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  • Writer's pictureJere Folgert

Eating Garlic Roots

Updated: Feb 15

Garlic roots can be used in both raw and cooked dishes. Not surprisingly, roots taste similar to the mild flavor of garlic scapes and green garlic. Roots can be added to fresh salads or used as a garnish for raw dishes such as hummus and guacamole. Roots can also be fried or dehydrated to give them a crunchy texture. Garlic roots can add a subtle nutty flavor to recipes, served raw as a garnish or incorporated into a fresh salad for that magic garlic firework display. The flavor of garlic roots is garlicy, though it's sweeter and not as strong as garlic cloves. Cooked garlic roots become soft over time and develop a hint of nutty sweetness.

(Exposed Garlic Roots After Harvest. GroEAT Farm - Montana)

Native Americans from the plains would often hunt and eat buffalo (American Bison). Apparently, every part of the buffalo was used, from the bones to the meat to the hide. The skin and fur made excellent coverings for living and traveling in the cold snow, and the food was revered and respected. Finding unique ways to prepare and eat each portion of our vegetables not only prevents waste, but it also shows them respect. This approach promotes savoring and appreciating each and every part of the plant. Some plant parts are poisonous; the leaves of rhubarb come to mind so this approach cannot always be followed.

When the large hardneck garlic is harvested at the GroEat Farm in Montana, the massive, stringy roots attached to bulbs are always impressive! The roots typically have a length of seven inches, though some extend to eleven inches. After the bulb is extracted from the soil, soil can be washed away easily, revealing beautiful white or cream-colored strands and have the appearance of angel hair pasta.

Garlic roots really are amazing; They do so much! Roots are the bottom part of this vascular plant and their primary functions are anchorage of the plant, absorption of water and dissolved minerals and conduction of these to the stem, and storage of reserve foods. The bulb and its roots contain allicin which has antifungal and antibiotic properties that can be used to treat bacterial infections and even bee stings.

(Harvesting Garlic at GroEAT Farm - Exposing the Roots)

Description/Taste Garlic roots are the taproots of an individual garlic bulb. These taproots descend from the underside of the clove during garlic's growing cycle, anchoring the plant and continuing to act as the plant's food biological pump, absorbing nutrients from the soil, and pumping the nutrients to the rest of the plant. Garlic roots extend from all sides of the underground bulb's flat plate and can extend up to 10 inches in length. A mature garlic plant has over 50 roots. The roots are typically hairless and are white with hues of yellow, beige, black and even red, a reflection of the soil they are grown in. Similar to the bulbs of the garlic plant, garlic roots contain allicin which has antibiotic and antifungal properties.

A Culinary Ingredient

Garlic roots may seem like an unusual and unknown culinary ingredient, only because the roots are typically trimmed from the bulb and discarded after harvest. The focus of most growers is on the prize-winning bulb. Though garlic roots are considered a secondary crop for some garlic growers. Garlic roots are available from most conventional garlic growers - all you need to do is ask. If you are interested in garlic roots, make requests with garlic growers for a special harvest. Roots can occasionally be found at farmer's markets.

How to Incorporate Garlic Roots in to Recipes

Comparable to the mild flavor of garlic scapes and green garlic, roots can be incorporated into fresh salads or used as a garnish for guacamole and hummus. Garlic roots can be used in both raw and cooked applications. Garlic roots can also be combined with chicken, tofu, salmon, soups, pasta, legumes, and potatoes. They can be fried in oil or butter or dried / dehydrated to give a crunchy texture. The dried roots can be tossed into salads, pastas or soups as a finishing touch.

To enhance and complement the taste of spring vegetables, couple garlic roots with radish, kale, herbs or wild mushrooms.

One of our favorites is to cook asparagus in butter and sprinkle dried garlic roots on top for a crunchy aftertone.

Try chopping the roots finely and include them in bean chili, Cucumbers with Ajo Blanco Sauce, Zucchini-Herb Fritters with Garlic Yogurt, Broccoli and Garlic-Ricotta Toasts with Hot Honey, Slow-Cooked Halibut with Garlic Cream and Fennel, Garlic bread, or Herby Pasta with Green Olives.

(Cooked Asparagus in Butter Topped with Washed, Fresh Garlic Roots)

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