I've had a garlic press forever, but for some reason, I hardly ever use it. After dusting it off the other day and squeezing a clove through it in about 10 seconds, I began to wonder why I don't use it more.
In the test kitchen, we rarely use a garlic press, apparently because none of our contributors do either. Most of our recipes come in calling for minced garlic, not pressed.
Adding to my indecision is the debate over whether garlic presses are good for garlic or not. Some say that the press creates a better garlic flavor because it breaks down the cloves more fully, releasing more garlic flavor and producing a fine purée that integrates better with other ingredients. But many chefs shun the press, saying it makes for lousy garlic flavor.
Hoping to taste the difference for myself, I made some garlic bread by splitting a clove in half, then pressing one half and mincing the other by hand. I mixed the garlic with equal amounts of butter and salt, spread it on some crusty bread, and baked it until toasty.
The results couldn't have been more inconclusive. Of the four people who tasted, two thought the pressed garlic bread was stronger and more pungent than the minced. The other two had exactly the opposite reaction. Maybe I didn't mix the garlic thoroughly enough into the butter, or I spread it on unevenly. Who knows. My takeaway from this experiment is that the difference is miniscule. In a dish where garlic is not so center-stage, I don't think you'd notice it at all.
So will I use my garlic press more? Probably, but then, old habits die hard. I'm used to mincing, and though the press makes quicker work of the garlic, it's a pain to clean.
What do you think? To press or not to press?