Green garlic—also called young garlic or spring garlic—may look like scallions. But they are the immature, spring version of the cured bulbs available year-round.
Harvested when young, green garlic looks like scallions (a.k.a. green onions). The bulb has not yet begun to separate into cloves (photo #1).
At this stage in its youth, the whole plant is edible. It has a sweeter, milder flavor than fully cured garlic bulbs/heads (photo #4).
If left in the ground to to grow, the bright green tops die off after the bulbs underground have rounded out into the bulb/head.
When the mature heads are dug up and hung up to dry, the papery cellulose layers around and between the cloves of the bulb form a protective layer that enables the heads to stay in storage for up to a year.
When garlic is young and green, the whole plant is edible, like a scallion. It has a sweeter, milder flavor than when the garlic bulbs are fully cured.
Green garlic often looks so similar to green onions and spring onions, that the best way to identify green garlic is simply to take a sniff. It will smell of garlic rather than onion.
Another giveaway: Green garlic leaves are flat (photo #1); scallion leaves are tubular.
Use green garlic raw or cooked, wherever you’d like subtle garlic flavor. Prepare it as you would a scallion, and use it in:
Use it wherever you’d use regular bulb garlic or green onions, or use it in recipes specifically designed to grilled, or pickled. Add it to a frittata, a soup, or pair it with other spring treats like asparagus. Put green garlic in pasta, a rice bowl (don’t forget to pick up pea shoots),
Our personal favorite is a saute of asparagus, green garlic, morels, ramps and spring peas. Made with butter or olive oil, we can eat an entire batch of it on noodles or grains.
Scapes are the curling shoots of young garlic plants (photo #3). They will grow into green garlic.
For decades they were cut off in the fields and thrown away, to allow the garlic bulbs to grow larger, before growers realized that chefs and foodies were eager to buy them.
The curling shoots have more intensity than green garlic, and it’s best to blanch them first. This unleashes a milder, sweeter flavor.
Just dip the scapes into salted boiling water for 30 seconds, then place them in an ice bath. You’re ready to roll.
Use garlic scapes the same ways you would green garlic.
How about some Potato, Nettle & Green Garlic Soup?
While many people use the term “green onions” for scallions, we prefer scallions. Why?
There are also spring onions, different from green onions.
Spring onions look similar to scallions a.k.a. green onions. It’s easy to confuse them.
Sometimes the easy way to tell them apart is from the bulbs: If the ends are very bulbous, it’s a spring onion. But some varieties have smaller bulbs.
Part of the confusion is that spring onions are planted as seedlings in the late fall and then harvested the next spring; hence the name.
Another source of confusion: In the U.K. countries, including Canada, spring onions are called green onions!
*Another tip: Save the infused oil from sautés and drizzle it on fish, poultry, meat, pasta and anything else you like.