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  • Writer's pictureJere Folgert

Is Sprouted Garlic Edible? Yes, but read on...

Updated: Apr 1

Sprouted Garlic: Friend or Foe? (Spoiler: Friend!). Sprouted Garlic: Not a Monster in Your Pantry!

Ever reach for a head of garlic and find a tiny green Houdini trying to escape? Don't banish it to the compost bin just yet! Sprouted garlic is perfectly safe to eat, even if it's a little past its prime. Think of it as a garlic teenager – a little rebellious, but not harmful.

Here's the breakdown:

  • Sprouting is a Sign of Age, Not Spoilage: Unlike moldy and squishy soft garlic (which is definitely past its prime), a green shoot just means your garlic is getting a bit older. It might taste slightly more bitter, but that's because the clove itself is a senior citizen, and is only trying to grow a new garlic plant and produce garlic cloves (reproduction at it's finest!)

  • Bonus Points for Health Nuts: Studies suggest sprouted garlic might even have more antioxidants, those things that fight off free radicals and keep you healthy. Score!

  • Use it or Lose It (But Don't Throw it Away!): Don't waste that garlic! Sprouted garlic is perfect for dishes where it gets cooked with other ingredients, like stews, stir-fries, or that awesome pasta sauce you're famous for.

Sprouted Garlic Hacks: Become a Garlic Guru!

  • Shop Like a Detective: When buying garlic, look for firm bulbs without any sneaky green shoots trying to peek out.

  • Storage is Key: Keep your garlic in a cool, dark place (like a pantry) in a breathable basket or mesh bag. This air circulation keeps those sprouts at bay.

  • Fresh Garlic Fix: Need perfect garlic for a delicate recipe? Peeled cloves can last a week in the fridge, while minced garlic with some olive oil can hold its own for 3 days. Peel garlic cloves and keep them whole. Place them in a paper or glass container and they will store in the FREEZER for two years!

Sprouted Garlic is Natural. The garlic is attempting to propagate and make More Garlic!

The Great Garlic Escape: Why Cloves Sprout in Spring?

Garlic's Built-in Alarm Clock: Vernalization

The secret lies in a process called vernalization. This fancy term describes the need for a period of cold temperatures to trigger flowering or bulbing in certain plants. Garlic is one such plant! Here's how it works:

  1. Planting in Fall: Ideally, garlic is planted in the fall before the first frost. During the cold winter months, the cloves go through a period of vernalization. This cold exposure "tells" the garlic it's experienced winter and spring is coming.

  2. Spring Awakening: When spring arrives and the soil warms, the vernalized garlic cloves are primed for action. They begin to sprout, sending up green shoots that will eventually become the leaves of the garlic plant.

  3. Bulbing Up (Eventually): If planted in the ground, the garlic plant will continue to grow throughout the spring and summer, using its energy to form a bulb – the part we harvest and use in cooking.

But Wait, My Garlic Isn't Planted!

So, why does garlic sprout even when it's just sitting in your pantry? Here's the thing: garlic cloves are essentially tiny individual plants waiting to happen. They still have that built-in vernalization requirement.

If you store garlic in a cool location (which mimics winter conditions), it might be tricked into thinking spring is coming when the temperature fluctuates slightly. This can trigger some cloves to sprout, even if they're not in the ground.

Is Sprouted Garlic Safe to Eat?

Absolutely! While sprouted garlic might have a slightly sharper taste due to changes in its sugar content, it's perfectly safe to eat. In fact, some studies suggest sprouted garlic may even have higher levels of antioxidants!

Tips for Preventing Sprouts

If you want to keep your garlic from sprouting prematurely, here are some storage tips:

  • Store in a Cool, Dry Place: Aim for temperatures between 60-65°F (15-18°C) with good air circulation. Avoid storing garlic in the fridge, as this can actually encourage sprouting.

  • Separate the Cloves: Breaking the garlic bulb apart slightly can help prevent moisture buildup and discourage sprouting.

  • Use the Oldest First: Sprouts tend to appear first in older cloves, so use those up first.

So next time you see a sprouted garlic clove, don't be afraid to use it! It might even be a bit more nutritious than its younger sibling. Just remember, a little sprouted garlic won't turn your dish into a disaster. Embrace the garlic teen – it just wants to add a little flavor to your life!

