top of page
  • Writer's pictureJere Folgert

Garlic Compounds. Half-Life of Garlic "Hotness" after Crushing or Chopping.

Updated: Apr 2

The act of chopping garlic appears mundane, yet it initiates a fascinating cascade of chemical reactions.

You just cut, chopped, and smashed a few cloves of Garlic. Immediately, a powerful chemical reaction begins. Crushing or chopping garlic releases an enzyme called alliinase that catalyzes the formation of allicin. Crushing or chopping garlic releases an enzyme called alliinase that catalyzes the formation of allicin from S-allyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide (Allin). Allicin rapidly breaks down to form a variety of organosulfur compounds. The formation of thiosulfate is very fast and is complete in about a minute after crushing garlic. The strong garlic flavor that is produced does not last very long. That is one good reason not to buy "Minced Garlic" in a jar.

Cutting Hardneck Garlic in the Kitchen
Cutting Hardneck Garlic in the Kitchen

The Secret Spice Smackdown: Why Fresh Garlic Crushes the Competition:

Ever wondered why freshly chopped garlic packs such a punch compared to that pre-minced stuff in a jar? It all boils down to a dramatic, flavor-fueled fight club happening inside each clove! Buckle up, because we're about to dive into the surprising science behind that oh-so-satisfying garlic bite.

The Pre-Chop Punch:

Inside a whole garlic clove, two key players lie in wait: alliin (say "ALL-in") and the enzyme alliinase (say "al-LEE-uh-nase"). Think of alliin as a flavor bomb waiting to explode, and alliinase as the trigger. As long as these two are separated, things stay chill. But the moment you smash, chop, or mince that garlic clove, all heck breaks loose!

The All-Out Allicin Attack:

The act of chopping disrupts the cell walls of the garlic, bringing alliin and alliinase together. BAM! Alliinase gets to work, transforming alliin into a new molecule called allicin. This, my friends, is the secret weapon of fresh garlic. Allicin is where that powerful garlic flavor and aroma come from.

The Flavor Fadeaway:

But here's the twist: allicin is a bit of a diva. It's incredibly unstable and quickly breaks down into a bunch of other sulfur-containing compounds. These new molecules still contribute to the overall garlic flavor, but they're not quite as intense as the original allicin punch. That's why the strong garlic taste fades over time.

Fresh is Always Best:

So, what does this mean for your cooking? Pre-chopped garlic in a jar has already been through this flavor fight club. The allicin has broken down, leaving behind a weaker, less vibrant taste. Fresh garlic, on the other hand, lets you control the smackdown! By chopping it just before use, you get the full power of the allicin attack, resulting in a more intense and delicious garlic experience.

The Takeaway:

Next time you're reaching for garlic, ditch the jar and grab a fresh clove. Embrace the chop! It's a small effort that unleashes a world of flavor in your kitchen. After all, a little science can go a long way in creating seriously delicious food.

Coyboy Garlic Wranglers In Montana.

Garlic is a popular ingredient in many cuisines, and it is known for its strong flavor and health benefits. However, garlic loses its potency quickly after it is cut or minced. The half-life of garlic is about 2.5 days, meaning that half of the allicin in garlic is lost after 2.5 days.

Allicin is the compound that gives garlic its characteristic flavor and health benefits. It is also a powerful antioxidant, and it has been shown to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. When garlic is cut or minced, the allicin is released from its cells. This allicin is then rapidly broken down by enzymes in the garlic. The rate of breakdown is affected by a number of factors, including the temperature, the pH of the environment, and the presence of other compounds.

At room temperature, the half-life of allicin is about 2.5 days. This means that half of the allicin will be lost after 2.5 days, and half will remain. After about 5 days, only one-quarter of the allicin will remain, and so on.

The half-life of allicin can be extended by storing garlic in the freezer. In the freezer, the half-life of allicin is about 7 days. This is because the cold temperature slows down the activity of the enzymes that break down allicin.

If you want to maximize the health benefits of garlic, it is best to consume it soon after it is cut or minced. You can also store garlic in the freezer slow down the breakdown of allicin.

garlic compounds, chopping, raw garlic, porcelain, eating raw garlic, culinary garlic
Cutting Garlic Cloves

Cooking Garlic

Cooking garlic can reduce the amount of allicin it contains. Allicin is the compound that gives garlic its characteristic flavor and health benefits. It is also a powerful antioxidant, and it has been shown to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. When garlic is cooked, the allicin is broken down into other compounds. These compounds still have some health benefits, but they are not as potent as allicin.

The amount of allicin that is lost when garlic is cooked depends on a number of factors, including the cooking method, the temperature, and the duration of cooking. In general, cooking garlic for a longer period of time or at a higher temperature will result in a greater loss of allicin. However, there are some cooking methods that can help to preserve the allicin content of garlic.

