Almost all of our favorite recipes start with the same step: sautéing garlic. If you cook frequently, you should always have a head of garlic on hand. This fragrant allium creates an aromatic base that’s the perfect launching pad for building sauces, soups, stews, or roasts. Learning how to peel and mince garlic properly will make all of your cooking projects easier.

Your local supermarket probably has a few garlicky options waiting for you. Our advice is to steer clear of the aisles selling jars and tubes of pre-peeled and minced cloves. Stick to the outer walls, where grocery stores typically stock fresh produce, whole onions, and, of course, whole heads of garlic. If you’re a Blue Apron subscriber, you’ll receive a whole head of fresh garlic in your box.

Once you get your garlic home, it’s time to peel. Start by breaking the head apart into cloves. The next step depends on how you plan to use your garlic. If you’re looking for perfect whole cloves, you can use your fingers to carefully peel the papery skin off of each segment. If you’re planning to mince the garlic after it’s peeled, use the flat side of a chef’s knife to flatten the clove. This will loosen the skin and start breaking the garlic apart. Watch our chef demonstrate this technique in the video below.

Once you’ve removed the skin, the hardest part of your job is done. To mince garlic, start by using a chef’s knife to create thin slices. If any slices stick to your knife, just scrape them off and place them back on the cutting board. Once you have a small pile of slices, use a rocking motion to run your knife back and forth between the slices to chop them into smaller pieces, as our chef does below.

These two simple skills are the key to hundreds (or thousands? millions?) of recipes. If you’re looking for an excuse to get chopping, try making our favorite garlic bread.