Can you eat green garlic?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “Can you eat green garlic?” with an in-depth analysis of green garlic, the nutritional composition of green garlic, how to store and prepare green garlic as well as the ways to use green garlic. 

Can you eat green garlic?

Yes, you can eat green garlic. Whole green garlic is safe to consume. Green garlic can be eaten raw in salads or sliced for sandwiches or it can be sautéed, stir-fried as well as simmered in a soup. 

For a light side dish, add lightly browned green garlic to add fragrance to rice, or use it in a creamy sauce for roasted potatoes.

What is green garlic?

Green Garlic, also known as spring garlic, means garlic that is harvested before the bulb forms. The bulb looks like that of green onion, although sometimes it may be a little bigger. It is used as a herb, for seasoning (1). 

The taste of green garlic lies somewhere between a green onion and mature garlic. It is fresh and zingy, with a grasslike sweetness and some earthlike aromatics.

Green Garlic does not mean the following types of green garlic:

  • Raw garlic can turn green if it reacts with copper, is exposed to sunlight, and is not fully grown when mixed with something acidic, or iodized salt. 
  • Garlic can also go green if it has gone bad with mold on it which is not safe to eat.

What are the health benefits of eating green garlic?

Green garlic offers several potential health benefits which include the following(1,2);

  • Nutrition:  Green garlic comprises similar nutrients as those found in full-grown garlic. Allicin, a sulfur compound, a natural antibiotic, and manganese, a mineral linked to good cholesterol and iron (2,6). 

The nutritional composition of green garlic is given below for 100g:

NutrientsAmount per 100g
Calories149
Protein6.0 g
Fat0.5 g
Carbohydrates33.0 g
Fiber2.5 g
Vitamin C80 mg
Calcium153 mg
Iron1.7 mg
Potassium660 mg
Sodium35 mg
  • Immune System Support: Green garlic is high in vitamin C, which can help boost the immune system and protect against infections 
  • Heart Health: Green garlic contains allicin, a compound that may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. 
  • Digestive Health: The fiber in green garlic can help promote healthy digestion and prevent constipation 
  • Bone Health: Green garlic is a good source of calcium, which is essential for strong bones and teeth 
  • Anti-Cancer Properties: The sulfur-containing compounds in green garlic may help protect against certain types of cancer, such as stomach and colorectal cancer 

What are the risk of eating green garlic?

Despite the fact that green garlic is typically safe to eat, there are some potential hazards to be aware of, including (3,4); 

Digestive Issues 

Consuming too much green garlic can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea, particularly for those with digestive conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

Allergic reactions

Those with allergies to garlic may experience allergic reactions if they consume green garlic. Symptoms may include hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing. If you experience any severe allergic reactions, seek medical attention. 

Medication Interactions

 Certain medications, including blood thinners like warfarin, may interact with green garlic. If you are taking any medications, consult your healthcare provider before consuming green garlic.

Contamination

Yeast contamination can occur with green garlic, just like with any fresh produce, including E. coli or salmonella. It is imperative to wash green garlic thoroughly before consuming it and store it properly to prevent contamination. 

Pesticide residue

Green garlic may contain pesticide residue, particularly if it is not grown organically. To minimize pesticide exposure, choose organic green garlic when possible.

How to prepare green garlic?

Green garlic is harvested in the spring when the stalks are about the height of 10 to 16 inches. To prepare green garlic, cut off the very bottom of the bulb, and use all of the tender white and light green portions (5). Dark green leaves can be preserved for stock or used for adding extra flavor to a soup.

 How to store green garlic?

Green garlic can be stored  in a refrigerator for five to seven days. For this purpose, wrap it in a damp paper towel before placing it in a plastic bag; or for a non-plastic option, attach the green garlic to a tall glass with little water in the bottom. 

Green garlic can also be preserved in a freezer. This way it can be added to a variety of dishes whenever needed.

What are the ways to use green garlic?

Green garlic can be used in a variety of ways (1,2,5), which include: 

Fresh Garlic

The bulb and tender stalks of green garlic can be used as a substitute for garlic, onions, scallions, or shallots in almost any recipe. They can be enjoyed when sautéed with other vegetables, added to soups, in pesto, or minced and added to a salad dressing.

Roasted Garlic

Roasted green garlic is tasty just like mature roasted garlic. One method to roast green garlic requires wrapping garlic in tin foil and roasting it in the oven till it is soft. Another way to roast garlic is as follows: 

  • Strip away the stronger external layers, then put the garlic in a glass pan. 
  • Spray some extra virgin olive oil to coat it slightly, and add some salt and pepper. 
  • At 400 degrees Fahrenheit, roast the green garlic in an oven until it is soft and golden brown.
  • The time will differ based on the thickness and age of the green garlic you are using. For larger and more mature bulbs, roasting for 20 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered works well. 
  • Flip over the chunks at least once while baking to precisely roast each side.

Green Garlic Powder

The most reliable way to preserve green garlic is to dry it and make garlic powder. It is a delightful addition to a variety of meals. When stored right, garlic powder can stay fresh for over a year.

To make garlic powder: 

  • Thinly cut the garlic, and dry it thoroughly in a food dehydrator. 
  • Then, grind it into a fine powder in a coffee grinder or food processor. 
  • Store in an air-tight container and enjoy.

Pickle

Another way to preserve green garlic is to pickle it. Green garlic that is fermented is a commonly recommended method to preserve it.

 To pickle green garlic: 

  • Cut and strip away any hardtop and external parts, exposing the most tender central pieces. 
  • Place in a jar with vinegar-based brine and seasonings of your preference. 

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we have answered the question, “Can you eat green garlic?” with an in-depth analysis of green garlic, the nutritional composition of green garlic, how to store and prepare green garlic as well as the ways to use green garlic. 

References

  1. Matera R, Lucchi E, Valgimigli L. Plant Essential Oils as Healthy Functional Ingredients of Nutraceuticals and Diet Supplements: A Review. Vol. 28, Molecules. 2023. 
  1. Arzanlou M, Bohlooli S. Introducing of green garlic plant as a new source of allicin. Food Chem. 2010;120(1). 
  1. Li L, Zhao T, Liu Y, Liang H, Shi K. Method Validation, Residues and Dietary Risk Assessment for Procymidone in Green Onion and Garlic Plant. Foods. 2022;11(13).
  1. Bian Y, Wang J, Liu F, Mao B, Huang H, Xu J, et al. Residue behavior and removal of iprodione in garlic, green garlic, and garlic shoot. J Sci Food Agric. 2020;100(13).
  2. El-Sayed SF, El-Helaly MAEF, Emam MS, El-Ghaffar MAERA. Effect of some post-harvest treatments on quality of fresh garlic. Plant Arch. 2019;19(2)
  1. Longvah T, Ananthan R, Bhaskarachary K, Venkaiah K. Indian Food Composition Tables. 2017.