Garlic is a staple ingredient for cooking within so many cuisines. It’s a simple vegetable that packs a great deal of flavor. But it isn’t just a simple item in from the produce department. A quick peruse through any spice cabinet allows you to find a few different garlic-based spices. I recently came across several in my pantry and realized that I had no idea what makes them different. Granulated, powder, and salt, how are they different?
Want to learn what type you should use, and in what form? What about garlic substitutes?
Let’s go to The Chalkboard.
Don’t have time? Here’s The Chalkboard Version.
- The powder and granulated versions are both comprised of dehydrated cloves.
- Garlic powder has a consistency that is comparable to the flour, and granulated is like cornmeal.
- You can substitute granulated for powder and vice versa.
- Garlic salt is three parts salt to one part powder.
Jump Ahead To
What Is Garlic?
The official name is allium sativum, it is a perennial plant of the amaryllis family grown for its flavourful bulbs. The plant is native to Asia and grows wild in Italy and southern France. It has an aroma similar to onions, but unline like onions, most people do not eat it in a raw form.
Thin papery skin covers the cloves that comprise the bulb. One bulb can yield up to 30 cloves depending on the variety.
Health Benefits Of Garlic
The cloves are filled with Vitamins A, C, phosphorus, and potassium. These benefits come from the organic sulfur compound allicin.
The German Commission E, similar to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, recommends eating 4 grams daily – the size of one large clove – to reduce your risk of heart disease.
You’ll get the most benefit from raw garlic. But if you choose to cook it, don’t heat it above 140°F. Higher temperatures kill the allicin, so add it to your recipes near the end of cooking. When prepping, let it sit after you mince, crush or chop it. The enzymes from the allicin need a few minutes to start working.
Varieties Of Garlic
There are three types of garlic that you are likely to buy—Hardneck, elephant, and softneck. Technically elephant is a leek, but the taste and look are so similar that it often gets lumped into the family.
This variety gets its name from its large size; it produces only 3-4 cloves per bulb and has a mellow flavor.
You are likely to find this type at a farmers market. The name comes from the stiff top part of the bulb. The center of which has a robust tube-like structure. Hardneck is more flavorful than other types, and some people consider it almost spicy. It typically has 4-12 cloves per bulb.
Softneck is the type that is most widely available in grocery stores. It has a thin, papery skin that protects a large number of cloves — anywhere from 10-30. The cloves typically get smaller as they get closer to the center.
How to Choose Garlic
You want to pick completely dry bulbs. From the outside, look for cloves that are plump and firm. You also want plenty of the papery sheath. If there is a green shoot growing out of the top, it is past its prime.
If you have one like this at home, you can still eat it. Simply cut around the green part but be aware that it may be bitter. Avoid pre-minced garlic; it has a weak flavor, and since chopping it up doesn’t take too long, it isn’t a useful timesaver.
Once you bring your it home, store it in the pantry near the onions, not in the refrigerator.
Preparations Of Garlic
You will come across more than just cloves in recipes. There are several other iterations of the allium. Powder, granulated, and salt are the most popular. That being said, which do you use, and when?
The powder is made from dehydrated cloves that were ground into a powder. It has a texture similar to flour.
A few brands include partially hydrogenated oil, “PHO,” to increase the shelf-life. Try to avoid these as the FDA has generally recognized “PHO” as unsafe.
The powder will sometimes form clumps when exposed to moisture. It is best to store your spices and herbs away from the oven and other sources of steam. If chunks do form, you can tap the container’s side to loosen the powder or place a fork inside and twist it around. It is worth noting that, when clumps for, it is getting past its prime.
The powdered version has a more concentrated flavor than other versions because it has the least air. It works well in quick-cooking, marinades, seasoning mixes, and as a condiment since its potent flavor releases faster.
Need a substitute?
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder = 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/3 teaspoon of garlic powder = 1 fresh clove
Also made from dehydrated cloves, granulated garlic is similar to the powdered version. The main difference is in the texture.
Granulated is grainier, more like cornmeal, and it is less potent. This version combines better with liquids, so it is best in salad dressings.
Need a substitute?
1 teaspoon granulated garlic = 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic = 1 fresh clove
More salt than garlic, this version is made from adding three parts of salt to powder. If you need a substitute, simply make your own. The type of salt matters here. Kosher is best for it’s larger flakes. We recommend the Diamond Crystal brand.
3 Tablespoons Kosher Salt + 1 Tablespoon of Garlic Powder = ¼ Cup of Garlic Salt
Try adding some garlic salt to pasta water to add flavor.
Garlic Substitute Chart
Courtesy of My Spicer
|1 clove =||1/3 tsp. powder|
|1 clove =||1/2 tsp. granulated|
|1 tsp. powder =||2 tsp. granulated|
|1 tsp. granulated =||1/2 teaspoon powder|
What Do You Think?
What version do you like to use? Do you have any favorite uses? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear!
Interested in other kitchen basics? Learn All About Butter.
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