Raw Garlic vs Garlic Powder.
Updated: Dec 21, 2022
Raw Garlic vs Garlic Powder? Which Tastes Better?
We put Raw Garlic "head to head" with Garlic Powder in this food face-off.
To clear up any confusion: Garlic powder is a natural product. The powder is made from peeled garlic cloves, that are dehydrated and ground up. Some spice companies will also add Calcium silicate, which is often included in garlic powder to keep it from clumping. Discard any "garlic powder" if you find additional ingredients in powdered garlic, especially in those manufactured by larger spice companies. Both fresh and dried garlic can add zest and flavor to a meal. Still, there are a few important differences worth noting. Like all dried and processed foods, garlic powder is less nutritious and less flavorful than fresh cloves. Garlic is one of the most popular and commonly-used ingredients in kitchens all over the world. It’s also one ingredient that a lot of chefs have strong, passionate opinions on when it comes to the question of how garlic should be used.
Taste, smell, and flavor
Generally speaking, “taste” is basically a bundle of different sensations: it is not only the qualities of taste perceived by the tongue but also the smell, texture, and temperature of a meal that are important. The “coloring” of a taste happens through the nose. Only after taste is combined with the smell is a food’s flavor produced. If the sense of smell is impaired, by a stuffy nose, for instance, the perception of taste is usually dulled as well. Like taste, our sense of smell is also closely linked to our emotions. This is because both senses are connected to the involuntary nervous system. That is why flavors that are appetizing increase the production of saliva and gastric juices, making them truly mouthwatering.
Many home cooks and professional chefs have their own, strong opinions on "fresh v.s. powder" garlic. Some professional chefs and cooks refuse to cook with anything but fresh garlic. They claim that the fresh garlic adds subtle aromatics along with beautiful and unique flavors, to the dish they are cooking. However, garlic powder is more convenient to use and store, and it very well may have a place in the kitchen. I personally, stock my kitchen with both fresh cloves and homemade garlic powder, made from the hardneck garlic we grow at our GROeat Garlic Farm.
The Source of the Garlic Makes a Big Difference in Flavor.
The source of the garlic, the species (hardneck or softneck) how and where it was grown, and the garlic's genetics play a huge role in the flavor of garlic. There are two types of garlic species: Softneck (Allium Sativum Sativum) and Hardneck (Allium Sativum Ophioscorodon). Hardneck garlic varieties are believed to have more flavor than Softneck garlic, characterized by a spicy and more complex taste than other garlic species. Distinguishing between a Hardneck and Softneck garlic is done through the presence of a scape (flower stalk). Softnecks grow better in warmer climates. Most of the garlic imported from China is Softneck garlic. Apparently, softneck garlic imported from China is bleached. Softneck garlic is also the type of garlic grown commercially in places like Gilroy California. Hardneck Garlics flourish in cold weather, due to their extensive time of vernalization (exposure to cold conditions for a period of time). Hardneck garlic is typically grown in climates that have a cold winter and a warm summer. The flavor of hardneck garlic is superior to the flavor of softneck garlic. The garlic species most commonly used to produce garlic powder is softneck garlic. Due to their less-complex scent and taste, the Softneck species are more suited as a garnish or spice in dishes and also have a longer storage life than Hardneck varieties.
Does the convenience of using garlic powder make up for the lesser flavor and lower nutritional value of fresh garlic? Taste, price, and texture are three attributes that typically top the list for shoppers when buying any food product — and garlic is no exception. You may have heard other people say, “everybody has different tastes, right!?” However, when it comes to food, the saying’s underlying assumption, that taste is synonymous with preference is not true according to a recent survey. This survey revealed that, for the last decade, the taste has consistently ranked as the most important factor consumers consider when buying and eating food. From chicken and veggies to homemade pizzas and pasta, garlic can add a punch of flavor to just about anything. Not to mention, it carries some health benefits, too.
What is Garlic Powder?
Garlic powders are simply fresh garlic that has undergone a drying process, then broken down into a powder or smaller chunks. This makes them longer-lasting and easier to store as compared to fresh garlic. You can find dried or powdered at most grocery stores, at any time of the year. Garlic powder is considered a spice and of often derived from dried or dehydrated garlic. This powder is used in cooking for flavor enhancement. The process of making garlic powder includes drying and dehydrating the garlic cloves, then powdering it through machinery or home-based appliances depending on the scale of production. Garlic powder is also available as a common component of seasoned salt. In other words, garlic powder is a dried and ground version of the fresh garlic clove. “Granulated garlic” is virtually the same thing, only ground a tad bit coarser.