One way to preserve allicin is to cook garlic slowly at a low temperature. This method is often used in Asian cooking. Another way to preserve allicin is to add garlic to dishes at the end of cooking. This will help to minimize the amount of time that the garlic is exposed to heat. If you want to maximize the health benefits of garlic, it is best to consume it raw or cooked using a method that preserves its allicin content. However, even cooked garlic still has some health benefits, so you don't have to avoid it altogether.

Garlic and Organosulfur Compounds

In many cultures, garlic has been used for culinary purposes for centuries, likely because Garlic is a particularly rich source of organosulfur compounds, which are thought to be responsible for its flavor and aroma, as well as its potential health benefits. Allicin is made when two substances present in garlic, alliin and allinase, interact - a chemical reaction that only occurs when the cells of the clove are broken down, through cutting, crushing, slicing, or biting. Allicin rapidly breaks down to form a variety of organosulfur compounds. This is an unstable chemical reaction. In other words, the "garlic hotness" does not last forever, and apparently, Allicin has a half-life of about three days (depending on temperature, storage, etc).

Hardneck Garlic is a particularly rich source of organosulfur compounds. When raw garlic cloves are crushed, chopped, or chewed, an enzyme known as alliinase is released. Alliinase catalyzes the formation of sulfenic acids from L-cysteine sulfoxides. Sulfenic acids spontaneously react with each other to form unstable compounds called thiosulfinates. In the case of alliin, the resulting sulfenic acids react with each other to form a thiosulfinate known as allicin (half-life in crushed garlic at 23°C is 2.5 days).

Conclusion. The Allure of Allicin: Fresh Garlic's Flavor Chemistry

The act of chopping garlic appears mundane, yet it initiates a fascinating cascade of chemical reactions. This blog post delves into the enzymatic conversion of alliin to allicin, the volatile compound responsible for garlic's characteristic pungency.

Within an intact garlic clove lies a fascinating biochemical defense system. S-allyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide (alliin) serves as a precursor molecule, awaiting activation. Alliinase, an enzyme compartmentalized within separate vacuoles, acts as the catalyst. Upon cellular disruption caused by crushing or chopping, alliin comes into contact with alliinase. This triggers the enzymatic conversion of alliin to allicin (allyl(2-propenethiosulfinate)).

Allicin is a highly unstable organosulfur compound, readily undergoing further reactions within seconds to minutes. This rapid transformation generates a variety of volatile sulfur-containing species, some contributing to the distinctive aroma and flavor profile of garlic. Notably, the formation of thiosulfate occurs swiftly, reaching completion within approximately one minute after garlic is crushed.

The crucial takeaway from this intricate biochemical pathway lies in the transient nature of allicin. Its rapid degradation underscores the importance of using fresh garlic for optimal flavor impact. Pre-chopped or pre-minced garlic, often found in jars, has already undergone this enzymatic process. The allicin has significantly diminished, resulting in a noticeably weaker and less pungent garlic experience.

In conclusion, the seemingly simple act of chopping garlic unlocks a captivating display of enzymatic activity. Understanding this process empowers us to maximize the flavor potential of this versatile ingredient. By opting for fresh garlic and chopping it immediately before use, we harness the power of allicin and elevate our culinary creations.

If you are making a raw garlic dish, begin with Porcelain or Purple stripe Hardneck Garlic: Music, German Extra Hardy, Ivan, Montana Zemo, Rosewood Persian Star, Metechi, Purple Glazer, or Bogatyr.

References and Sources:

1. Oregon State University. Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrient Information Center.

2. Guercio V, Galeone C, Turati F, La Vecchia C. Gastric cancer and allium vegetable intake: a critical review of the experimental and epidemiologic evidence. Nutr Cancer. 2014;66(5):757-773. (PubMed)

3. Block E. The chemistry of garlic and onions. Sci Am. 1985;252(3):114-119.

4. Blumenthal M. Herb Sales Down 7.4 Percent in Mainstream Market. HerbalGram: American Botanical Council; 2005:63.

5. Trio PZ, You S, He X, He J, Sakao K, Hou DX. Chemopreventive functions and molecular mechanisms of garlic organosulfur compounds. Food Funct. 2014;5(5):833-844. (PubMed)

6. Lawson LD. Garlic: a review of its medicinal effects and indicated active compounds. In: Lawson LD, Bauer R, eds. Phytomedicines of Europe: Chemistry and Biological Activity. Washington, D. C.: American Chemical Society; 1998:177-209.

