When it comes to cooking and working marvels in the kitchen, I can pour a bowl of cereal with the best of them. Everything that chefs do surprises me. So I was accordingly amazed by this video from Saveur magazine, which I watched at Open Culture thanks to many comments on Twitter. It shows how to peel an entire head of garlic in just 10 seconds.
The short version is that vigorously shaking a crushed head of garlic inside two metal bowls will within seconds separate the cloves cleanly from the dried peel around them. The question is, why?
Of course, the dry fibrous peel is relatively brittle, so all the agitation inside the shaking bowls helps to break it open along the seams. The clove itself is slightly slippery, so that helps it to slip out of the broken peel.
But I thought something more might be going on, so I did an experiment. I put a single unpeeled clove into the metal bowls, shook them like crazy… and nothing happened. A few flakes of peel had broken away but the clove was still enclosed. When I repeated the trick with two cloves in the bowls, however, it worked as advertised. Both cloves were very neatly separated from their peels.
My best guess is that more than one unpeeled clove is necessary because friction and the mutual abrasion of the cloves as they bounce around inside the bowls is crucial. It’s working on the same principle as a rock tumbler, in which the stones rub one another to smoothness. The trick polishes the peel away from the garlic.
That’s must my guess, however. Anyone have a different explanation, or a different experience in making the trick work?