Good Question: When Good Garlic Goes Green

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Dear Kitchen,

When I made Puerto Rican style pork roast last weekend, some of my fresh garlic had sprouted.

Is it okay to use garlic that has a green sprout starting?

- Joanne

[photo: Hudson Valley Garlic Festival]

Joanne, thanks for your question. I hope your pork roast was excellent.

First, a confession: I too have been known to quickly knife out a garlic sprout or two and use it. As I suspected, this is not a kitchen best practice.

"Your dish is only going to be as good as the garlic you use," warns Saad Fayed, About.com's Middle Eastern Food writer. "Take care in storing garlic, you'll reap the rewards later."

Both The Garlic Store and Sproutpeople say that once garlic bulb grows a shoot, it starts to turn bitter.

Many food sites say putting garlic in the fridge makes it sprout. I store my garlic in a bowl on the counter and it still sprouts.

Some say that keeping garlic in a dark spot, like a brown paper lunch bag or terra cotta garlic holder, will stop it from sprouting. The allium experts at GardenWeb don't agree. Also, while researching your question, I found many warnings against storing garlic in oil which can cause botulism, as Colorado State explains here.

The variety and quality of garlic we start off with makes a difference too. When I've cooked with garlic from a greenmarket or the Park Slope Food Co-Op, I noticed better flavor and less sprouts. They were also easier to peel that supermarket garlic.

Garlic sprouts are springing up in sushi rolls and stir fries. These sprouts with "an awesome flavor" come from sprouting the seeds of the garlic chive, not garlic bulbs.

Kitchen readers, what's your experience? Should we invest in garlic savers, like these from Chefs Catalog and Sur La Table or is there another solution?

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