A garlic press is a kitchen tool which is specifically designed for the purpose of pulping garlic for cooking. As is the case with many unitasking kitchen tools, the garlic press is a subject of heated debate among cooks. Some argue that the press produces garlic extract with a superior flavor, while others view the device as rather suspect, and they avoid it, if possible. For cooks who do enjoy using a garlic press, many kitchen supply stores sell the devices, and they can also be ordered through kitchen supply companies.
There are two basic parts of the utensil. The parts are typically connected by a hinge. The first is an extruder basket, a small sturdy bowl into which garlic can be placed. The bottom of the bowl is made from a finely pierced piece of metal or extruder plate, so that when the garlic is pushed, it is forced through the holes in the metal. Typically, the bowl, extruder plate, and handle are molded as a single piece. The second piece of the garlic press consists of a press which fits into the bowl, attached to a long handle.
To use the press, the cook loads garlic cloves into the extruder basket and then pushes the press into the basket. The long handle provides leverage, allowing the cook to force the garlic through into a waiting container. Typically, the outside of the garlic press will need to be lightly shaved with a sharp knife to get all of the strings of garlic out of it. The resulting pressed garlic is very fine in texture, with a rich garlic aroma that comes from a multitude of burst cell walls.
Some cooks find it easier to leave the peels on their garlic when they press it. This certainly makes it easier to clean, although the peels may need to be removed periodically to clear up clogs in the press, allowing all of the garlic to get through. Most garlic presses also have small teeth in the press portion which match the holes in the extruder plate, further forcing the garlic through.
Cooks who like garlic presses argue the tool yields perfectly minced garlic without having to fuss with a knife. Furthermore, the press releases more garlic flavor, because the garlic is crushed to release its heady perfume. Critics generally rail against the garlic press because of its essentially single-task nature, rather than providing any concrete objections to the tool.