Boy Bawang’s Revenge: Garlic Peeling Video goes Viral

I love Garlic – so much that I am practically vampire proof. Who doesn’t? Boy Bawang sales are through the roof. When I cook with garlic I use more than the recommended amount. Smells like an Italian locker room , but that’s the way I like it.

But peeling garlic has always been a royal pain in the ass. As any one from Mark Bittman to Jamie Oliver (the video chefs I learned how to cook from) will tell you, here is the traditional method, which I find quite tedious.

It involves separating the individual cloves, placing each clove on a chopping board, then whacking it with the flat end of a chef’s knife.

Sort of like this:


That’s still a lot of effort per clove. Given a whole head of garlic, it might take a minute or more to get the job done.

Luckily I saw this video by Saveur Magazine posted on Vimeo and YouTube that explains a nifty way for getting a whole head of garlic in just 10 seconds. The video clip strangely went viral on social media yesterday. It looks incredible, but I tried it and much to my surprise, it actually works!



So occasionally those viral internet memes can be good for something useful after all.

How this trick works is a bit of a mystery.

I did find one attenpt to explain it on the Plos Blogs Network, in a post entitled “So Why Does the Garlic Trick Work?” by John Rennie.

The short version is that vigorously shaking a crushed head of garlic inside two metal bowls will within seconds separate the cloves cleanly from the dried peel around them. The question is, why?

Of course, the dry fibrous peel is relatively brittle, so all the agitation inside the shaking bowls helps to break it open along the seams. The clove itself is slightly slippery, so that helps it to slip out of the broken peel.

But I thought something more might be going on, so I did an experiment. I put a single unpeeled clove into the metal bowls, shook them like crazy… and nothing happened. A few flakes of peel had broken away but the clove was still enclosed. When I repeated the trick with two cloves in the bowls, however, it worked as advertised. Both cloves were very neatly separated from their peels.

My best guess is that more than one unpeeled clove is necessary because friction and the mutual abrasion of the cloves as they bounce around inside the bowls is crucial. It’s working on the same principle as a rock tumbler, in which the stones rub one another to smoothness. The trick polishes the peel away from the garlic.

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