What is Fresh Garlic?
Fresh garlic is garlic that has been harvested from the soil and cured for about a month or so. Garlic bulbs grow underground and are comprised of individual cloves. The use of a mandarine orange provides a useful analogy. The Bulb or head of garlic is the "whole orange" and the cloves are the small orbs that make up the bulb. Fresh garlic, has a superior taste as compared to powder though it is important to realize that fresh, minced garlic may not disperse as easily and readily, as compared to garlic powder. Fresh, hardneck garlic, if stored properly can last for six months, cloves can also be frozen for many years in a freezer.
Ground Garlic vs. Fresh Garlic: What’s the Difference?
Ground garlic is simply dried garlic pulverized to a fine powder, but that process gives it a different flavor and different properties.
Flavor: Fresh garlic has more complex flavors, is a bit sweeter, more pungent, and has an overall more complex flavor than ground garlic. Chemical composition: Ground garlic contains fewer essential oils and fewer sulfur compounds than fresh garlic. Shelf life: Ground garlic is more shelf-stable than fresh garlic (though it will lose its potency over time) and holds up to high heat better than fresh garlic. Uses: Ground garlic is often used in cooking to lend a spicy, warm flavor to favorites like garlic bread. Ground garlic is often found in spice blends with other similar, complementary spices including salts and dried onions. You can use fresh, raw garlic in many forms—from keeping it in a whole, peeled clove to add flavor to soups and liquids to pickling it to mincing it for a stir-fry. You can also chop or grate it and use it directly in cooking or baking.
Do Garlic Powder and Fresh Garlic have the Same Flavor?
There is a distinct difference in flavor between fresh and powdered garlic. Powdered garlic tends to be milder. As stated earlier, most garlic powders are made from softneck garlic. The flavor of hardneck garlic, especially fresh hardneck garlic, is superior to that of fresh or dehydrated softneck garlic. When used in an appropriate quantity, powdered garlic can certainly elevate the overall flavor of a dish. Squeezing a fresh hardneck garlic clove reveals garlic oils that can be used during the preparation of a dish. Fresh garlic is typically minced and added to a dish, near the end of the cooking process.
The Convenience of Powdered Garlic
In the case of garlic powder, all you need to do is grab the bottle of powder from your spice rack, and sprinkle it over the food you are preparing. Easy, peasy. There is certainly a time and a place to use this easy-to-use dried and granulated version of garlic. There are many other situations where you really should reach for the fresh stuff, a cutting board, and a sharp knife. There are times we all need to save time and take a shortcut that will save a bit of time when cooking. Using fresh garlic powder can help us achieve pretty good final results. Preparing fresh garlic requires more time for sure, as it involves peeling and or chopping/mincing not to mention you have to clean the cutting board and a knife when you are done. Not only does powdered garlic store longer than fresh garlic, powdered garlic very well may be easier to use. Simply shake some garlic powder into your dish from a bottle, and mix. An advantage of using powdered versus fresh garlic is that it’s less prone to burning. If you’re baking garlic bread for example, many chefs and cooks utilize garlic powder. Actually, many of us are so accustomed to the flavor of garlic bread made using garlic powder, that when we try garlic bread made with fresh garlic, the taste can be overwhelming. When using dry rubs for fish, pork, beef and vegetables, sometimes garlic powder is an option. Garlic powder, this dried-out version of garlic has probably sat in your spice rack for longer than you can remember. Because of this, the powder has likely lost some of its potent garlic flavors. For dips, bread, soups, and sauces, where garlic is only a minor flavor component, rather than a primary ingredient, garlic powder is an option.
How to Cook with Fresh Garlic vs Garlic Powder
No matter which type of garlic you choose (fresh or dried), the flavor of garlic will be incorporated into your cooking. Obviously, incorporating too much garlic will ruin the taste of what you are cooking unless, of course, you are preparing Asian Garlic Noodles! When comparing fresh garlic vs. powdered garlic cooking will reduce the value of both products. When cooking with fresh garlic, we typically add the minced garlic at the end of the cooking process. We have also experimented with squeezing a few cloves onto an already cooked (and hot) food dish. The primary benefit of using powder is that it is very easy to use. Raw garlic must be minced or crushed. This takes time and keeping it a minute too long on the hot pan can change the taste. Powder, on the other hand, typically tastes the same each time it is used.
