Can I Eat Sprouting Garlic?

Published: 19th January 2008
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The Phenomenon of Sprouting Garlic

Many of us like to cook, and eating garlic seems to go hand in hand with healthy living. Unless you buy it in small quantities at the farmer's market every week, you end up getting several cloves all at once. If you don't use it for a little while, or if it's old when you purchase it, then you'll eventually begin to see green shoots sprouting out of the tops of some of the cloves. So what does sprouting garlic mean?

What to Make of Sprouting Garlic

Sprouts tend to be good for you to eat - alfalfa sprouts, bean sprouts and onion sprouts all have plenty of health benefits. But what about garlic? Most people tend to follow the direction of either culture or parenting when it comes to this subject. Namely, either their culture has dictated that some dishes work well with the sprouted garlic, or else you saw your mother picking the garlic sprout out before using the clove, and made your decision that way.

Is Sprouting Garlic Safe to Eat?

Some may have heard that it is unwise or unsafe to eat garlic that has begun sprouting. A bit of investigating around cooking chat rooms will show the casually interested that plenty of people have eaten it and despite the bitterness of the taste, they've lived to talk about it.

In my kitchen, if there is only a small amount of the green shoot growing from the garlic clove, I remove it and use the garlic like always. If the sprout is larger, or if there are blemishes in the clove, darkening, squishiness or a funky smell (beyond the normal one), then I dispose of it altogether.

Some cooks say that the sprout in the garlic clove is indigestible, and that you should remove it before using the garlic. This is easy to do. Using a paring knife, you simply cut the clove in half length-wise, and remove the shoot from the center of both sides. Some cultures around the globe use the garlic sprout in dishes, so aside from the bitterness, consider giving it a taste and decide for yourself.

If you are going to boil the garlic, then you can probably leave the sprout in tact. The process of boiling the cloves will remove the bitter taste.

What Else Can I Do With Garlic That Has Sprouted?

It never hurts to try planting the sprouting cloves, in the ground or in a pot so the green tips are just a little below the soil line. After a while, you should end up with new bulbs to use, provided you properly look after them. You can roast the entire head of garlic and make a spread, or peel and mash the cloves, freezing them for later. Or consider using the green garlic sprouts in a recipe, perhaps a stir fry with other vegetables.

Find more excellent tips on eating healthy, the environment and green living at the green blog: Green Eggs and Planet


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