Friday, April 24, 2015

Is Sprouted Garlic Safe to Eat?

Sprouted garlic ~ cut in half with sprout removed
Garlic is one of the world's most popular ingredients. It consists of several small cloves gathered around a stem, surrounded by a papery skin and in a bulb form. Garlic stores best in a cool, dark place with good air circulation. It is best in a breathable container rather than airtight plastic. If garlic is refrigerated, it will deteriorate quickly and attempt to sprout when you bring it back to room temperature. 
Cooks appreciate its long term storage however, the cloves are how the garlic reproduces, so it will sprout in the spring. Those bright green shoots emerging from a head of garlic don't mean it has gone 'bad' and eating it won't make you sick... it is perfectly safe. The only time I would throw garlic out is if the cloves are yellow, mushy and smell bad or are totally dried out.  

Here are a few ways to use sprouted garlic;
1) Use it as normal ~if the sprout is small and the clove is still firm, chop the sprout with the clove and use as usual. Some people say these small shoots can be bitter and will impart their off flavor into whatever you are cooking, though I have never found this to be so.

2) Remove the sprout ~ if you do not want the sprout and the rest of the bulb is firm and smells like good, fresh garlic; peel the cloves as you normally would, and slice each one lengthwise down the middle. The green shoot will be visible and is simple to remove; grasp it by the top and pull it out. Use the remaining clove as you normally would. If you have a large amount of last year's garlic in storage that are starting to sprout; peel the cloves, remove the sprout and discard. Freeze the remaining cloves in a zip-type baggie. Remove cloves from the freezer and prepare as needed for use in recipes.

Growing Fresh Garlic Sprouts ~ Day 4
3) Grow fresh garlic sprouts in your kitchen window  ~use a clear bowl or small cup so you can watch the roots grow and see when the water needs to be changed. Place sprouted cloves (or whole bulb) in the cup and add just enough water to cover the bottom of the cup and just touch the bottom of the cloves. DO NOT submerge the cloves or the water will become cloudy and smelly and the cloves will start to rot... not good. After a few days the garlic will quickly produce roots. It is a good idea to change the water when it looks cloudy or every few days, no soil is needed. When the shoots are about 3 inches tall you can begin harvesting garlic sprouts. Try not to remove more than 1/3 of the growing blades. If left alone, they will grow about 10 inches in height. Two inches of a sprouts blades will give about a tablespoon of chopped fresh sprouts. Cutting the the main sprout back down to the clove will not produce more shoots. Eat fresh chopped garlic sprouts on top of baked potatoes, green salads, pasta salads, in dips or as a garnish for hummus or guacamole.   

4) Plant it! ~take them outside and place the bulb sprout side up in the dirt and push them down until the bulb is covered all the way. Put them in flower boxes or pots, among flowers and vegetables. They grow easily and fast. Leave them in place long enough and a new head will form.

Till next week... Bon Appetit!

Photos by Sally Rae

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