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?
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 culture has dictated that some dishes work well with the sprouted garlic, or else you saw your mother picking the sprout out before using the clove, and made your decision that way.
Is it 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 clove, I remove it and use the clove like always. If the sprout is larger, or if there are blemishes, darkening, squishiness or a funky smell (beyond the normal one), then I dispose of it altogether.
Some cooks say that the sprout is indigestible, and that you should remove it before using the bulb. 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 use the sprouts 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 it?
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 and make a spread, or peel and mash the cloves, freezing them for later. Or consider using the green sprouts in a recipe, perhaps a stir fry with other vegetables.