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A Rant: The Evils of Jarred Garlic

Yes, hello. It’s been rawther a while since I’ve vented my culinary spleen, so do forgive me as I dust off my soapbox and hold forth for a bit. Today’s topic: garlic. Specifically, the ”garlic” that comes chopped up and stuffed into a shelf-stable jar at the supermarket. Ech, ech, ech, ech. This stuff is an abomination, and I am launching a crusade/jihad against it, much like my campaign against “baby” carrots. Don’t EVEN get me started on the carrots…

Ahem, anyway, garlic. Whole heads of garlic last quite a long time, peeling and chopping garlic is NOT that big a deal–for lord’s sake–and its taste is so, so superior to the jarred kind that it beggars belief. Why anyone with functioning taste buds would use the latter at all is totally beyond me. Really, with all the gadgetry out there devoted to the dismemberment of all things allium (garlic rollers, onion goggles, veggie choppers), I would imagine that the even most sensitive and delicate of cooks would be able to chop their own garlic. And, honestly, if it’s still so bad armed with the latest in kitchen tech, prehaps one should just order take-out and be done with it.

Of course, it’s also important to understand WHY jarred garlic is anathema, and it boils down to the preservatives that are used to keep it… well, “edible”, I suppose. Note please that this is not a takedown of preservatives writ large, just these particular ones in this particular use. Why? Because these additives rob the garlic of nuance and deliciousness, leaving behind only a stank, musty heat and blistering acidity. That acidity doesn’t come from the garlic either. Oh, no.

If you’ve splashed out on the fancy expensive jar o’ garlic mush, it’ll likely be preserved with citric acid. And, while one CAN isolate citric acid from adorable little tangerines and such, most of it is made chemical plants… in China. Plants in China make many wonderful things, but none that I’d really want to put IN my body. If you’ve gone the cheap route, then your garlic has in all likelihood been embalmed with phosphoric acid, a substance also made in a lab, one that’s been linked to diminished bone density and kidney disease. So, like, hooray for THAT.

In any event, why bother preserving something if in the process you kill the aspects (the taste) you’re trying to save? In short, jarred garlic is vile. Buy it fresh and chop it yourself–I’ll even permit, with only minor eye-rolling, the pre-peeled but still fresh garlic cloves one can now find for sale. And that’s the word.

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