7. Amagase H. Clarifying the real bioactive constituents of garlic. J Nutr. 2006;136(3 Suppl):716S-725S. (PubMed)

8. Lawson LD, Wang ZJ. Allicin and allicin-derived garlic compounds increase breath acetone through allyl methyl sulfide: use in measuring allicin bioavailability. J Agric Food Chem. 2005;53(6):1974-1983. (PubMed)

9. Lawson LD, Hughes BG. Characterization of the formation of allicin and other thiosulfinates from garlic. Planta Med. 1992;58(4):345-350. (PubMed)

10. Minami T, Boku T, Inada K, Morita M, Okasaki Y. Odor components of human breath after the ingestion of grated raw garlic. J Food Sci. 1989;54:763-765.

11. Suarez F, Springfield J, Furne J, Levitt M. Differentiation of mouth versus gut as site of origin of odoriferous breath gases after garlic ingestion. Am J Physiol. 1999;276(2 Pt 1):G425-430. (PubMed)

12. de Rooij BM, Boogaard PJ, Rijksen DA, Commandeur JN, Vermeulen NP. Urinary excretion of N-acetyl-S-allyl-L-cysteine upon garlic consumption by human volunteers. Arch Toxicol. 1996;70(10):635-639. (PubMed)

13. Jandke J, Spiteller G. Unusual conjugates in biological profiles originating from consumption of onions and garlic. J Chromatogr. 1987;421(1):1-8. (PubMed)

14. Kodera Y, Suzuki A, Imada O, et al. Physical, chemical, and biological properties of s-allylcysteine, an amino acid derived from garlic. J Agric Food Chem. 2002;50(3):622-632. (PubMed)

15. Percival SS. Aged Garlic Extract Modifies Human Immunity. J Nutr. 2016;146(2):433S-436S. (PubMed)

16. Steiner M, Khan AH, Holbert D, Lin RI. A double-blind crossover study in moderately hypercholesterolemic men that compared the effect of aged garlic extract and placebo administration on blood lipids. Am J Clin Nutr. 1996;64(6):866-870. (PubMed)

17. Nagae S, Ushijima M, Hatono S, et al. Pharmacokinetics of the garlic compound S-allylcysteine. Planta Med. 1994;60(3):214-217. (PubMed)

18. Budoff MJ, Takasu J, Flores FR, et al. Inhibiting progression of coronary calcification using Aged Garlic Extract in patients receiving statin therapy: a preliminary study. Prev Med. 2004;39(5):985-991. (PubMed)

19. Horev-Azaria L, Eliav S, Izigov N, et al. Allicin up-regulates cellular glutathione level in vascular endothelial cells. Eur J Nutr. 2009;48(2):67-74. (PubMed)

20. Liu C, Cao F, Tang QZ, et al. Allicin protects against cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis via attenuating reactive oxygen species-dependent signaling pathways. J Nutr Biochem. 2010;21(12):1238-1250. (PubMed)

21. Chen C, Kong AN. Dietary chemopreventive compounds and ARE/EpRE signaling. Free Radic Biol Med. 2004;36(12):1505-1516. (PubMed)

22. Zeng T, Zhang CL, Song FY, et al. The activation of HO-1/Nrf-2 contributes to the protective effects of diallyl disulfide (DADS) against ethanol-induced oxidative stress. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013;1830(10):4848-4859. (PubMed)

23. Tsai CY, Wang CC, Lai TY, et al. Antioxidant effects of diallyl trisulfide on high glucose-induced apoptosis are mediated by the PI3K/Akt-dependent activation of Nrf2 in cardiomyocytes. Int J Cardiol. 2013;168(2):1286-1297. (PubMed)

24. Hiramatsu K, Tsuneyoshi T, Ogawa T, Morihara N. Aged garlic extract enhances heme oxygenase-1 and glutamate-cysteine ligase modifier subunit expression via the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2-antioxidant response element signaling pathway in human endothelial cells. Nutr Res. 2016;36(2):143-149. (PubMed)

hardneck garlic at groeat farm in bozeman montana

Hardneck Garlic Painting at GroEat Farm in Montana.

 GroEat Farm Offers Hardneck Garlic That Is Pesticide-Free,  and Non-GMO. Our Garlic is Pure, Simple, and Natural.   GroEAT Garlic is Grown in Montana usingOrganically-Rich Soils, Organic Compost, and Organic Worm Castings. We are Garlic Farmers.  We Plant Garlic in Organically-Rich Soil and Help the Garlic Plants Thrive. Garlic has the Necessary DNA and Instructions to Grow, Thrive and Produce the Next Generation of Bulbs.  We are Garlic Facilitators.  Our Garlic Plants Produce some of the most Highly Prized Bulbs, as the Delicate and Smooth Flavors of our Montana Garlic work in Harmony with Choice Recipes, to Create Fragrant, Bright, ad Well-balanced Flavors.  Our Garlic Appeals to a Broad Range of Garlic Lovers. 

1,397 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page