Garlic is one of the most universally beloved seasonings. Almost every single food culture makes use of it. It is so popular that there are many people who refuse to believe that you can use too much of it. However, the reality is that garlic’s flavor is intense and can overpower the other flavors in a dish. In some cases, excessive garlic or garlic powder can even make your food bitter. In order to tone garlic flavor down, there are certain steps that you can use.
Dilute the garlic or garlic powder
The easiest solution is to dilute the dish that you are making. You can do this by making another batch and adding it to the batch that has too much garlic. This should reduce the concentration of garlic flavor and make the dish palatable again. If this seems too drastic, just add a little of all the ingredients that are not garlic and taste after each addition until you achieve your desired flavor balance.
Raise the temperature
Garlic’s distinctive pungency comes from a molecule called allicin, which is produced by an enzyme called alliinase when the cell walls of the garlic are ruptured. You can significantly reduce garlic’s intensity by neutralizing alliinase. The way to do this is with heat. By cooking garlic at temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, you can deactivate alliinase and mellow out an overpowering garlic flavor.
Add a lot of onion
What you will be doing here is adding another concentrated flavor to the mix, so this might not be for you if you are not a fan of highly flavored foods. In sufficient quantities, onion has a strong enough flavor to mask the garlic flavor to a certain extent. The flavor of onion is also an excellent complement for that of garlic.
Add some aromatic herbs
Herbs are another good way to mask the flavor of garlic. Fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, and basil can help to counteract the flavor of excess garlic; however, you will want to use them in moderation. Too much can make a dish bitter. Add your herbs in small amounts and taste after each addition.
Physically remove the garlic
If your garlic was added in the form of whole cloves or chopped into large pieces, physical removal will be quite easy. Remove the pieces as soon as you realize that you have added too much.
Add a creamy ingredient
Creamy ingredients include dairy products like half-and-half, which you can use to make a cream sauce. There are also non-dairy ingredients like coconut milk, which are perfect for curries and other Southeastern Asian dishes. Regardless of which creamy ingredient you use, it can help to dilute the garlic and lessen its pungency to make your dish more palatable.
Add an acidic ingredient
The tartness of an ingredient like lemon or lime juice, or even vinegar can draw attention away from garlic’s intensity. Which acidic ingredient and how much you use will depend on the dish that you are making and your own preference. The key is to use it in moderation to keep from making your dish too sour.
Use a sweetener
Too much sautéed garlic can give your dish a bitter taste. The best way to counteract the bitterness is with something sweet. A sweetener like honey or sugar can work in some dishes that include garlic, but should be used carefully to keep the dish from becoming unpleasantly sweet.