Q: I've noticed that experienced chefs often cook with garlic and onion. I love the taste of both, but how can you remove the smell from your hands after chopping? Even with repeated washings, it seems the smell lingers for several days, which deters me from using them.
--Karen Troutman, Memphis, TN
The pungency of garlic and onions that makes them so irreplaceable in cooking is not so welcome afterward, when the odor clings to your hands -- often even after you've scrubbed them repeatedly with soap. Luckily, there are two easy ways to minimize any lingering smell. The first is simply to avoid touching the ingredients as you prepare them. Wear plastic gloves to slice an onion, and since most contact with garlic comes while peeling it, use a garlic skinner to remove the outer skin. Rather than mincing garlic with a paring knife, you can use a garlic mincer, so you'll hardly need to touch the cloves at all.
If you do find your hands smelling of garlic or onion after cooking with them, rub your hands on a piece of stainless steel while running them under warm water. Kitchenware stores often sell square- or oval-shaped blocks of stainless steel for this purpose, but the bowl of a ladle or large spoon works equally well.