You’ll find garlic in most kitchens. It’s a staple seasoning in even the most basic of kitchen setups. Whether it be in the form of a powder, bulbs, or pre-peeled cloves in the fridge, the question remains: how much is a clove of garlic? Making sure your measurements are correctly assessed first will help you determine how much is a clove of garlic. Also, what form you deliver it in and how/when it cooks into your dish will also make a big difference.
How Much Is a Clove of Garlic?
A single clove of garlic is a component of a larger bulb of garlic. Each clove snaps together to form the overall bulb or bulbs that you buy in the grocery store. Usually, adding in more than a few cloves will make whatever you’re preparing ‘a little too garlic-y.’ But if you’re preparing in bulk, this could be a different story.
The important thing to remember is that a typical garlic clove weighs about three grams, and, when minced, this equals about one teaspoon. If you want tablespoons on the other hand, it will be about three cloves per tablespoon.
Recipes that require even more garlic will mean paying even more attention to your proportions. Garlic bread involves spreading the garlic you’ve minced across the top of the bread itself. Curry paste and Lebanese garlic paste require even higher concentrations of minced garlic.
Then again, if you’re making a skillet dish or roasted chicken that requires simply throwing in the cloves themselves, you may be using a half or whole bulb, depending on how long the dish will be in the oven or on the stove top. But how can there be so many different levels of garlic concentration for all of the dishes we’ve just mentioned?
Traditions and the Tastes They’ve Created
Garlic has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Societal evolution has taught us that the cultures that have remained healthy, thriving, and vital have been the ones that have survived. In many cases over the centuries, this has meant that these populations were able to survive things like plagues and pandemics.
Because garlic is a natural anti-bacterial and anti-viral, it’s likely that those who used it the most survived and had kids that continued their generational line. This in turn caused certain garlic containing foods to be propagated and passed down as tradition as the years passed. This is why you get so much garlic and ginger paste in Indian recipes. Ginger is another potent anti-viral. It’s also why garlic is so prevalent in Italian-American cuisine.
Even so, enjoying the dining experience is crucial to living a full and happy life. Also built into these dishes is the right amount to use so that the taste is pleasant and doesn’t overpower the other components of the meal. To that end, we will now include a series of fantastic garlic dishes and how to make sure that just the right amount of garlic is used.
The Italian Tradition
In Italy, garlic is used to a lesser degree than in the traditionally American dishes that have formed in reverence to this Mediterranean country. In their case, the cloves themselves are primarily simmered into olive oil but then promptly removed so that the flavor does not overpower. Historically in Italy, these bulbs were more often used in the southern half of the country and commonly served to the poor and underclasses. But you can still find Italians asking, ‘how much is a clove of garlic,’ when deciding how much to add and in understanding the finer points of a meal’s course timing.
So what can you make that’s authentically Italian and utilizes garlic? Try making the national dish of Italy, which is ragù alla bolognese. In many of these recipes, the garlic component is left in clove form, added, and then removed to avoid over-powering the other components of the dish.
The Chinese Tradition
In China, garlic enjoys widespread use in the northern regions and is a staple of Szechuan cooking. Garlic also plays a prominent role in Chinese herbal medicine and has been employed there since ancient times. Even now, studies are being done on the prevalence of lung cancer in the Chinese population.
In an industrial country like this you may be surprised to know that cancer rates amongst the Chinese that consume garlic actually tends to decrease. So for the highest producing country of garlic in the world, how much is a clove of garlic is just as much an economical question as it is a consumptive one.
So what’s a traditional Chinese dish that uses garlic that you can make today? A great example here is a garlic-broccoli stir-fry. In this dish, the quantity of garlic used is 4-5 cloves, and these cloves are peeled and finely chopped to be added in. Here, they infuse with the broccoli itself. Broccoli is another incredible food with a variety of health benefits.
The Indian Tradition
Garlic is hugely prevalent in Indian cooking, though there are two schools of thought on this. In some segments of India, mainly among the devotees of Krishna and Bhakti yoga, garlic is considered to be a harmful substance in terms of spirituality. In this realm, how much is a clove of garlic to human health and wellness is a matter of debate. This doesn’t keep garlic from maintaining a staple-like status amongst other segments of the population, and many curries contain large amounts of garlic, ginger, and turmeric.
So how do you create a curry paste that mixes just the right amount of each substance? Well, for a paste that can be used both as an addition to dishes, or even to spread on toast, the proportions are as follows: two garlic cloves, peeled, a pinch of salt, three stalks of ginger, and three to five bird’s eye chilis (depending on your preferred level of spice). You can either blend these together in a food processor, or tenderize them with a pestle and mortar before heating them in oil. From here, the paste can either be stored for later or used immediately in a larger dish.
Greek/Middle Eastern Traditions
Garlic also has a prominent place in these two traditions, as well. How much is a clove of garlic, and how long of a way it goes in each tradition varies. The making of hummus itself has enjoyed worldwide popularity. This is because of its protein packed chickpea ingredient, as well as its combination of healthy oils, and, of course, garlic. Depending on which tradition you choose to start from, there will be different levels of garlic used.
There will also be differing levels of another crucial hummus element: tahini. This will ultimately be up to you and your preferred taste, of course. As far as the quantities of garlic are concerned, the Greek tradition uses a little less in a typical batch of humus (between one and three cloves) whereas in the Middle Eastern tradition a little more garlic is used (between three and five cloves).
The Korean Tradition
In Korea, garlic is consumed fervently. In fact, pickled garlic is consumed regularly as a side dish. In this case, the answer to ‘how much is a clove of garlic’ is answered in consumptive terms: one bite. But how much garlic is used in a typical batch, and how does the pickling process work?
In this case, a whole pound of garlic is used. This means we’re not measuring in cloves any more but in whole bulbs. To achieve a pound of garlic, eight or nine whole bulbs must be used. The cloves are still peeled and washed to make sure the process is executed properly.
Then you simmer a combination of 1/3 cup of rice wine vinegar with 1/3 cup of sugar and a cup of soy sauce for about 10 minutes. Once this is done, you store what you’ve simmered with a mixture of water and garlic in a large jar.
The jar contains the garlic cloves and water, filled so that the garlic and water combined make up about 2/3 of the jar’s capacity. Once the mixture you’ve simmered is added, you store this jar at room temperature for about three weeks. It’s important to note that the mixture you’ve created covers the cloves completely and that after it’s made, it’s stored in the refrigerator. And there you have it: Korean pickled garlic.
We hope this article has allowed you to think about quantities of garlic in a different light. This way the next time you ask, ‘how much is a clove of garlic,’ the answer will be based on the objectives of what you’re creating. You could think in terms of price, weight, health, or other values. And remember to have fun with it. Exploring the world’s garlic traditions and the quantities used is an enlightening experience.