Last Updated on November 1, 2022 by Practical Cooks
Garlic is very sticky because of the chemical in its cells called allicin. Allicin is a sulfur-containing chemical that makes garlic taste and smell strong.
When you chop garlic, it releases allicin from the cells of the garlic bulb or clove. This article explores this and other possible answers to why garlic is sticky.
Is Garlic Always Sticky?
Garlic is a well-liked ingredient in many dishes and has been a component of traditional medicine for thousands of years. The sticky texture of garlic is a result of the following reasons:
The sulfur compounds in garlic are responsible for many of its health effects. These compounds include allicin, diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide, and other organosulfur compounds.
These sulfur compounds react with each other when they’re cut open or crushed and produce a sticky substance called allicin. The most famous sulfur compound in garlic is allicin, which gives garlic its characteristic odor and taste when it’s crushed or cut.
Allicin has antibacterial properties and can help boost your immune system by fighting off colds and flu viruses.
Allicin also has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce swelling and pain caused by inflammation of the joints or muscles (rheumatoid arthritis).
The stickiness comes from the carbohydrates in garlic. The sugars in garlic become sticky when heated, which happens during cooking. When you slice or chop garlic, you break down the cell walls of each clove, exposing more starch granules to water and air.
Consequently, the sugar components are more likely to stick together under heat exposure.
The amount of sugar in garlic varies from variety to variety and from region to region. Garlic from China, for example, has more sugar than garlic from California or Mexico.
Sugar helps to make garlic taste good and gives it a unique flavor that’s hard to find in other foods.
Related: Why am I craving garlic?
Glutamic acid, also known as glutamic acid or L-glutamic acid, is an α-amino acid that living things use in the biosynthesis of proteins. It is an organic acid made of carbon and nitrogen, with a double bond between the carbon and nitrogen atoms in the middle of the molecule.
Thus, it is an amide or an organic compound that contains ammonia.
The high amounts of glutamic acid in garlic react with water, forming a gelatinous substance that makes garlic sticky. The more glutamic acid there is in the garlic, the stickier it will be.
The amount of free glutamic acid in garlic depends on how much water it contains and how long it was cooked or soaked before use; soaking garlic longer allows more water to evaporate and concentrates its flavor.
Garlic contains large amounts of polysaccharides that make it sticky when cooked or crushed. Polysaccharides are long chains of sugars that help give plants their structure and shape.
When you chop or boil garlic in water, polysaccharide molecules release from within their cells into the surrounding liquid causing it to become dense and sticky. Therefore crushed garlic sticks together throughout a dish.
Is It Bad To Eat Sticky Garlic?
Eating sticky garlic is not bad, but you may want to avoid it for a few reasons.
Flavor and texture are the main reasons why you’d avoid sticky garlic. If you’re picky about your garlic, maybe you don’t want to use it for cooking because it will add an unpleasant texture to your dish.
Before cooking with sticky garlic, wash it thoroughly under running water.
How Do You Keep Garlic From Sticking to Your Hand And Knife?
The good news is that there are ways to prevent sticky hands after chopping garlic. Here are some tips on how to keep your fingers clean while preparing this delicious seasoning:
Coat Your Hands and Knife With Oil
Add one tablespoon of oil per pound of peeled cloves before cutting them. This process helps loosen up the sticky enzyme and creates a barrier between the knife and blade, making cutting the cloves easier.
Use a Garlic Press
A garlic press breaks the cloves into small pieces without exposing them to add moisture or oxygen. This procedure prevents the oxidation of enzymes, reducing garlic’s overall stickiness.
Add a Little Salt
After mincing or chopping the cloves, sprinkle them with coarse salt. Salt absorbs moisture and acts as an abrasive that cleans the garlic off the surface of your knife blade.
Also, the salt raises the pH level of your hands, so they’re less alkaline than usual. The process makes them less hospitable to enzymes in raw garlic.
Freeze the Garlic
Before chopping the garlic, put it in the freezer for a few minutes to make them easy to chop. Ensure to chop the garlic while frozen because it will become sticky and difficult to chop when it thaws out.
