Is It Okay To Use Sprouted Garlic?

Ramps — the kind of wild garlic that is the star of springtime menus at trendy restaurants — are beloved for the long green leaves that fan out from their bulbs. However, when green sprouts emerge from their more commonplace cousin Allium sativum – that papery white bulb of garlic you probably have in your kitchen — it's a sign that it's past its prime. Garlic remains perfectly safe to eat after sprouting, but there are a few things you'll want to take into consideration when cooking with it.

Unlike the sweet flavor of fresh garlic cloves, the green sprouts that appear over time have a bitter flavor, which can impact the overall taste of a dish when cooking. You can slice the cloves in half and extract the sprouts if you prefer, but if raw garlic is a primary ingredient in your recipe, for example, in bruschetta or aioli, you may want to get some fresh bulbs and put the sprouted ones to use as a supporting ingredient in other cooked dishes instead.

How to store your garlic to avoid sprouting

When stored well, a whole garlic bulb can last up to six months, while separated, unpeeled garlic cloves will last about three weeks. Unless you're buying garlic directly from a farmer, you likely won't know how long it's been since it was harvested, so the best you can do is try to optimize the conditions for storage.

Garlic will sprout in response to moisture, light, and temperature. Store your garlic in a dry, dark, cool place to prevent sprouting. In general, garlic does well when kept in the pantry. You can keep it at a distance from other foods that might absorb its aroma, but avoid putting it in a plastic bag, which prevents air circulation and traps humidity. A wire basket or other container with holes is ideal for airflow. If you have more garlic than you know what to do with, you can store unpeeled garlic cloves, whole or chopped, in the freezer for more than six months in an airtight container.

Tips for growing fresh garlic from sprouted bulbs

A sprouted garlic bulb is the first step toward growing your own garlic at home. If you want to turn one garlic clove into many of them, the only equipment that you need at the start is a clear glass and clean water. Take just one sprouted garlic clove and set it in the container with a few inches of water and the green sprout pointing upward, then place that container in direct sunlight — on a kitchen windowsill is usually perfect. Be sure to change the water every few days so that it remains clear.

After a few weeks, you should see roots growing at the bottom of your garlic clove. At this point, you can transfer your garlic into a pot filled with dirt or directly into the ground with the tip of the sprout poking out of the soil. Depending on the kind of garlic and how you harvest it once it reaches maturity, it can be grown as a perennial plant so that you have a fresh batch of home-grown garlic every harvest season.