Garlic powder vs. granulated garlic. The primary difference between garlic powder and granulated garlic is in the size of the small pieces. The powder has smaller pieces. Granulated has larger pieces. Apparently, powder garlic has a shorter shelf life than granulated garlic. Which you choose to use really comes down to personal preference. Use powder in dishes where you don’t want the garlic to be seen, and you want the flavor to be fully infused into whatever you’re cooking. Use granulated garlic in stir-fry or a rub for meat which will give it a more distinctive garlic flavor.
Use powdered garlic when you don't really want the garlic to be visible, and you want the flavor to be fully infused into whatever you're cooking. This may include homemade soups, stews, salad dressings, and macaroni and cheese. Simply open the bottle of dried garlic and sprinkle into or onto what you are cooking. Raw, fresh garlic can have a dominating flavor. Garlic powder typically adds a subtle garlic fullness of flavor and has the potential to make the meal taste better. Use garlic powder when lots of heat is involved in the cooking proces. Raw, fresh garlic has a tendency to burn when heated in the cooking process. When grilling a meat steak or frying chicken it’s much easier to use powder. Yes, garlic powder can still burn, but it is less likely to do so than fresh. The "powder" salt-like texture of garlic powder makes it perfect for spice rubs. Also, dry powder is much more easily dispersed as compared to fresh, minced garlic. Use garlic powder when creating a spice blend for barbecue.
Use fresh garlic when you really want your cooked dish to sing! If you’ve ever tasted old, bitter garlic, you’ll appreciate fresh garlic’s vibrant flavor and juiciness. Stored in a cool, dark, well-vented place, fresh garlic from the ground can store for months. Fresh garlic is full of oils and moisture that it cooks quickly compared to older garlic. Use low heat and pay close attention to the color of the garlic. Don't let it get scorched or turn brown or black. There are four basic methods of cooking fresh, hardneck garlic. Roasting, Simmering, Stewing and adding garlic when sautéing or frying other foods.
Roasting Garlic: Whole fresh garlic is the best for roasting. We find that the Porcelain variety (Music, Rosewood, Ivan Luna) all are excellent for roasting. Begin by removing any loose outer skins from the head and cutting off the top to expose the cloves. Set in a baking dish or on foil, drizzle with olive oil, and roast at 325 - 350° Fahrenheit until the cloves are tender. This will take approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Squeeze the cloves out when they’re cool enough to handle.
Simmer Garlic: Simmering fresh hardneck garlic in olive oil is a lovely experience, because it yields soft, buttery cloves and a bonus of garlic-infused oil. Place whole, peeled hardneck garlic cloves in a pan with a thick bottom (a heavy pan), add olive oil to cover and simmer very gently over low heat until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
Stewing Garlic: Begin by baking or simmering garlic cloves in a mixture of water or stock, covered, until tender. Use them whole or puree them all at once in a food processor. This method yields garlic with a slightly more assertive, less mellow flavor.
Using Fresh Garlic when Sautéing or Frying foods: To sauté garlic, add 1-2 tbsp olive oil to your frying pan and preheat it on medium to medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Toss in the garlic and cook, stirring, for 15 to 30 seconds. You know that the garlic is done when it's released its perfume into the air in your kitchen and when its color turns golden yellow, but not dark brown. Try adding fresh garlic after other ingredients have given off moisture. Try incorporating fresh garlic after cooking. Thin slices of hardneck garlic are good for sautéing slowly in olive oil. They make a great garnish for sautéed greens like kale and spinach. Experiment using a rasp-style grater to grate garlic rather than mincing it. Try grinding garlic cloves in a mortar with a pinch of kosher salt, which yields a purée that’s perfect for adding to rustic sauces.
Making your Own Powdered Garlic !!
Here at GROeat Farm, hidden in the foothills of the Hyalite Mountains, we create and use on a regular basis, four (4) different "Garlic Powders". All of them are easy to make, except for #4. Our spice rack includes 1. Dried and Powdered Fresh Garlic Cloves, fresh from the harvest. 2. Roasted Garlic Cloves, dried and powdered. 3. Dried and Powdered Garlic Scapes and 4. Dried and Powdered Black Garlic. Each of these four garlic powders begins with fresh, hardneck garlic cloves, removed from the garlic bulb and peeled. We typically use hardneck porcelain varities such as Music, Rosewood and Ivan Luna.
You can easily make your own "hardneck" powdered garlic by dehydrating hardneck garlic cloves, and blending them using a coffee grinder or blender. Begin by growing your own hardneck garlic, or purchasing the garlic from a garlic farmer. Separate the cloves from the bulb and place them in a dehydrator until they are dry. Keep the temperature of the dehydrator at 130 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Place the dried cloves in a blender or coffee grinder. Here is a video that shows how to make onion powder, ginger powder, and garlic powder.