Adding a small dash of garlic powder is a great way to kick up the flavor of pretty much any meal — but there’s an easy way to make it taste even better.
You may be familiar with the technique of blooming spices and seasonings in a pan with oil or butter in order to enhance their flavor. Well, garlic powder is the opposite. According to Cook’s Illustrated, doing so or even adding the granules to a dish too soon can completely neutralize the deliciously pungent taste. Instead, we can bring out more garlicky goodness by rehydrating the powder with a little water.
Their test kitchen came to this conclusion after trying out a few batches of mashed potatoes: One that had garlic powder added in as is, one that bloomed the garlic powder in a pan with butter first, and another where they added an equal amount of water to the amount of garlic powder before mixing it in with the potatoes.
Using the powder on its own had a harsh garlic taste most of us are probably familiar with: It’s not bad, but not the best. Meanwhile, the bloomed powder became totally bland. The garlic and water, however, provided a fuller, more complex taste.
“Garlic develops flavor when its cells are ruptured, releasing an odorless sulfur-containing amino acid called alliin and the enzyme alliinase,” the website explains. “These two react to produce the primary flavor component in garlic: allicin.”
Heating the powder too soon bypasses the ability to create that reaction. Although they claim the allicin is able to form when added to a dish with natural moisture, like the potatoes, it won’t be quite as rich as it could be.
So, with all of that in mind, they recommend hydrating garlic powder with an equal amount of water any time you plan to use it. For example, one teaspoon of powder with one teaspoon of water. After that, you can sauté it in butter or oil with your other ingredients per usual.
This is a genius way to enjoy all the garlicky flavor we love without having to worry about getting that aroma all over our hands while peeling fresh bulbs!