Why Spring Garlic Is the Best Garlic

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Erin Alderson)

I have trouble imagining my kitchen without garlic. Like onions and lemons, it’s a staple that I always have on hand, regardless of the time of year.

While you may be able to purchase it year-round, the truth is, garlic does have a season. And come spring, what I have trouble imagining my kitchen without is spring garlic. Here’s why.

What Is Spring Garlic?

Garlic is generally planted in the fall before the frost and harvested the following late summer. But from about March to May, once the ground has finally thawed, the young plants, called spring garlic or green garlic, can be harvested.

The cloves usually have not formed in the bulb of garlic this young, which is why it looks more like a spring onion than a mature garlic bulb. The top is bright green and the bottom bulb is white and speckled with pink and purple.

What Makes Spring Garlic So Special?

You may be hard-pressed to find spring garlic at your regular grocery store, but you’ll likely come across it at your local farmers market (or maybe you grow it yourself!). Trust me when I say you’ll want to keep an eye out for it. Its flavor is fresh, mild, and sweet, with an almost nutty aroma — a sharp departure from the pungent cloves that are called for in most recipes.

This makes it extremely versatile. Not only can you use it in place of garlic in a recipe, but you can also swap it in for leeks, scallions, and spring onions, too. The mild flavor also means that besides cooking it, spring garlic can also be enjoyed raw.

There’s also the wonderful fact that spring garlic requires little prep, unlike those pesky cloves that need peeling. Simply wash the stalks well under cold running water and chop them. The entire plant is edible — both the bulb and green top!

How to Use Spring Garlic

One stalk of spring garlic is equal to about one clove of garlic.

Try swapping in spring garlic in any fresh, spring dishes — it will only boost its brightness. Store it in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer in your refrigerator to keep it fresh.

Are you a fan of spring garlic? What’s your favorite way to use it when it’s in season?

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