Lemon juice defangs garlic

— You have to give the old wives some credit. Sometimes there’s truth to their tales. As was the case with this French one for tempering raw garlic’s pungency.

According to America’s Test Kitchen’s The Feed (, the process was simple. To mellow the bite of raw garlic, soak it in an acid, such as lemon juice, for 10 minutes, then drain and proceed withthe recipe.

It worked for The Feed so I decided to give it a try.

Unfortunately, the trusted editors at America’s Test Kitchen failed to include some important information (quite unusual for a group known for itstendency to detail in minutiae every process and step it takes in a recipe, even the failed ones) - the ratio of lemon juice to garlic. So I did some experimenting, and in the style of ATK, here are all the details.

I minced several cloves of garlic and then carefully measured 1 teaspoon into each of three small bowls. I then juiced one lemon.

Into the first bowl of garlic I added just enough lemon juice to barely coat, basically a sprinkle.

In the second bowl I added a full teaspoon of lemon juice for a 1:1 ratio.

The remaining lemon juice went into the third bowl, filling the bowl with enough juice that the minced garlic was free to float around.

After 10 minutes I smelled each of the bowls, thinking my nose would likely be a better preliminary judge than my tongue.

The bowl with just a sprinkle of lemon juice was strong and pungent with garlic and nary a whiff of lemon.

The equal parts bowl had a nice balanced aroma of garlic and lemon.

The third bowl smelled mostly of lemon with a sharp garlic ending punch.

For the taste test I made a garlicky compound butter inspired by maitre d’ butter withthe lightly drained garlic.

The butter made with equal parts garlic and lemon juice was the clear winner. It gave the butter a nice savory garlic flavor, but lacked the bite of raw garlic.

The butter is delicious tossed with steamed vegetables or rice, atop a seared steak or simply slathered on crusty bread.

But don’t limit your uses of acid-soaked garlic to just flavored butter. Salads and vinaigrettes, pasta sauces and any other dish that calls for raw garlic are good options.

Garlicky Maitre d’ Butter 1/2 cup butter, softened 1 teaspoon minced fresh flat

leaf parsley OR 1/2 teaspoon

dried 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

(soaked for 10 minutes in 1/2

teaspoon lemon juice) Salt and ground black pepper Combine all ingredients and mix well. Place mixture on a sheet of waxed paper and shape into a log, wrap and refrigerate until firm.

Makes about 1/2 cup.

Food, Pages 29 on 01/23/2013

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