What to Do With an Onion (or Garlic Clove) That Has Sprouted

Updated on November 29, 2018
Liz Lilith profile image

I always wondered what to do with those onions and garlic cloves that sprouted before I could use them. Now I know!

Is it safe to eat a sprouted onion?
Is it safe to eat a sprouted onion? | Source

Has an Onion or Garlic Head Sprouted in Your Refrigerator or Pantry?

You've probably come across this situation plenty of times— you bring home a bag of onions or some fresh whole garlic, and a week or two later, you notice that one or two (or all) of them have put out roots and green shoots. Can you still eat them or should you just throw them away? Can you plant them?

In this article, I'll give you some helpful tips on what to do with onions or garlic when they've sprouted.

Onion Sprouts. . . What to Do With Them

Can you eat a sprouted onion?

The answer is yes! The onion might get a little mushy after it sprouts, but it's not poisonous or toxic and it won't hurt you. Especially if the roots and shoots are still small, it's still perfectly good. Lots of people intentionally eat the sprouts since they have more protein (so they're popular with vegetarians and vegans). Some people even like the taste of sprouted onion, but some think the shoots are too bitter.

What should I do with an onion sprout?

Just chop the sprout off (unless you want to eat it— take a taste to decide), cut the onion in half, and remove any remnants of the shoots. Of course, you should also check for mold and rot.

What if the onion is sprouted and moldy?

The only exception is if the onion is seriously consumed by mold or rot. Don't eat a moldy onion. But if there's only a little mold on one part of it, just chop off the bad, mushy bits and eat the rest.

How can I prevent an onion from sprouting?

Your onions are just like the bulbs you plant in the garden. They should remain dormant until conditions are right for sprouting. Keep it in a cool, dry, dark, well-ventilated area.

How should I store onions?

Store onions in a cool, dry, dark spot with good air circulation to prevent them from growing. Keep them separate from other fruits and veggies, since their ripening produces ethylene gas which encourages onions to sprout. Keep in mind that if they've sprouted, they will rot much more quickly.

Can you plant a sprouted onion?

If you separate the sprouts inside the onion's layers and plant them in potting soil, you can grow new onions. So yes, if you plant a sprouted onion, will you get more onions! Below, I share step-by-step directions for planting them in a pot or in the garden.

Is it safe to eat a sprouted garlic?
Is it safe to eat a sprouted garlic? | Source

Sprouted Garlic. . . What to Do With It

Can you eat a garlic that has sprouted?

Yes, you can! Like onions, garlic that has sprouted is perfectly safe to eat. It's not poisonous or toxic. Garlic shoots are bitter, but they won't hurt you.

How can I eat sprouted garlic?

Cut the green shoots out if you want to avoid that bitterness, or leave them in if you like it.

What if the sprout is really long?

The longer the sprout gets, the mushier and less tasty the garlic will be. It's a matter of taste and texture, but not toxicity. Give the clove a little pinch and decide if it feels too mushy to eat.

How can I prevent my garlic from growing shoots?

If you keep garlic in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place, it won't sprout nearly as quickly.

How should I store garlic?

Break the bulb of garlic into individual cloves and store it in a cool, dark, well-aired place.

Can I plant a sprouted garlic bulb and grow fresh garlic?

Yes, you can. Scroll down for step-by-step instructions.

Not only will your sprouted onion make new onions, but it will also produce a lovely flower.
Not only will your sprouted onion make new onions, but it will also produce a lovely flower. | Source

How to Plant a Sprouted Onion (and What to Expect)

  1. Select healthy-looking sprouted onions in 8"-12" pots, one per pot. Be sure to cut off any moldy, rotted, or pitted parts before planting, taking care to maintain the roots and the core of the bulb.
  2. Fill each pot with potting mix, leaving a couple of inches of space at the top.
  3. Make a hole in the center of the dirt that is about the width and depth of the onion.
  4. Carefully place each onion in a pot, covering them with soil so that the base of the shoots meet the surface of the soil.
  5. Press down gently but firmly on the soil to remove air pockets.
  6. Water thoroughly until water drains from the drainage holes.
  7. Place the pots in a shaded spot for a couple of weeks. Allow them to get a little bit of filtered light, but don't put them in the sun just yet. Their roots need time to grow and adjust.
  8. After a couple of weeks, you can slowly give them more sun— partial shade at first, then full sun.
  9. Harvest sprouts as needed. You can use onion sprouts just about everywhere you would use onion, and they also make a wonderful garnish.
  10. If your sprouts put up flowers, you can wait until the flowers go to seed, then save the seeds for planting next season (unlike the parent onion, these seeds will produce more onions if planted).

To learn more, read How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Onions in the Garden.

If you plant a sprouted garlic, not only will you get fresh garlic, but you'll get lovely garlic blossoms, too.
If you plant a sprouted garlic, not only will you get fresh garlic, but you'll get lovely garlic blossoms, too. | Source

How to Plant a Sprouted Garlic Clove (and What to Expect)

  1. Select healthy-looking cloves in 8"-12" pots, one per pot.
  2. Fill each pot with potting mix, leaving a couple of inches of space at the top.
  3. Make a hole in the center of the dirt that is about the width and depth of the clove.
  4. Carefully place each clove in a pot, covering them with soil so that the base of the shoots meet the surface of the soil. You can use either sprouted or unsprouted cloves, just make sure to plant the sprouts pointed up and unsprouted cloves "pointy-end" up, about 1/2" below the surface.
  5. Press down gently but firmly on the soil to remove air pockets.
  6. Water thoroughly until water drains from the drainage holes.
  7. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged throughout the growing process; it takes about 8 months for garlic to mature.
  8. You can use the sprouts during this period (if you enjoy that bitter taste), but only a little at a time, or you'll stunt the bulbs' growth.
  9. Prune back any flowering shoots that come up initially (this helps produce larger bulbs).
  10. You will know the garlic is ready to be dug up when the tops of most of the leaves have turned yellow.
  11. You must let your plants think they've gone through winter if you want more garlic. You can achieve this naturally by planting them before the first frost, or artificially by putting them in the freezer for a couple weeks. Once you've allowed them to go through winter (or "winter"), put them out in the sun to warm up.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • profile image

        Bill Carter 

        10 months ago

        I've planted them in my yard near other flowering plants and the oniony smell keeps the deer and the squirrels away.

      • profile image

        cool 

        11 months ago

        ifi cut the sprouted leaves that grow on the garlic every three weeks, will the garlic bulb still grow

      • profile image

        hey 

        12 months ago

        does sprout shoots regrow when cut?

      • profile image

        Vikas dhama 

        13 months ago

        Excellent, thanks for this help

      • profile image

        Kim Miller 

        17 months ago

        Do you have any knowledge on native persimon trees, male tree in particular?

      • profile image

        dead guy 

        20 months ago

        I sent one to school.

      • profile image

        BuddysPal 

        22 months ago

        Excellent help. Thank you.

      • profile image

        James Wasneechak 

        24 months ago

        I'd like to know about the type of soil to place in my container, the use of straw and how to divide up the sprouting sweet potato I have, in order to have a successful harvest.

        Thanks,

        Jim Wasneechak

      • profile image

        Burkle51 

        2 years ago

        can you start this process in the house as I live in NY State and it is cold and snowy here?

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