What is Green Garlic and How can I use it in the Kitchen?

Green garlic, also called spring garlic or young garlic, is simply a garlic plant that hasn't matured yet. It looks like a scallion but with a milder garlic flavor.

Growing Your Own Green Garlic:

You absolutely can grow your own green garlic! Here's a quick rundown:

  • Planting: Plant garlic cloves in the fall, before the first frost hits your area. Alternatively, you can plant them very early spring.

  • Harvesting: Harvest green garlic in the spring or early summer, when the shoots are pencil-thin and about 6 inches tall. You can actually harvest even sooner if you prefer a very mild garlic taste.

  • Suitable Garlic: Almost any variety of garlic will work for growing green garlic.

Using Green Garlic in Cooking:

The whole green garlic plant is edible, from the bulb to the green shoots. Here are some ideas for using green garlic:

  • Salads: Add a subtle garlic kick to your salad with chopped green garlic.

  • Stir-fries: Throw in chopped green garlic near the end of cooking for a burst of fresh flavor.

  • Sauces: Green garlic is a great addition to pestos, chimichurri, or dipping sauces.

  • Finishing Touch: Mince some green garlic and sprinkle it over finished dishes like soups, stews, or pasta for a fresh garlicky pop.

Since green garlic has a milder flavor than regular garlic, you can usually use it in a 1:1 substitution for garlic cloves in recipes. Enjoy the taste of spring with homegrown green garlic!

Here's the deal: As garlic gets older, it might decide to sprout like a mini garlic plant. This green shoot itself actually tastes mild and grassy, kind of like a tiny blade of wheat. The real change is in the clove itself. Because the garlic is using up its energy to grow the sprout, the clove might taste a bit more bitter. But hey, no worries!

Here's the good news: You can still totally use sprouted garlic in cooking! The stronger flavor probably won't be noticeable in most dishes, especially things like stews, stir-fries, or pasta sauce. Plus, a study suggests sprouted garlic might even have more antioxidants, which are good for you!

Bonus points for being eco-friendly! Instead of throwing out sprouted garlic, you can use it up and reduce food waste.

Tips for Using Sprouted Garlic:

  • Use it in dishes where the garlic isn't the main star. Think backup singer, not lead singer.

  • Casseroles, soups, stews, dips, stir-fries, pasta sauces, and curries are all great places for sprouted garlic to shine.

How to Prevent Sprouts (but it's okay if they happen):

  • When buying garlic, look for bulbs without any little green surprises.

  • Store your garlic in a cool, dark, and airy place like a pantry or cupboard. Avoid the fridge, which can make it sprout faster.

  • Keep garlic in a mesh bag or basket so it can breathe.

Remember: Even if your garlic sprouts, it's still safe to eat! Use it up and avoid food waste.

GroEat Farm, LLC is a small, independently-owned grower and supplier of premium quality hardneck garlic (seed and culinary).    We provide exceptional quality hardneck garlic to nurseries,  market growers, home garden enthusiasts, chefs, and anyone else looking for better hardneck garlic.

Hardneck Garlic Growing Practices:  No Pesticides, No Herbicides, No Fungicides.   Our little family farm uses best farming practices to grow and achieve quality hardneck garlic. 


GroEat Farm, LLC is a small, sustainable family farm located in Bozeman, Montana.  We’re located in the beautiful Hyalite foothills, below the Gallatin Mountain Range.  The hardneck varieties that grow at our farm (Ophioscorodon) flourish here, due to the combination of the cold winters, temperate summers, moist spring, and the dynamic alluvial soils, washed down from the Gallatin Range (comprised of Archean metamorphics, Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks, and Eocene volcanics).  Not only are the GroEat Hardneck garlic healthy and beautiful, the flavor’s are robust and delicate.


Our mission at GroEat Farm, LLC is to grow premium hardneck garlic, preserve garlic varieties for the future (through propagation), and to provide others with the opportunity to grow garlic from our seed.   We help home gardeners, chefs, small-scale commercial growers, gardeners, plant nurseries, and anyone else looking for better hardneck garlic.  We are continuing a very long tradition of growing quality gourmet and seed hardneck garlic.   

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