We like to think of bright, fresh spring garlic as the harbinger of spring. The very earliest and first-growing part of the garlic plant, it is harvested while the plant is still immature.
Spring garlic can best be thought of as baby garlic. It looks a bit like a scallion or leak with its long green shoots, because the telltale large garlic bulb with its pungent cloves hasn’t formed yet. It may be tinged slightly pink at the base and there may be a very small bulb present. You can use both the white and tender green parts of the stalk, putting aside any yellowing or woody parts.
The flavor of green garlic is mild but distinctive with just a hint of spiciness– think stronger than a scallion but milder than regular garlic cloves. As with scallions, green garlic can be used cooked or raw in a wide array of dishes and preparations. Its versatility makes it work well in soups, salads, pestos, sauces and salad dressings.
Though traditionally a byproduct of thinning crops, green garlic is growing in popularity and is now increasingly grown as a crop in its own right. It is available from growers and at the farmers markets starting in March in warmer climates and into July in cooler ones. It starts to come into season in early March here in the heat of the Sacramento region, and we often procure ours from growers in the Capay Valley like Capay Organics and River Dog Farms.