When I was growing up my mother only used granulated garlic and onion, never the real thing. I was so deprived. When I became a Pampered Chef consultant I started using more fresh ingredients and learned what real flavor is. Not that I don’t use the granulated garlic and onion but when possible fresh is best.
Unfortunately, using fresh onions and garlic comes with new issues such as crying from onion fumes, the smell on your hands, the smell in your refrigerator and getting those skins off the garlic. I am going to give you some ideas that have worked for me in to minimize these issues.
I rarely have issues cutting onions (it is my understanding that this is because I wear contact lenses which create a barrier between the onion vapors and my eyes). I know that many people, however, are reduced to tears. Humbly and DD both hate cutting onions to the point that Humbly bought onion goggles which make him look silly but keep him from crying like a little girl when he cooks.
There are many helpful hints on how you can keep the tears at bay such as chopping on the stove with your overhead vent on or lighting a candle while you are chopping but these all have mixed reviews. The ones that I have heard that work best are using the overhead vent, cutting under running water (sounds dangerous) and soaking your onion in water for 15 minutes before cutting (just lop off ends and peel first) but those last two will result in a milder tasting onion. To me this is an undesirable result. I like my onions potent.
So then what do I recommend? Put a fan in your kitchen that blows from behind you so that the fumes are blown away from you. Turn it on before you start, turn it off when you are finished. Voila! No more tears.
Smell on your hands
After working with onions and garlic you may notice that for days afterward your hands carry the memory of the vegetables that gave their lives so your dinner could be flavorful. Now I like the smell of onion and garlic but after a day or so it starts smelling sour. So what do you do to get the smell off? When I am cutting onions for salsa I make sure to squeeze the lime in at the end and I do it by hand (instead of my Citrus Press). The acid in the lime (or lemon) will wash the smell right off.
When I am not going to be using any citrus I wash my hands well after my chopping and then rub them on the stainless steel faucet of the sink which does the same thing. It removes that smell. Added bonus, you clean the faucet as well. Once you are done just give it a quick dry and it is all shiny.
They do make stainless steel soap, and I have bought one. It lasts forever and works like a champ.
Smell in your fridge
If you cut up more onion than you need and put the rest in the refrigerator then every time you open the fridge all you will smell is onion. The best way I have found to prevent this is to put the cut onion into a mason jar. The smell stays captured in the jar. There are two disadvantages to this. First, you need to use up the onions quicker because they do over ripen very quickly this way. And second, prepare yourself when you go to open the jar. Because the smell is captured it becomes quite remarkable when you do open the jar. This would be a good time to light a candle or turn on that fan.
Taking the skin off the garlic
If you need a lot of garlic the best thing to do is whack the garlic with the heal of your hand to break it into cloves and then put it into a quart mason jar. Put the lid on and shake vigorously (it will be noisy but this is great exercise). After maybe 30 seconds, open the jar and pour out the peeled garlic and all the garlic paper.
If you only need a couple of cloves then I highly recommend the Pampered Chef Garlic Peeler. This little piece of silicone is magic. All you have to do is pop a few cloves into the Garlic Peeler and roll it back and forth over a hard surface until you hear a crinkly sound. Then dump it back out and the peels are removed.