come in hand for a large quantity of garlic (like Hussain’s two whole heads), but for a few cloves, it’s not notably timesaving.