Did you know that you can regrow garlic? Most people don’t look at the paper-covered cloves and immediately think of lush, green plants. Fortunately, garlic sprouts (also known as scapes) are absolutely delicious, and easy to grow. Read on to learn how to grow them and use them in all kinds of delicious dishes.
Yes, You Can Regrow Garlic
When I was young, our kitchen windowsill was lined with avocado pits in water. These were suspended in glasses, and sprouting in the bright sunlight. I thought it was magical: something only avocados could do. But I was wrong. It turns out you can sprout a lot of vegetable odds and ends! These days, my kitchen window shelf is a sprouting wonderland of kitchen scraps growing green in the sun.
We don’t sprout avocados, since I don’t have my mother’s bright plant room to house them in. Instead, I’ve found that smaller, hardier sprouting scraps are best for our little woodland kitchen. My favorites are garlic, scallions, and beets, but don’t be afraid to test the waters. There are so many options that can be regrown easily. Lettuce, bok choi, and fennel are just a few options, though fresh baby turnip greens are fabulous too.
We don’t sprout these pretty little kitchen friends for their roots: just for the stems. They look adorable all lined up along the window, and they taste delicious in recipes like biscuits and quiche.
Garlic Sprouts, Really?
If you’ve never grown garlic, the idea of eating the slim, green stalk of a garlic plant can seem a bit strange. Are these sprouts even edible? Yes, they are! Garlic stalks are light, fresh, and well, quite garlicky in flavor. They taste like garlic chives, or like a milder version of garlic scapes.
If you’re in the middle of a late, northern spring, or gearing up for another long winter with a garden long gone to bed, regrow garlic and other sprouts for a breath of fresh air.
Green onion stalks and new beet greens may be shocking favorites as well. If you’re uncertain, just remember that the new growth of scallions is just a second round of life from the plant. For example beet greens taste very similar to Swiss chard.
Don’t be afraid to give them all a try. Let these new friends grow up alongside your little, green garlics and then toss them all into a stir-fry together!
How Does it Work?
Sprouting garlic, scallions, and beet greens is just like sprouting avocado pits! But may you’re not used to seeing rows of plant parts suspended in water on your window ledge. Regrowing these can feel a little intimidating at first, so let me give you a little guidance.
First and foremost, re-growing any kind of vegetable or herb should involve fresh water. Change the water your plant is sitting in at least once a week to keep it fresh. You can also add a small amount of rooting hormone to the water if you want your windowsill plants to continue growing.
In fact, this is a great option for you to try, especially for vegetables you want to transplant into soil after a month or so on the counter.
All you need to get started is a clear glass jar or cup, fresh water, and a sprout-able vegetable. I’ll give a walk- through of my favorites here, but don’t let me limit you. You’ll notice the how-to part is very similar with each plant. Once you get used to growing one type, figuring out the others will be a piece of cake.
Did you know that green onions are amazingly pretty when they sprout? Well, they are! After you’ve chopped up the leafy stalk of the scallion, just pop the root in a clear jar of water. Don’t let the water cover the entire bulb, though: leave a bit sticking up into the air. Plants need to breathe too!
If you need to, you can poke the scallion bulb with toothpicks, and rest those on the edge of the jar to hold the bulb up out of the water. It’s usually not necessary though, especially if you’re sprouting more than on onion. I like to cluster a few—not too tightly—into a jar.
They look gorgeous in the sunlight, and these bulbs support each other. Quite a few can share a jar, just remember to change the water twice a week. Stick three to five in a little jam-jar and let them grow together in the sunlight.
Within a couple of weeks, your scallions should be tall enough to harvest. Just chop off some of the fresh, green tops and leave your bulbs in the water for a new crop of leaves.
I like throwing these tasty tips into frittatas and quiches. They have a light, green, onion flavor that adds a tangy freshness to dishes. They’re also great on top of creamy potato soups, or as a garnish with yogurt on homemade curry!
Whether you’re slicing up beets for roasting, pickling, or adding to smoothies, save the top 1/8 to 1/4 of the root and the greens together. Place this part, cut side down in a shallow dish of water. I like using a low, wide little condiment dish. If you’re sprouting from a larger beet, you may need something larger, like a brandy snifter!
Keep in mind that low, shallow dishes can’t hold a lot of water. As such, keep an eye on the level and refresh the water as needed. Change the water completely every few days so your beet doesn’t drink up water that’s less than fresh.
Harvest the beet greens as they grow, but make sure you leave a few behind each time you harvest. Your little counter-top beet won’t produce greens forever, but it will last for up to three months with care!
These tender, young beet greens are ideal in smoothies and soups. Even better, beets are known for their countless heart-healthy properties. The root and greens are great for reducing high blood pressure, and the greens themselves are high in iron and vitamin A. Top a salad with baby beet greens or toss them in right at the end of a stir fry for an extra boost of flavor as well as nutrition.
How to Regrow Garlic
The technique to regrow garlic is a little bit different from those mentioned above. First and foremost, you can’t grow bulbs in the water like you can with scallions or turnips. What you can grow are garlic stems.
Sprouting garlic in water is rather like sprouting an avocado. Since you can’t immerse the bulb, you’ll have to use toothpicks to balance your clove so it’s only slightly immersed in the water. Submerge the root end, and don’t let the water reach higher than halfway up the glove.
Personally, I like to use mini jam jars for sprouting garlic. Possibly because I have so many of them! Try to select cloves that already have a tiny sprout of green peeking out. These will sprout more quickly, and they’ve already proven that they’re healthy and capable of new growth.
Poke just a bit of a toothpick into the side of your clove—just enough to convince it to stay in place. Once you have three toothpicks in place, evenly spaced around the clove, rest the “spokes” on the edge of the jar.
Your clove is now balancing in the water! In two to three days, you’ll notice the green sprout starting to grow taller. After about a week, it should have grown enough that you can start snipping off segments to use. The mild flavor of sprouted garlic is delicious in homemade potato salad. My favorite use, however, is in garlic-cheddar biscuits.
Recipe: Garlic-Cheddar Biscuits
Mix up 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, and a half-cup of grated, sharp cheddar cheese. Cut in 6 tablespoons of butter until the butter is about the size of small pebbles. Then, toss in about 1/4 cup of minced garlic stalks. Pour in about 2/3 of a cup of milk, and mix until everything is just combined.
Roll out your biscuit dough and cut it into rounds, hearts, or other fun shapes. You can also just drop small scoops of dough on a sheet for craggy, hearty-looking biscuits.
Bake these at 450 for about 12-15 minutes. At this point, you should see the cheese turning a beautiful, rich golden brown. When they’re done, eat them while they’re still hot. These biscuits pair well with pastured eggs in the morning, or tomato soup on rainy nights.
Simple, Beautiful, Hygge
Nothing embodies the essence of a happy, hygge kitchen like plants growing in the sunlight. Furthermore, few plants are easier to grow, or more immediately rewarding than the sprouted ends of your favorite vegetables! Whether you have acres of garden right outside the door, or you’re building your cozy haven in a studio apartment, re-growing is a joy.
You can’t regrow garlic forever, but you’re almost guaranteed a few months of regular harvests. Just keep the water fresh and the sunlight streaming in. Then, harvest those sprouts as garnish for hearty soups, delicious frittatas, and more!