Green garlic by any other name would smell as… sweet? It’s true, green garlic, which goes by other names, such as spring garlic, new garlic, and young garlic, has a mild, fresh, slightly sweet flavour. And, it is incredibly versatile: use it in any recipe where you would use garlic, green onions, or chives. Green garlic is a true taste and sure sign of spring!
Picked before it is fully mature, green garlic looks more like a green onion than a garlic bulb. With a white (or pinky-hued white) bulb, pale green stalk that gets darker towards the top, green garlic is so-called because it is young, not for it’s colouring. They are pulled by growers when thinning crops (to provide more room for curing mature garlic heads) and, increasingly, grown as a crop in their own right. In fact, you can try planting some at home: if you have any old garlic lying around, and it has started to push out a little green tail, you might try planting some at home in a window box or backyard garden for fun. It won’t turn into a full garlic head (garlic is planted in the fall in Ontario), but it will yield some lovely green garlic!
Since green garlic is technically garlic, it contains all of the amazing health benefits of the more mature bulb. Garlic is notable for its immune-boosting qualities: allicin, the sulfur compound found in garlic, responsible for its pungent smell and taste, is a natural antibiotic and can help the body block infections. If you suffer from anemia or low iron levels, garlic also helps to keep iron levels high. Most people know that vitamin C helps increase iron metabolism, but garlic contains the protein ferroportin that carries stored iron from inside a cell to outside of the cell, assisting the body as needed. Green garlic is also high in polysulfides, which help protect against heart disease; and if that weren’t enough, green garlic is also rich in manganese, a mineral linked to "good" cholesterol.
Integrating green garlic into meals is incredibly easy. Simply slice it thinly, as you would a green scallion. You can use both the white bulb and the tender portion of the green stalk. Here are a few ways to easily add green garlic to your meals:
- Stir it into a homemade salad dressing.
- Use it as a garnish for soups or chili.
- Sauté it as you would normal garlic for a stir-fry or for a vegetable dish.
- Stuff a whole chicken with whole green garlic and lemons, then roast.
- Use it as a pizza topping, but sprinkle it around the pizza before you add the cheese, so it doesn't burn in the oven.
- Warm it gently in butter or olive oil and dress vegetables, add to salad dressings, or a favourite: add to steaming, roughly mashed potatoes.