Can you eat garlic that has turned green?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat garlic that has turned green?”, and how to prevent green garlic?

Can you eat garlic that has turned green?

Yes, you can eat garlic that has turned green. Green garlic is not something to be scared of. The green color of the garlic is due to the formation of chlorophyll.  As long as there are no signs of spoilage present, you can safely eat green garlic.

Most of you will be familiar with this pigment. If not, this is the main pigment of plant leaves that carries out the photosynthesis process. Some types of garlic are more prone to turning green because of the fertilizer used to grow it.

Garlic turning green is an indication that it has been exposed to too much sunlight, heat, or moisture and frequently. If you simply do not like the look of green garlic, there are ways you can avoid it from happening. 

Can you eat sprouted garlic?

The sprouting of the garlic to form the little green garlic stalks is a natural process. About the taste, well, it is not ideal but does not deserve to be discarded at all times.

Some recipes require only a little amount of garlic, probably one or two cloves of garlic only. In that case, you won’t even notice the pungent and slightly bitter flavor of the garlic greens. 

But if you find it too offensive, you can always remove the garlic greens by cutting each clove vertically in half. Similarly, if you intend to use raw chopped garlic in your salad or salad dressing, skip the sprouted garlic.

Never use sprouted garlic in dishes that wholly rely on the earthy and mildly sweet flavor of the fresh garlic. These may include garlic bread, garlic chicken, garlic fried rice, etc.

How to prevent green garlic?

Garlic sprouted, either because it is too old, or it has been frequently exposed to moisture, heat, and light. The whole garlic bulb has a shelf-life of 6 months and unpeeled garlic cloves last 3 months in the pantry.

To extend the shelf-life of garlic, you need to keep it in a well-ventilated place away from moisture and heat. The best storage place would be the pantry. Keep the garlic in a basket to ensure ventilation. 

Garlic chemistry 

The main odorless sulfur compound of garlic is allicin. An enzyme called alliinase is also present in garlic. Both of these compounds remain in the inert form in the whole garlic. 

As soon as the garlic is cut or crushed, both of these compounds react to form the organosulphate. The formation of this compound releases a very pungent smell. The smell grows stronger when you further cut or chop the garlic clove.

When combined with an acid (like vinegar in the pickled form), the allicin in the garlic forms colored compounds. 

This happens when the allicin in the garlic reacts with its amino acids to form pyrrole rings, 4 pyrrole rings give a green color, and 3 pyrrole rings give a blue color. 

When garlic reacts with trace minerals in the water or minerals (Cu Al, Fe, Sb) in the pots and pans, a similar reaction takes place.

Can you eat blue or green garlic?

In case you are wondering, the flavor profile of the garlic remains unchanged with the newly developed colors. Blue or green garlic is completely safe to eat. 

Therefore, you do not need to worry the next time your garlic turns green or blue during pickling or cooking.

How to prevent blue garlic?

Some types of garlic have a higher tendency to go green or blue due to certain soil and irrigation conditions. Having said that, there are ways you can avert the process.

  1. Do not use tap water when pickling garlic. Tap water is rich in trace minerals that can react with allicin to form colorful compounds. Use distilled water instead.
  1. Since iodine is a mineral, you should ditch the iodized salt for the non-iodized salt when pickling garlic.
  1. Do not cook garlic in copper, tin, or cast iron pots or pans. Instead, work with stainless steel or enamel cookware.
  1. Blanching the garlic for 10 seconds sometimes prevents the coloring but it does not always work so it’s the least reliable technique.
  1. Either fresh or pickled, garlic should not be placed in the way of direct sunlight. Place it somewhere dark, and cool.

Other FAQs about Garlic that you may be interested in.

Can you have too much garlic?

Can you use garlic salt instead of garlic powder?

Can I substitute garlic powder for garlic?


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat garlic that has turned green?”, and how to prevent green garlic?