Garlic is an allium species that belongs to the lily family and is closely related to shallots, onions, and chives. It grows underground in the form of a garlic bulb, also called a head, which is composed of individual sections called cloves. The entire head and the cloves are covered with thin layers of inedible, papery skin. \n\nFrom a culinary standpoint, [garlic](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/all-about-garlic-benefits-and-uses-plus-easy-roasted-garlic-recipe) is a common ingredient in savory dishes and condiments—such as in garlic butter or a garlicky hummus—and can add immense flavor to meats and veggies. While it’s necessary to peel garlic cloves before you eat them, you can [roast](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-roast-garlic-to-perfection) whole heads of garlic without first removing the papery coverings.\nPeeling garlic involves removing the skin from the outer layer of the entire head of garlic and from each individual clove. You may find that one garlic peeling method is more convenient for you and provides the right amount of garlic, depending on whether you need a whole bulb of garlic or simply a few cloves of garlic. Here are four ways to peel garlic fast: \n\n1. __Mince the garlic with a garlic press__. A garlic press is a small gadget that lets you pop in unpeeled individual garlic cloves and squeeze them (one at a time) through the small openings in the press. This method creates very finely minced garlic but can also be messy, as it squeezes out the garlic juice.\n2. __Smash the garlic with a knife__. Place a clove of garlic on a cutting board and press the flat side of a knife against the clove. Tap the heel of your palm against the flat side of the knife until you have smashed the garlic clove slightly. Now you should be able to remove the partially flattened clove from its layer of skin. \n3. __Peel the garlic by hand__. Use a paring knife to first cut off the root end of the garlic clove and then manually peel away the garlic skin.\n4. __Shake the garlic in mixing bowls__. Some people call this garlic peeling trick the “shaking method.” First, find two similarly sized mixing bowls to execute this garlic peeling hack. Next, gently crush a head of garlic (or several individual garlic cloves) using the heel of your hand. Finally, place the garlic in a mixing bowl, cover it with another mixing bowl, and shake everything vigorously until the garlic’s skin releases.\nGarlic flavor is strongest immediately after you’ve peeled it, but you can store peeled, fresh garlic in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about seven days. A glass mason jar is ideal because glass does not absorb the garlic odor. Storing large quantities of peeled garlic cloves this way can facilitate meal prep for home cooks who plan to use a lot of garlic over the course of a week.\nBecome a better chef with the [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com). Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by the world’s best, including Chef Thomas Keller, Gabriela Cámara, Yotam Ottolenghi, Dominique Ansel, Gordon Ramsay, Alice Waters, and more.\nLearn how to peel garlic using your hands or a variety of gadgets that can make the task less messy and more convenient.