Use a Serrated or Ceramic Knife
A ceramic or plastic knife offers the best way to prevent garlic from sticking to your knife and hands. The smooth surfaces of these knives don’t allow the garlic to stick quickly to them.
Its teeth firmly grip the garlic for the serrated blade, preventing it from sticking.
How To Get Garlic Smell Out of Your Hands
If you’re a fan of garlic, chances are you’ve encountered the problem of getting the smell off your hands. It’s not one of those things that go away on its own, but it’s also not impossible to eliminate. Here are some tips:
Scrub With Soap and Water
Soap and hot water is the most common method to remove the garlic odor on your hands. The soap breaks down the natural oils on your skin, and they carry the garlic odor.
Just make sure to use a strong soap that will strip the skin of natural oils and eliminate the garlic odor.
Rub Your Hands With Lemon Juice or Vinegar
Rubbing lemon juice on your hands will help neutralize the sulfur compounds in garlic, which are responsible for its pungent aroma. Vinegar is another option, as it contains acetic acid, which breaks down odor-causing molecules in garlic oil.
However, vinegar may leave your hands feeling sticky. If that happens, wash them with soap and water and follow up with a moisturizer.
Sprinkle Some Baking Soda
Baking soda is another effective way of removing garlic smells from your hands thanks to its deodorizing properties. Sprinkle some baking soda onto a damp paper towel or wet wipe, then scrub it into your hands until they’re dry again.
Use a Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer has alcohol that evaporates and carries with it the garlic smell. For this method to be effective, the hand sanitizer should at least contain 60% alcohol, and after using alcohol, you can follow up with a moisturizer.
How To Tell If Garlic Is Bad
You can use garlic in almost any recipe, but it’s not always easy to tell if garlic has gone off. According to a recent survey, about 34% of Americans cook with garlic daily or multiple times per week. For this reason, it’s crucial to know if garlic is rotten before you use it in your cooking.
You can tell if garlic is old by looking at its color, texture, and aroma. Fresh garlic bulbs have light brown skin and mottled darker areas around the inside cloves.
A bulb that looks dark or has spots on its outer layer may indicate that the garlic is past its prime. If you cut open the bulb and find that it has begun to sprout new growths, it’s no longer usable for cooking purposes.
Garlic should have a strong, pungent aroma when minced or chopped. If your garlic has lost its scent, it’s probably gone bad. The other way you can tell if garlic is old is by touch.
When fresh, garlic will feel firm and solid when squeezed between your fingers. If it feels soft and mushy, it’s probably gone bad.
How To Cut Sticky Garlic?
The process is the same for both thin and thick cloves, though it will take longer if you have a large one.
Step 1. Cut Off the Root End
The root end is dark and dry, while the rest of the clove is light in color and moist. You’ll want to cut off as much of this dark portion as possible because it can make your garlic bitter.
Place the clove on a chopping board with the flat side down. If you’re working with thin cloves, you can stand them up on their pointy ends; otherwise, lay them flat on their sides.
Step 2. Split and Strip
Section: Hold a knife in your dominant hand and place it lengthwise at the top of the clove, then press down to split the garlic. The goal is to make peeling off its outer layer easier before you begin chopping. Peel off the skin and any loose bits of clove.
Step 3. Dip the Garlic in Olive Oil
Sprinkle salt on your cutting board and place a peeled garlic clove on top. You’ll want to use a cutting board that’s not too porous, or else the salt will go through it and make your countertop sticky.
Step 4. Begin Chopping
Use a large chef’s knife to chop up your garlic — it’s the easiest way to get through even some of the tougher cloves. You don’t need to be precise. Just cut them into small pieces, as long as they’re not too small, that they’ll burn during cooking.
Try the Garlic Press
In light of the sticky nature of garlic, we recommend using a garlic press when you need small amounts of finely minced garlic.
For larger jobs, such as prepping a whole sauce, chopping the garlic with a chef’s knife may be more effective. Follow the above tips to keep it from sticking.
Garlic is one of the best flavor components you can add to your dish. Hopefully, this article has given you fantastic tips for cooking with this versatile ingredient!