Green garlic adds a delicate garlicky flavor to spring and early summer dishes. It's a hallmark of spring and usually available at farmers' markets starting in March in warmer climates and into July in cooler ones. Green garlic is the young version of the plants that will eventually produce the heads of garlic found at the store. This flavorful veggie can be used anytime regular garlic is used. It's an easy plant to grow at home and will thrive across the U.S. in gardens where garlic or scallions grow. It can be enjoyed raw in salads, dressings, or sauces, as well as pickled, roasted, grilled, braised, or added to other dishes in place of garlic.
What Is Green Garlic?
Green garlic is simply immature garlic. It looks like a slightly overgrown scallion or green onion and has a bulb that is usually white with a slight pink tint. It is pulled by growers when thinning crops and is increasingly grown as a crop in its own right. Green garlic usually comes from soft-necked varieties grown in temperate or warmer climates, while garlic scapes come from hard-necked varieties grown in cooler areas. Its peak season is early spring. Green garlic may be more expensive than regular garlic, but it's not overly expensive. To prepare it, simply trim off the very bottom part (the bulb with roots) and then use the tender white and light green parts as you wish.
How to Cook With Green Garlic
To use green garlic, simply trim off the root ends and any tough part of the green leaves. Chop or slice the white and light green leaves and the first few inches of the dark green leaves (as long as they are tender). Use green garlic as you would green onions or regular garlic, noting that it is stronger than the former but milder than the latter. Raw preparations include sliced into a salad, pureed into a dressing, or chopped into a sauce. It can also be pickled by cutting larger pieces and covering them with pickling liquid. Braised green garlic can be prepared by slow roasting the trimmed garlic in butter or olive oil. If you're unsure how to use green garlic, follow any recipe with garlic and swap green garlic instead.
What Does It Taste Like?
Green garlic is milder with less of the harsh spiciness of regular garlic. It tastes more like an onion. Green garlic is quite sharp when eaten raw but mellows tremendously when cooked.
Green Garlic Recipes
The simplest way to use green garlic is to just chop it up and use it as a garnish, much like green onions, as in this endive kumquat salad. The next approach is to add it to simply cooked dishes or use it to replace garlic, shallots, or onions. Try swapping in green garlic in these recipes so the delicately garlicky flavor can shine:
Where to Buy Green Garlic
You can find green garlic in the spring at farmers' markets or better grocery stores. Look for green garlic with fresh green tops. Avoid dried ends or soggy leaves. Browning or dirty outer leaves can be stripped off as you would with green onions. Green garlic is sold whole, with the bulbs still on. In some markets, you can select the number of stalks you want. Others may have them prepackaged in rubber bands in groups of five or so stalks. If you are looking for a large amount, talk to a farmer or market manager about how to buy in bulk. Green garlic can be grown at home. It should be planted in the fall and picked in the spring when the plants are 10 to 15 inches high. Pull the whole plant (including the bulb) out of the ground. Remove the outer leaf and then use it.
You can store green garlic in the refrigerator for about 5 to 7 days. To keep it longer, wrap the green garlic in a damp paper towel, put it in a plastic bag, then store it in the refrigerator. Another option is to keep the green garlic in a tall glass with water covering the roots. Store the glass in the refrigerator.
Nutrition and Benefits
Green garlic has the same nutritional benefits as regular garlic. It has a high amount of allicin, a powerful antioxidant that helps the body in numerous ways. Garlic is known to boost the immune system, stimulate circulation, and reduce the risk of certain diseases.
Green Garlic vs. Garlic Scapes
Green garlic is often confused with garlic scapes. Garlic scapes are the curled flower stalks of hard-necked garlic varieties grown in colder climates. They are cut off by growers to encourage better bulb growth and are available through early summer in colder growing regions. Garlic scapes look like green, thin and curly, straw-shaped vegetables.
To use garlic scapes, simply chop or mince them. Add raw to salads (it has a great crunch), or toss by the handful into stir-fries. If you have a lot of scapes around, make delicious garlic scape pickles.
Green garlic looks more like a scallion, green onion, or spring onion. It has a bulb at the bottom and long, light to dark green skinny flat stalks or leaves at the top. Green garlic should smell like garlic rather than onion.