Putting all the vampire and first date jokes aside, garlic will always hold a special place in our kitchen. In fact, given how much mocking it gets and the fact that we still include it in so many meals is testament to its greatness.
So today I’m not going to be singing its praises (goodness knows we already know how good it is) but instead I’m going to be talking about garlic germ and how to remove it.
First up, we aren’t talking a bacteria/virus kind of germ, but more botanical. The germ is the small sprout in the middle of each garlic clove. If the garlic bulb was to be planted in the garden this germ would be the sprout that would poke its way up through the soil into the sunshine above.
Now this wonder of nature is excellent for keeping garlic’s production up but what about in the kitchen? The germ imparts an unpleasant pungency to dishes which is why it is sometimes good to remove, but it’s an extra step and isn’t always necessary so let’s break it all down.
There are a couple of factors to consider:
Not yours – but the garlics. Generally speaking garlic is fresh in Australia from the end of Spring through all of Summer. If your garlic is fresh the germ would not yet have developed much and so will be less noticeable in appearance and also, importantly, in taste. This means it is less crucial to remove the germ from young garlic. Once the warmer season is finished the markets and stores will be selling garlic that has been stored/dried. This is fine (after all it allows us to enjoy garlic all year round) but this is when it may be more crucial to locate the germ and remove it. You will know if your garlic is older because there will be a noticeable germ in the middle which you can gently dig out with the tip of a sharp knife. If the garlic is particularly old the germ will have also stated to turn green in colour.
2. What’s Cookin’
Removing the garlic germ from garlic does involve an extra step in the kitchen and so it is a good idea to determine if it is needed. Some recipes will already have thought of this and instruct you to remove the garlic’s germ, however not many go into this detail. For recipes that contain a high ratio of garlic (like this recipe for tapenade) removing the germ is a good idea. If, on the other hand, the garlic plays a relatively small part in the recipe (like this recipe for hummus), then it is less crucial for the garlic germ to be removed as the harshness will be less pronounced.
Check out our handy tutorial on how to remove garlic germ below.