A garlic press is a tool that people use to press or cut garlic to extract the juice from it. It contains holes from where the oils and fluids get extracted. You can drop a clove of garlic into the best garlic press, with holes in the bottom, and squeeze the handles together, like a pair of pliers. The garlic will be crushed and squeezed out through the little holes. Garlic juices might very well squirt all over the place (including into your eyes). The latter effect depends a lot on the specific construction of the press. Some are better about it than others.
Then you take a knife or something and try to scrape off the second half of the clove that still clings to the bottom of the press. Then you repeat that process. Until the holes in the press are clogged up, at which point you start to scrape, wash, blow, whatever it takes, the remaining bits of garlic skin and garlic out of the press so you can continue.
Cleaning Is Essential After Each Use
If you should forget to clean it immediately after use, you might want to consider just dumping it. Trying to get dried garlic out of there is quite the chore.
There are (or were, at least) more sensibly and robustly constructed models, but they usually involve at least one small removable part and are not all that much easier to clean.
The Best Garlic Press: Using Them
Each way, you need to peel the garlic first.
1. With a pestle and mortar, if you have a good one. This is very effective if you have the skill and patience.
2. With a large sharp knife and a chopping board. Lay the blade of the knife flat on one clove of garlic, and then bang your fist onto the edge. Repeat for each clove. This will crush the garlic; you then have to chop it into tiny pieces by rocking the knife on the chopping board, taking advantage of the slight curvature of the blade. This is slower and not quite as effective as the other methods.
3. With an excellent garlic crusher. All these consist of a small receptacle with a grid or grating at the bottom. They are something like a piston that goes down into the repository and handles and a fulcrum to give you leverage.
One of my regular dishes needs eight to 20 cloves of crushed garlic, and a suitable garlic crusher is (IMHO) the quickest and easiest way to get them. There are two main differences between the right garlic crushers and the rest:
A. How well they crush. Most of them have too much clearance between the edge of the piston and the walls of the receptacle. As a result, a substantial amount of the garlic doesn’t get pressed through the grating but comes up around the edges.
B. How easy they are to clean. The best ones are designed so the grating unfolds so it can be scraped free of any accumulation of fibrous garlic and to make it easy to wash afterward.