Is It Safe To Eat Sprouted Garlic?

So you were cleaning out your pantry and you found a few heads of garlic, but on closer inspection, you noticed they had little sprouts coming out of them that were starting to grow, or you cut into a clove and noticed a small green core running through it. Your first instinct might be to throw them out (or maybe plant them?) but fear not, there are still safe ways for you to use up your less-than-fresh garlic.

According to The Kitchn, it is perfectly safe to eat sprouted garlic. They claim the reason garlic sprouts is likely that it was improperly stored. While you can't control what happens before you purchase it, the best way to store garlic once you get it home is in a cool, dark place like your pantry. While you can refrigerate garlic, Good Housekeeping warns that garlic will start sprouting within a few days of being brought back up to room temperature after being kept that cold, so make sure to only take out as much as you need. 

If you have way too much garlic and know it will go bad before you have time to use it all, you can always freeze garlic by mincing or pureeing the cloves and then freezing it in ice cube trays or spread flat to form a thin, breakable sheet. Once frozen solid, store the cubes or chunks in an air-tight container.

What to do with sprouted garlic

Bon Appetit explains the real issue with cooking and eating sprouted garlic is that the green sprouts are actually incredibly bitter. They do go on to state that, while the bitter flavor is unappealing, it is mostly unnoticeable in larger dishes where garlic is not the star. For these dishes, you can just treat the sprouted clove like a regular one. If you are making a dish focused on garlic or that uses an excessive amount, like garlic bread, Caesar salad dressing, or garlic roast chicken, Bon Appetit does suggest you remove the sprouts. Luckily, it is very easy to remove the sprout from your garlic clove, leaving it totally edible and normal tasting. You simply slice any sprouting cloves lengthwise and then pull the sprout out of the center.

You might even want to sprout your garlic! According to the American Chemical Society, sprouted garlic contains even more antioxidants than young, fresh garlic. Prevention points to the increase in phytoalexins, which are a variety of chemicals that help the plant defend itself against bacteria, insects, and viruses while it is trying to grow. They claim that these chemicals are valuable to humans and add to the list of health benefits eating raw garlic offers.