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Garlic roots are slender, elongated, and delicate, extending from the base of the developing, underground bulb. The roots grow in all directions and average 12 to 14 centimeters in length, sometimes extending up to 30 centimeters. When the roots are pulled from the soil and washed, they generally appear in an entangled grouping of approximately 40 to 60 roots, depending on the plant's maturity. Garlic roots are smooth, hairless, and are found in shades of white to ivory when cleaned, sometimes displaying tan to light brown tones left from the soil. The roots can be very thin, tender, and have a crisp, snap-like quality. Garlic roots are milder than garlic bulbs and contain a mellow, sweet, and subtly pungent flavor reminiscent of green garlic. When cooked, the roots develop an even softer consistency and a nutty-sweet taste.
Garlic roots are harvested in the spring through early summer.
Garlic roots, botanically classified as Allium sativum, are the long, slender taproots of the garlic plant, belonging to the Amaryllidaceae or lily family along with chives, shallots, and onions. The roots descend from the developing bulb during the plant’s growing cycle, generally in the fall and winter before the ground freezes, and when the plant is pulled early, the tender roots can be used as a unique culinary ingredient. Garlic roots are generally considered rare and are not commonly found in commercial markets, as growers remove the roots during the harvesting process. Despite their rarity, the edible roots are not a new culinary ingredient and have historically been utilized in Asian cuisine for thousands of years. Garlic roots can be harvested from hardneck or softneck garlic varieties and are highly favored for their subtle flavoring and crisp consistency. The roots can also be sold by themselves or found still attached to green garlic, traditionally sold through farmer’s markets and specialty grocers. Since it is not a commonly harvested item, many chefs, restaurants, and those interested in acquiring roots make requests with garlic growers for a special harvest of the roots.
Garlic roots contain allicin, a compound shown to reduce inflammation and provide antibacterial and antifungal properties. Like the bulbs, the roots are also a source of fiber to stimulate the digestive tract, magnesium to regulate blood pressure, and vitamin C to strengthen the immune system.
Garlic roots contain a mild, sweet, and subtly spicy flavor well suited for both fresh and cooked applications such as frying, sautéing, and stir-frying. When raw, the roots can be incorporated into green salads, layered into sandwiches for added crunch, or utilized as a fresh topping over hummus, guacamole, vegetables, pasta salads, and grain bowls. Garlic roots can also be infused into oils for a light flavoring, or they can be pickled as a tangy condiment. In addition to raw preparations, Garlic roots can be lightly sauteed with other vegetables as a savory side dish, browned in butter and served with seafood, stirred into soups, or mixed into legume, potato, or pasta dishes. The roots can also be cooked into eggs, stir-fried into main dishes, fried to develop a crisp texture, or tossed in as a finishing touch in noodles and rice-based dishes. The long, delicate roots add elevated visual and textural components into dishes, providing an artistic, abstract element. Garlic roots may also still be attached to the young bulb and greens. The entire stalk with the roots can be cleaned and combined into sauces and used as a flavoring. Garlic roots pair well with spring vegetables such as asparagus, morels, green herbs, peas, fava beans, leeks, and fiddlehead ferns, other mushrooms, Brussel sprouts, beets, ginger, tofu, and seafood such as scallops, fish, prawns, and mussels. Fresh Garlic roots will keep 2 to 7 days, depending on freshness, when wrapped in a paper towel and stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator. If the roots are still attached to green garlic, they can be placed in a glass of water, covered with a plastic bag, and stored for 7 to 10 days in the refrigerator.
Garlic roots are commonly consumed in regions of China during New Year festivities. In traditional Chinese medicine, garlic is believed to warm the digestive tract, helping to detox the body and eliminate harmful microorganisms. All parts of the garlic plant have been used in China since ancient times, and Garlic roots are a less common specialty ingredient incorporated into holiday meals. Garlic roots are primarily fried as a crisp side dish, or they are incorporated into stir-fries for added flavor and texture. Households incorporate Garlic roots into Chinese New Year dishes as the roots provide balance to more decadent dishes and help promote digestion to cleanse the body from the heavier meals. Garlic symbolizes prosperity, and the bulbs are also hung in doorways during the holiday, believed to help grow businesses.
Garlic is believed by experts to be a descendant of a wild species native to the Caucasus Mountains between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea of Central Asia. The entire plant has been used as a medicinal and culinary ingredient for over 7000 years, and Garlic roots have been utilized for as long as the garlic plant has been in existence. While the roots are not a widespread commercial item, they are growing in popularity among chefs in Europe, Asia, and North America. Garlic roots have also become a favored ingredient in the farm-to-table, no waste movement, encouraging home gardeners to use all parts of the plant in culinary applications. Today Garlic roots are challenging to find and are sold through select online retailers, specialty grocers, and farmer’s markets worldwide.
Recipes that include Garlic Roots. One is easiest, three is harder.
|About Food||Dehydrated Green Garlic Roots|
|So Savoureaux||Eggs and Garlic Roots|