Okay, before we get into this little tip, I want to make it clear: garlic isn’t poisonous. It’s a false rumor spread around, just like the apple and apricot seeds being toxic rumor. I don’t fully understand why people circulate misinformation, but they do. All we can do is dispel it. But there is a little bit of grossness around garlic.
First, more than half of garlic grown in China (and often sold in the United States) is actually grown in human feces. I don’t need to tell you how terrible that is for us. After several large shipments of Chinese garlic were detained in the USA due to mold and insect infestation, China and other nations that sell us their garlic have begun to bleach and fumigate their garlic with methyl bromide, a highly toxic pesticide that has been banned in some areas. Gross… Of course, the real important thing to do here is buy your garlic from the farmer at the farmer’s market or at least make sure the garlic you’re buying in the store is domestically, if not locally grown, as well as organically grown.
When garlic sprouts those little green chutes, it’s commonly thought that it’s an indication that the bulb is past its prime and maybe even toxic. That is absolutely not the case. A rather impressive study funded by Korea’s Institute of Planning and Evaluation for Technology, which was recently published in the ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, indicates that sprouted garlic has even more antioxidant activity than unsprouted garlic.
Plants are very susceptible to attack from bacteria, viruses, and insects during sprouting,” Says Jong-Sang Kim, a researcher with the study. “This causes them to produce a variety of chemicals called phytoalexins to defend themselves. Most of these are toxic to microorganisms and insects, but beneficial to human health.”
Kim’s group suggests that a similar process is occurring when garlic cloves begin to grow. They found that garlic extracts from sprouted garlic had the highest antioxidants, and fresh, raw garlic had less. The sprouting also changed the metabolite profile of garlic.
Not only that, but you can actually plant garlic that’s begun to sprout. If you plant in the autumn, usually September or October, you’ll have a full harvest ready by summer of the next year. Just wait until the leaves begin to yellow, then harvest.