Garlic is a workhorse in the kitchen as it’s used in endless recipes, but sometimes a small green sprout emerges from the center of a clove. Learn why this happens, if it’s safe to eat, and what to do next.
You’re preparing all the ingredients for your recipe, and you grab a few cloves of garlic. You begin to remove the papery skin, then everything comes to a screeching halt. There’s something green hiding inside when it’s cut open or even worse, shooting straight out of the clove that can’t be ignored.
Although the pesky sprouted cloves are annoying to deal with, taking a minute or two longer to remove is worth the extra effort for the taste of the final product. Let’s explore why these appear, and how to swiftly remove them so you can keep cooking.
Are garlic sprouts safe to eat?
Yes, the good news is that these bright green shoots are safe to eat, but there are trade-offs. The sprouts have a stronger bitter flavor that can be more noticeable in delicate foods like aioli, mayonnaise or salad dressing.
If garlic is the star of the dish and is going to be cooked, you may be able to get away with a little bit of the green minced up for things like stir-fries or hearty braises. The bitter notes are best balanced with something sweet, so if the dish has both of those flavors, it’s less intrusive to add it in.
An easy way to remove the green sprout
Simply cut the garlic in half lengthwise and then use your finger to pull out the green sprout. Discard, then proceed with slicing, chopping, or mincing the garlic.
Why is my garlic sprouting?
Most garlic sold at grocery stores is softneck garlic or Allium sativum which have the most robust shelf life. But as the bulbs sit and age, sprouts can appear if not properly stored. A little too much light, humidity, and heat can get those garlic bulbs sprouting.
Storing garlic in a cool dry area like a pantry in your kitchen reduces the chances of sprouting. Around 60 to 65ºF (15 to 18ºC) in a mesh bag, paper bag, or breathable basket is ideal. This can extend the usability to several months!