Should You Remove the Green Germ in the Middle of A Bulb of Garlic?

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Garlic that is ‘old’ – that’s the garlic you find in supermarkets where garlic is sold as a year-round crop – often has a green germ or sprout in the middle. Some people find it bitter and claim it affects their digestion. So should you remove it or leave it in?

There are many food myths that we all take for granted until we find out that they are not true. At one time everyone on television or in cookbooks told you that you had to sear meat to stop the juices escaping, until food scientist Harold McGee proved otherwise by actually measuring the juices that leaked from the meat into the pan when he seared – and didn’t – sear meat. And that put an end to that myth.

The same is true of whether to remove the green germ that you find inside of garlic. We’ve seen sensitive chefs delicately removing the sprout in each clove of garlic because they swear that they will suffer indigestion if they don’t (though we have our doubts as to whether they do this in their own restaurant kitchens when they are faced with a mountain of garlic cloves).

You’ll immediately recognise garlic that is likely to have a green germ inside. It is the older garlic you buy that has a tight casing and it can be difficult to separate the bulbs with a sharp knife without cutting into them. It is as if the skin around the bulb has dried out and has become papery. Young garlic is pink with a flexible sheeny casing and the bulbs pop out easily.

Here’s our take on it.

We find the green germ is bitter if you are using the garlic raw in a dressing but you won’t notice it if you cook the garlic because it mellows and gets lost among other flavours in the dish. You only need to go to the fiddly bother of removing it if you are using the garlic raw.

If you are one of those people who is always throwing away garlic that you haven’t used, why not make our simple-to-make garlic oil – you can make it in minutes with a bullet blender or food processor, it lasts up to a week in the fridge and you have chopped garlic and/or garlic oil to add to a dish without having to cut garlic fresh each time. Use a spoon or two make a quick Italian classic dish of Spaghetti with Oil and Garlic (Spaghetti Aglio et Olio).

Read how to reduce the pungency of garlic in your cooking.

GARLIC TIP: Cut garlic on top of the salt that you are going to use to season the dish. The salt will catch the pungent juices of the garlic, save your clean-up and the juices will end up in the dish.



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