What is Green Garlic?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Green garlic is young garlic which is harvested before the cloves have begun to mature. The resulting vegetable resembles a scallion, with a deep green stalk and a pale white bulb. It can often be found for sale at a farmers' market in the spring, and can also be grown at home relatively easily.

Farmer's markets often sell green garlic in the spring.
Farmer's markets often sell green garlic in the spring.

When garlic is grown normally, it is harvested when the lower part of the stalk visible above the ground starts to turn brown. The bulb of the garlic has differentiated into garlic cloves, and it is cured so that it will last in storage. Typically, garlic is harvested in the middle of summer. Green garlic, on the other hand, is harvested before the plant is mature. The stalks are still totally green, usually around one foot (30 cm) long, and the bulb resembles that of a green onion, rather than a segmented head of garlic.

Consuming raw garlic may cause upset stomach in some individuals.
Consuming raw garlic may cause upset stomach in some individuals.

The flavor of green garlic is still garlicky, but is much more mild with less of a bitter bite. When cooked, the garlic sweetens, lending a new layer of depth to a dish. The whole plant, including the leaves, can be used. Some cooks use it instead of mature garlic or scallions for a different flavor in a favorite dish, and others invent entirely new dishes to showcase its mild flavor. It can be used raw or cooked in a broad assortment of cuisines.

Other names are sometimes used to market green garlic, including spring garlic and baby garlic. In all cases, you want to pick out sturdy crisp stalks which do not appear wilted, and you should check for mold and mildew on the garlic. The garlic can be stored under refrigeration for three to five days before being used, and it will not cure like regular garlic, so make sure to use it up.

To grow green garlic, set aside a small patch in the garden to plant with seed garlic, cloves of garlic picked from especially high quality plants. You can also grow garlic from cloves purchased at the grocery store, but many gardeners prefer the assurance of better quality offered by seed garlic. Plant the cloves in fall or spring, depending on whether or not the winter is cold, and mulch the garlic well to protect it from freezing. Harvest in the late spring, and enjoy.

Green garlic may be used in place of scallions to add a different flavor to a favorite dish.
Green garlic may be used in place of scallions to add a different flavor to a favorite dish.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Garlic scapes are the flowering stalk of a few varieties of garlic that are harvested and sold at farmers markets and a delicacy! Steam or sautee with butter! Yum!


Is green garlic safe for dogs?


Green Garlic is now available from Christopher Ranch from May - October. Please have your chain stores ask for them!!!


Putting older, dried garlic in the fridge and having it "turn green" does not make it "green garlic." Green garlic is similar to a large spring onion and should be kept in the refrigerator. Dried garlic (matured bulbs) should be kept at room temperature with ventilation.


I bought green garlic today, in Waitrose. haven't tried it yet.


Garlic goes green in the fridge because it is trying to sprout roots and leaves.

Chlorophyll is the substance that gives the green color. It is indispensable for plant growth because it converts light into sugar.

Fruit softens when cooked in water because the plant tissues become saturated from the water and expanded from the heat. This causes a loss in rigidity.

Browning or dulling in cooked vegetables is due partly to the denaturing of chlorophyll. It is also due to plant tissue modification from the heat. Remember that the color of things is due to what light is reflected into your eyes. As plant tissues change, so does their light reflective properties.


I never keep my garlic in the refrigerator but rather in a glazed clay garlic keeper. Since garlic is dried, I think that putting it in the refrigerator would a bad idea as there is moisture inside a refrigerator. My suggestion is to keep the garlic on the counter in a dry, temperate place.


I was told the name for these "green garlic" was "garlic scapes" which is what is usually found at our local farmers market only in the spring.


Garlic cloves are little bulbs and if you plant them they will grow into a plant. Onions, too.

I keep an onion and garlic cloves on my kitchen counter, and I know it's spring when they sprout and send out a stem reaching toward the light from the window! The green is the new plant starting. You should cut it out as it is bitter.


why does garlic go green when kept in the fridge and what is the prevention for it?


why does garlic go green during the storage ?

why does fruit soften when it is cooked in water? in addition, when cooked the vegetables brown or dull...please answer.. thank you...

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