To maintain the flavor of garlic in foods while toning down its pungency, cook garlic cloves whole before using them in recipes. Place cloves that are not pierced, crushed or cut into a pan and saute them over the stove. Alternatively, whole garlic cloves become milder when roasted in the oven. Cooking is the best way to neutralize the enzymes in garlic responsible for its strong flavor.
Slow roasting whole garlic cloves in the oven is a great way to tone down their flavor from strong to mild. The sulfur in garlic increasingly breaks down the longer it cooks. The result is a mild sweet and nutty flavor that tastes pleasant when added to foods. For example, mashing roasted garlic and potatoes together creates a tasty dish. A good rule of thumb for garlic is that piercing a clove always releases the strongest aroma and flavor. Therefore, only add cut or chopped garlic to foods when a stronger garlic flavor is highly desired.
Cooks control the level of raw garlic pungency by choosing the amount of time it cooks. For instance, saute garlic for a minute or two to take away some of its sharpness while leaving the majority of its flavor.