You Should Never Use Minced Garlic From A Jar. Here's Why

There's nothing like fresh garlic. No, seriously. Maybe some people and all vampires dislike the smell, but there's something about that aroma of freshly chopped garlic that just makes you confident: This meal is going to be good and flavorful.

And we'll admit it: Chopping garlic can be time-consuming. If you don't have a foolproof chopping method, you could end up hopelessly hacking away at irregularly sized little garlic chunks. But even poorly chopped garlic is better than the alternative: minced garlic from a jar, or, as we like to call it, garlic in purgatory. This garlic is expensive, oily, and seriously doesn't know what it wants to be. As human beings, we all have identity issues, but garlic should not: Raw garlic should be sharp, bitter, and aromatic, and frankly, the jarred stuff doesn't deliver. It may seem easier – no mincing – and it lasts longer, but it lacks flavor (via MyRecipes).

When The Kitchn editor Sheela Prakash compared minced jarred garlic to several other forms, like frozen cubes and pre-peeled cloves, the puree in a jar ranked pretty low. Why? Prakash observed a stale, subdued flavor. And if not for flavor, why else would you eat garlic? We're not exactly doing it to smell good. Opt for fresh garlic: If mincing is too tricky, you can use some shortcuts along the way. We've got you.

Mincing, slicing, or roasting whole

A rule of thumb: Garlic tastes different depending on how you slice it. (Pun not intended.) When you mince garlic or chop it into a paste, you're releasing some very intense flavors.

Minced cloves "will distribute more flavor in a dish and is perfect in sauces and marinades," according to Claudia Sidoti, head chef at Hello Fresh (via Eat This). When you put in the time to freshly mince your garlic, you're loading your tomato sauce or stir fry with zesty flavor and not bland, slick stuff out of a jar.

That being said, if mincing isn't your thing, there are plenty of recipes that require garlic in other forms. Roasting whole cloves of garlic provides a sweeter, milder flavor base for roasted chicken or shrimp (via New York Times). Cutting the garlic into thin slices will allow you to heat them into little golden-brown bites of flavor for a pasta dish (via Epicurious). When you opt for the jar of pre-minced garlic, you're limiting your options and subjecting yourself to the same flavorless mash every time.

Smash it, chop it, blend it

If you really feel nervous about mincing fresh garlic, start by smashing it, according to Epicurious. Smashing the clove with a wide-blade knife will allow you to peel the clove more easily; it will also start the process of breaking the garlic into little pieces. Once you cut off the ends and peel off the skin, you're in business. Rock your knife gently into the clove until, quite simply, the pieces are small enough for the "minced" look you're trying to get. If you want to go further and create a paste, continue chopping, add some coarse salt to create friction, and literally rub your knife blade across the cutting board like you're trying to smush your fresh, garlicky concoction.

We won't lie: that paste part can take a lot of laborious knife-smushing. If you want a fresh, quick garlic paste for a marinade or an aioli, just throw your peeled cloves into the food processor with some salt. It may feel like cheating, but it works well: since the garlic is freshly pulverized, and not packed away in a jar or tube, you retain that burst of intensity (via Splendid Table). And, your fingers will hardly get sticky. Win-win.

Refresh your health with the fresh stuff

Garlic has long been hailed for its health benefits. The ancient Egyptians who were conscripted to build the pyramids used garlic rations to boost their immune systems and physical strength, according to How Stuff Works. But that garlic might not have worked as effectively if it had been in jars – or the tiny garlic tombs the ancient Egyptians would have probably used.

The American Chemical Society explains that garlic is famous for fighting off microbes, thanks to its allicin content, which may also combat blood clots and cancer (via Science Daily). In 2008, researchers found that when chopped garlic was stored in water or oil – as is the case with many bottled garlic – the allicin stores decreased drastically, decreasing its antibacterial abilities. When the garlic was kept in water at room temperature, the amount of allicin was halved within six days. It took less than an hour for vegetable oil to cut the allicin levels in half. While even the degraded garlic would still potentially yield health benefits, it seems that fresher was better. According to Northwestern Medicine, if you're looking to reap the benefits of allicin, nothing beats fresh garlic, not even supplements.