Product Type: EPC Spices & Seasoning
Newest Review: ... that you're going to end up with garlic smelling fingers for a few hours. And this is where the EPC Very Lazy Garlic product really comes i... more
Give Garlic the Chop
EPC Very Lazy Garlic
Member Name: cmh4135
EPC Very Lazy Garlic
Date: 28/02/08, updated on 03/03/08 (98 review reads)
Advantages: Fuss and mess free way to add garlic
Disadvantages: Slight vinegar taint and firm, edgy pieces not suitable for all dishes
Garlic is one of those larder/store cupboard staples that I wouldn't be without. Its addition to certain foods can really perk them up and its use with others can even be a main flavour. It's not without it's problems though. Although garlic keeps well it can be a pain to prepare. Cleaning presses can be a chore, few of us have the nifty knife skills to really finely chop a clove or six and then there's the smell that lingers on your hands. All in all, if someone came up with an easier way to do it you'd go for it, right?
There are alternatives but few manage to add that "fresh garlic" taste. Garlic salt is often used but this really does add salt and is really hard to get right. Dried garlic just doesn't do the business and you're more likely to get a sawdust texture to your food than a fresh garlic flavour. Garlic paste is OK if you want to add to a bolognaise or other saucy dish but it's not going to get a stir fry, Kiev or similar dish going. If only someone would do the prep for us....
Well, they do, and "they" come from many different companies. The English Provender Company (or EPC) have long been producing pickles and preserves and, a few years ago, made the move to "lazy" ingredients. This Lazy range comprises pre-prepared basic ingredients to take the hassle out of cooking. You can get garlic, ginger, chillies (red and green) and even caramelized onions together, rather oddly, with two sweet offerings, a chocolate sauce and a raspberry coulis (neither of which I would say are worth buying!).
So, is the Lazy way a good way for once?
I'll give it a reserved, "yes".
The garlic in the jar is fairly finely chopped and is stored in wine vinegar. In theory the vinegar will evaporate during cooking so that there will be no acidic taint. Whilst this might be the case for some methods of cooking I don't find that the vinegar always goes and, if you have a delicately balanced dish the vinegar taste can remain. It's fine for hearty dishes though. If you can get rid of the vinegar taste (or don't mind it) then the flavour of the garlic is fresh and almost true to a completely fresh clove. A suggestion that I have seen before is to wash the garlic under the tap before adding it - now, I might be splitting hairs here, but if I'm going to go through that faff I might as well chop the garlic myself!
If I'm honest I don't much like the texture of the chopped garlic. There' s something a little too uniform and edgy about it and, if using in a dish where there is a predominant garlic flavour the texture might just give away the fact that you've cheated. It tends to be firmer than hand cut or pressed garlic.
The producers suggest that one teaspoon is equivalent to one clove of garlic. Now, at least in my house, garlic has never been an exact science. Some cloves are bigger than others, some more pungent. I'd say that a teaspoon was the equivalent of a large clove of fairly mild garlic (the sort that doesn't make you wince as you chop it!). If you like your garlic strong then you'll need to use more BUT remember that the texture may well give you away.
The jar of chopped garlic will keep for up to 12 weeks in a fridge once it has been opened. Personally this is just about long enough for me but I'll also confess to using it after this time with no real degradation of results. As a result you'll often find a jar of this in the door of my fridge... or, to be more precise, a competitors product.
You see, I think that both M&S and Waitrose own versions of this are superior. I find the garlic less firm and edgy in texture. The vinegar is also, to my mind, less apparent.
Of course this cheats ingredient is not suitable for all uses. You'll not manage to recreate the sweet taste of roasted garlic with this and you can't be that subtle with it (for one the chunks remain, for two it's quite hard to get a delicate flavour with it, it seems to be all or none). Still, it saves on washing up and smelly hands. It won't cure smelly breath though!
Whichever version you go for expect to pay between £1.50 and £1.75 for a jar in February 2008. This compares quite favourably with fresh garlic and so I don't think it too overpriced.
EPC have just received a boost too from Delia, two of their Lazy ingredients (although not the garlic) have been mentioned in her latest "How to Cheat" book.... Expect the shelves to be bare within weeks!
Summary: A cook's helper but not a panacea