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Seasonal Eats: Get Your Green Garlic!

Green Garlic Signals the Beginning of Spring (Heather Parlato/LAist)
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While we're still a bit shy of the official start to spring, every article I've read on the arrival of green garlic would beg to differ, as it's availability is widely considered the first sign of season. What exactly is green garlic? It's the first crop of garlic we get in the spring season, having a bulb at the bottom that has not yet split into cloves, and long green scallion-like stalks. It's also called young garlic, and sometimes sellers will opt for selling just garlic greens or garlic scapes (immature flower stalks), which are the greens detached from the bulb. Technically, it's picked at this stage as a way to thin out crops, but garlic at this age is highly aromatic with a very mild flavor, so it can be used differently than the mature cloves, while the greens can be used as you would scallions or chives, reserving the more fibrous tops and roots reserved for soup stock.

Garlic is something we can enjoy all year after drying, but what makes young garlic so exciting is that it's only around for about a month in spring, and it's so mild you can eat it raw in salads, on sandwiches and in pastas. It's fine to use young garlic any way you'd normally use garlic cloves, though you can use much more if you like, and reduce the cooking time, since the fresh bulbs are more delicate than cloves. I don't have unique info on young garlic, but in general, raw garlic is a good source of Calcium, Phosphorous, and Selenium, and a very good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Manganese. Garlic is also highly anti-inflammatory, boasting antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal activity, with citations of medicinal use as old as the Bible. In the garden as well, planting garlic as a companion can help throw pests of other plants off the aroma, acting as a natural deterrent. However, as many pet owners know, the onion family can be unsafe for ingestion, so it's best to fence off the garden from outdoor pets.