Ask a Chef : what are the green things that grow in garlic?

Growing garlic scapes (Photo by: Grongar/Flickr)

Question: What are the green things that grow in a clove of garlic? Does it change the taste?

Answer: The green thing  inside that is sometimes found in a garlic clove is the sprout.  Over time, garlic matures and sprouts.  Sometimes, you even see the sprouts coming out of the garlic head, but this is only when the garlic has been sitting out for a long time.  These sprouts are the the beginnings of garlic scapes.

The green part tends to be a hint bitter when sauteed, so it’s best to remove it before cooking.  Because it has a small diameter, it may burn more easily as well.  Removing it is fairly simple – it can be done by pulling it out with your fingers or prying it out with a pairing knife.  Of course, the ideal solution is to look for garlic that is in good shape. When at the grocery store, seek garlic that is very firm when you squeeze it.

If you are a patient person, you can actually plant these cloves with the sprout.  Over time, they will yield garlic scapes. Periodically harvest the scapes to encourage growth and you’ll have plenty to make a great pesto.  Over a period of months, they’ll even develop into a full head of garlic.

Matt Kantor is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York. He has worked in kitchens including Picholine (New York), Gayle and Tangerine (Philadelphia), and Fenouil (Portland). He now works in Toronto and runsLittle Kitchen, a catering company that will cook fantastic food in your own home. He also cooks for the monthly event, Secret Pickle Supper Club. Follow Matt on Twitter.

If you have a culinary question, email us at We’ll have a new “Ask a chef” question every other week.

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Comments ( 3 )

woah woah woah! i can grow garlic scapes from them? i am so trying that! inside of course, away from the beasts in my backyard.

yasmin added these pithy words on Aug 06 10 at 1:56 pm

Haha Yasmin, damn squirrels. Are they your only enemies or do you have to deal with other creatures, too?

Andrea added these pithy words on Aug 06 10 at 4:05 pm

Yum! I first discovered Garlic Scapes at the Farmer’s Market in Ottawa! The ‘Garlic Lady’ there did everything with them!! Made Garlic Scape Pesto, Garlic Scape Salsa, a Garlic Scape Cream Cheese Dip, and of course Sautéed Scapes. They are delish! When I live in Canada, I can’t wait to buy them – and if I remember correctly, pretty cheap!

Iris added these pithy words on Sep 17 10 at 2:34 pm

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