Can You Eat Sprouted Garlic?

If the bulb is bursting at the seams, is it too late?

sprouted garlic

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You know that moment when the chill hits the air, leaves fall, and thoughts turn to a comforting pot of something? You root through your pantry for some garlic to start your Chicken Noodle Soup, but your little bulb has sprouted green tips.

Can you use it or should you throw it away? Do you have to change out of your jammies and go to the store? Not to worry, those little green shoots are actually the garlic regenerating itself—and here's what that means.

Can You Eat Garlic That Is Sprouting?

For cooked preparations like soup or dishes where garlic is not the star, go ahead and use the sprouts. They are really just a sign that the garlic is getting older and beginning to grow new shoots.

But even though sprouted garlic is safe to use, it likely won't taste the same. The sprouts are more bitter in flavor and offer less sweetness than the garlic cloves.

A quick fix if you want to mitigate the bitter flavor, but still use the clove: Split it, and pull the green shoot out. The clove overall will still have a more pungent flavor than fresher garlic, but the extra sharpness will likely get lost in the flavors of large batches of stew or spaghetti sauce.

If raw preparations like an herby vinaigrette or fragrant pesto are on the menu, sprouted garlic will have too much bite. Don’t use those green shoot-laden bulbs when garlic is the star ingredient like in a homey roasted chicken. The flavor will just be too harsh. 

How To Prevent Sprouting

Green sprouts can also indicate that it hasn’t been stored properly. Garlic likes cool, dark, dry places with temperatures between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit, for maximum life (up to six months).

You have no control over how long it has been sitting in the bin at the grocery store, but follow these tips to ensure you get the most potent vampire-repelling, chicken-roasting bulb at the outset. 

So sprouted garlic is safe to eat, and did you know the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reported in a study that garlic sprouted for five days has significantly higher antioxidant levels than fresher garlic? Do your best to buy and store it properly, but if you see little green stalks emerging from your bulb, have no fear.

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  1. Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Secrets of Storing Garlic.

  2. Zakarova A, Seo JY, Kim HY, et al. Garlic sprouting is associated with increased antioxidant activity and concomitant changes in the metabolite profile. J Agric Food Chem. 2014;62(8):1875-1880. doi:10.1021/jf500603v

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