Picture this: You're in the process of cooking yourself a delicious meal when you notice something off about your garlic and onions. Both appear to have a green sprout growing out of them. What do you do in this situation? Is it safe to eat sprouted onion and garlic, or should you throw them in the compost? Can you get away with simply cutting the sprout off?
For answers to all our questions surrounding sprouted onions and garlic, we reached out to Isabel Maples, a nutritionist and registered dietitian with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
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"Sprouted onions and garlic are safe to eat," Maples says. "There is no toxicity danger, but taste and texture may be an issue." Specifically, the onions and garlic might taste bitter and have a mushier texture, which isn't exactly ideal. If, however, your alliums still look okay and there is enough to eat around the sprout, Maples recommends cutting them in half, from root to stem, and removing the sprout before consuming.
"Some people (like vegetarians) like to intentionally eat sprouted vegetables because the sprout part is higher in protein," Maples adds. "You can chop the sprout and use it like a green onion." Good to know!
While you can safely eat sprouted onion and garlic, you should not ingest them if they are covered in mold or going bad. "Checking the smell can help you determine if the onion or garlic should be used or tossed," advises Maples.
To prevent sprouting in the first place, you'll want to store both your onions and garlic in a cool, dark, ventilated place. The ventilation part is key, so you should place these alliums in bags with holes or lifted up on a basket so air can circulate underneath them. In both cases, the pantry is a better location than the refrigerator. You should also keep them away from fruit that gives off ethylene gas (like apples and pears) because that will make them ripen and sprout faster.
If you've got a green thumb, you might even want to consider planting your onion and garlic sprouts. After all, who wouldn't be happy with fresh onion and garlic at their disposal?