You might take one look at our garden and wonder if we’re preparing to be invaded by werewolves, vampires, and other evil spirits. Currently, a good 1/6 of our garden space is planted in garlic! My next post should really be on how to combat garlic-breath! Have you seen “garlic soap” before? If you’ve tried it, I’d love to know if it works because…
I went from never having planted garlic before, to making a new friend who happens to be a garlic aficionado, to planting over 150 cloves of 25 different varieties this year.
It seems there’s a little something for everyone in the garlic world- there are plenty of varieties that thrive in the super cold North and the hot, dry South. Varieties that will bite your face off, and some so mild they are nearly sweet. Some garlic was meant to be slow roasted, and others shine served raw, like in salsa or pesto.
It floors me that I had never planted garlic before. Because my parents didn’t grow it, and you won’t really find it in any of the gardening centers around here (because garlic is planted in fall, and the garden centers here are only open in spring), it just wasn’t on my radar. But now it is and I have a feeling it will be for a long time.
I needed to learn about green garlic because I had to pull a few plants earlier this spring. They were either doubled up in their paper wrapper and I didn’t catch it so twins grew, or the cloves migrated in the ground and a couple got too close to each other. It pained me to have to “thin” them, to pull that beautiful big garlic plant from his comfy home, but it had to be done. And there ain’t no way it was going to waste!
I set out to learn all I could about green garlic… and it kind of made me want to play it fast and loose in the garlic patch and pull up some more!
What is Green Garlic
Green garlic is simply immature garlic that is harvested when tender and before the bulb is fully mature. Green onion is to onion as green garlic is to garlic. And depending on when you pick it, it might be just a slender leek-esque stalk with no developed shoulders, it might resemble just one single clove of garlic, or it could be nearly an entire bulb. If you’re buying at the market, you’ll know it is green garlic and not green onion by giving it a quick smell.
Why Pick Green Garlic
But why on earth would you pick garlic before it matured?!
Unfortunate Circumstances: you might find yourself facing a disease that is wiping out your crop, and it’s either green garlic or no garlic at all. Maybe you planted it too close and need to thin them. Or… maybe you just LOVE the mild, pleasant taste of green garlic. You might even see it at your local farmer’s market- and if you do, you should definitely grab some!
How to Store Green Garlic
First things first: no matter what the plan, remove any dried outer layers of the garlic until you get down to moist, clean, shiny garlic. You can use the entire thing: the tender white and light green portion will be what you use for most preparations, and the darker green, tougher part of the leaves can be saved to flavor soups and stews. Some say you can even eat the roots!
How to Use Fresh Green Garlic
I prefer to cut it like a leek: cut the stalk in half lengthwise, put the cut sides down on the board, and then moving up the stalk cut it into half moon ribbons.
You can use green garlic pretty much any way you would use regular garlic or green onions- so get creative! It almost seems silly to give ideas on how to use it… because you could write a 1000-page book on how to use garlic. It belongs in nearly everything, but here are some ideas that will help the mild flavor of green garlic to shine!
Green garlic goes great with eggs- put into an omelette, frittata, or quiche.
Sauté some green garlic with your favorite vegetables- try asparagus, green beans, broccoli, spinach, or kale. Butter + green garlic + green veggies = you can’t go wrong.
Garlic and potatoes are an incredible combination! Try raw green garlic in your next potato salad, sautéed in a potato hash, or sliced into thin ribbons and sprinkled on loaded potato wedges.
Green garlic has such a nice, mild flavor that it makes an incredible pesto… which also freezes really well.
Fish, Seafood & Chicken
Because it is so mild, green garlic pairs exceptionally well with the mild taste of white fish and chicken. It would also be wonderful with things like oysters, mussels and shrimp. Try a green garlic butter to melt onto seafood, a fresh salsa with lots of green garlic for chicken fajitas, or stuff a bunch into the cavity of a whole chicken before roasting.
How to Preserve Green Garlic
If you find yourself with a whole lotta green garlic, it preserves wonderfully!
Cut the bulbs into thin slices up the stalk and dehydrate- I recommend the Excalibur dehydrator. And if the option to move the dehydrator to a covered porch or garage is available, definitely take it (your whole house will smell like garlic… I’ll let you decide if thats a good thing or not!). I like using the non-stick tray liners for things like this that are small and like to fall through the holes in the dehydrator trays.
Once dried, grind into garlic flakes or garlic powder using a blender or food processor.
Freeze the stalks as-is. Take a frozen stalk of garlic out of the freezer and (while still frozen) grate some into whatever you’re making. Or add a whole stalk right to your soup pot.
You can also cut the green garlic into rings or dice it first and then freeze- then it is all ready to go and you can throw a handful into whatever you are cooking up. It will turn soft when thawed, so it is best used in something being cooked, but the flavor will be there!
Use your favorite pickle recipe to make pickled green garlic! Then use in salads and salad dressings, on a cheese platter, on bread with lots of butter, with sardines on a cracker…
Ferment the whole green garlic stalks (white and light green parts only), or cut it into smaller pieces and ferment along with some hot peppers to make a fermented green garlic hot sauce!
If you’ve have a favorite way to use green garlic, please share it with us in the comments!
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