If you live near a farm that produces garlic, or in the country of France where garlic is one of the seven wonders of the culinary world, you come to know the difference between “new” and “aging” garlic.
Life as an Edible Clove is Over
We all know aging garlic. It’s that clove you pull from the head and find it slightly dry, with a very large, germ poking through one end. Poor garlic clove, it’s life as an edible clove is over. It’s just busting to grow, and giving its energy to what will become a plant. That plant will ultimately produce more fat, juicy cloves, but of course we, the garlic lover, can’t wait.
That’s when garlic sprouts comes to the rescue. I refer to it as new garlic, but it’s actually a stage before that. It hasn’t had time to even think about developing cloves. But what it gives is that inimitable garlic flavor that we all yearn for. It takes up the slack of its elders, and we have the grower to thank. For that grower has recognized what a sad spot we’d be in if we had no garlic to flavor our food, satisfy our appetites. And I like to think we, the consumer who rushes to buy garlic sprouts, is helping the grower by giving her or him a market for what she or he has thinned in the field.
The Flavor Potential
Oh! The heady flavor of this nascent garlic. It’s gorgeously filled with the potential of all that is good in garlic, from aroma to flavor. We will have it here in the markets for about a month, until we begin to get actual new garlic bulbs, usually from the garlic fields of Egypt, for none of the garlic produced in France will be bulbed yet.
No Lingering Flavor
But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. For now, we’ve got sprouts, to be used in everything from soups, to stews, to salads. And here’s a secret: if you slice them very thin, lengthwise, they’re wonderful as a crudité too, and while their flavor explodes on the palate, it doesn’t linger to disturb.