Editor's note: You may recognize Donna Currie as our yeast whisperer; now she's adding gadgets to her repertoire with weekly reviews of home and kitchen helpers.
We all know what a garlic press is: a device that smashes garlic through small holes so you end up with bits of mashed garlic. While there are times when that's what you want, it's really not the same thing as mincing garlic. When you mince garlic with a knife, you have sharp cuts instead of smashed garlic. It's like the difference between smashed potatoes and cubed potatoes.
Oh, if only there were a magical kitchen tool that could cut garlic instead of mashing it!
Ah, but there is. Enter the Microplane Garlic Mincer ($24.95). Instead of smashing garlic through small holes, the mincer pushes it through a sharp grid, then a blade chops the pieces off into teeny-tiny garlic cubes.
Of course, since the garlic isn't perfectly square going in, you'll have pieces that aren't perfectly square coming out. The larger the garlic cloves, the more cubes you'll get and the fewer odd shapes. (Then again, you're not going to get perfect squares with a knife, either) Do I need perfectly square cubes of garlic? Probably not. But it was endlessly fascinating to squeeze the trigger and watch the garlic cubes pile up.
The mincer is easy to use: just drop the peeled garlic into the chute and squeeze the trigger. The chute fits between three to five cloves of garlic, depending on their size and shape and how far you jam them in.
Cleanup was relatively easy. All of the pieces can be washed in the dishwasher. The only problem was that getting the metal grid out was tough the first few times. I suppose you don't really need to remove that piece for cleaning, but it does make it easier to get the last odd bits cleaned out.
I'll have to admit that I'm a big fan of Microplane products. I love the graters; I have a few of them. This mincer is well designed and it does what it's supposed to do, but it's not exactly an essential tool. If you're adept with a knife, you might not need something like this.
On the other hand, if you hate mincing garlic as much as you hate the mashed garlic that comes out of a garlic press, this might be a handy thing to have. It's also kid-friendly, if you have kids who want to help in the kitchen. And did I mention that it's endlessly fascinating watching the garlic cubes pile up?
Disclaimer: Testing samples were provided to Serious Eats.