Jun 19, 2019

First off, I should say that I am a fan of life hacks. Anything that can make daily life easier is always welcome in my arsenal of life skills.

But like any other failed life hack (or anything on the Internet really), I always take these things with a grain of salt. So imagine my delight upon finding out from a co-worker that someone has finally spilled the tea on how to easily peel off garlic cloves over lunch. Boy, was I excited.

As someone who likes to cook, I take pleasure in peeling vegetables and cutting them up into uniform shapes and sizes, but some days I just don’t have the time and patience to deal with, say an onion bulb, or a malfunctioning garlic press. So I always resort to my tried and tested ways like holding my breath while cutting up onions and smashing garlic cloves under the knife, which both work every time.

So what was this supposed garlic hack my co-worker was telling me about?

It was a tweet by user Valentina Lord (@VPestilenZ), a self-proclaimed Korean food lover (and a 3D artist, according to her bio), where she stabs each clove still attached to the head with a paring knife and voila! the skinless garlic pops out in an instant.

I was like, ‘ooh okay. I can get in on this.’ But the skeptic in me tells me that this ain’t the case when I do it. Call it amateur homecook instincts or whatever you want. But my years of helping my grandma peel garlic at dawn for her goto business has taught me that this does not work. At least not every time.

If you know your garlic well, you will know that fresh garlic is hard AF to peel without using a press or smashing them. It’s because the skin is still intact. And it’s not just the skin, I tell you, there’s also the translucent stubborn sublayer that stays on if you know what I mean.

Now, I don’t come here to discredit a fellow Korean foodie (yes, I am that).
READ: The one Korean condiment you should have in your pantry

But I’m just saying Valentina Lord (if that is her real name) may have forgotten to mention that she was using older and much dryer garlic.

Here’s the thing. Older garlic (not necessarily a bad thing as this crop can actually last a long time if stored properly) is way easier to peel because its skin tends to come off quickly presumably because it has less moisture content (again that’s still fine and totally usable).

Okay. Facts are facts. But if you still don’t believe me, then take it from various other netizens’ testimonies and the New York Times Cooking Instagram account (I know, but move on, Martha! It’s been weeks since that Aperol debacle).


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Heartbroken but also not surprised that yesterday’s viral garlic hack from Twitter doesn’t really work.

A post shared by NYT Cooking (@nytcooking) on

The team behind the account posted a video on Instagram of them trying to peel onions using Valentina Lord(?)’s hack. And as expected, it didn’t work. The garlic flesh just ended up splitting into two but still attached to the head with skin on.

Some netizens are still skeptical, though (good). Like user @randreani365 who said, “[@VPestilenZ was] pushing up towards the root end, not simply inserting and pulling back. Very different methods.”

While user @felagirl who shares the same sentiments as I do, argued, “I’m thinking the age of the garlic makes all the difference. It won’t work on fresh garlic, but maybe will work on cured (drier) garlic.”

If you are undecided on the issue, you can try doing it on your own and share with us the results, while also disclosing the condition of the garlic you are using.

And while we’re on the topic of garlic, there are tons of surplus local garlic varieties that need saving and farmers that can use your help.

READ: 70 tons of garlic will be disposed by farmers due to lack of buyers—but we can prevent that


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Header photo courtesy of Michele Blackwell on Unsplash

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TAGS: garlic life hack life hack busted nyt cooking