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When using garlic cloves for pretty much anything, is it ever necessary to cut the slightly brown end off (that which connects to the head), or the middle out? Often times when I peel a garlic clove and cut into it I'll notice that the middle portion is slightly to moderately green and I'm always wondering if this should be discarded along with the brown end(s). If there are obvious blemishes in the garlic I'll remove those, but other than that is there a general rule of thumb?

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up vote 16 down vote accepted

The green in the center can have a bitter taste, and many chefs prefer to remove them. If the taste and color don't bother you, it will not cause problems for the dish.

The brown end tends to a have a harder consistency than the rest of the clove, so may cause a problem depending on how you cook the garlic. If you're cooking it in a manner that leads to a very soft and mushy piece of garlic, you'd be better off discarding it. (Boiling in soup, for example.) It probably would not make much of a difference if you were browning the garlic for a topping.

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That summarizes my understanding as well. In practice I never remove the green sprout unless it is so big that it practically falls out anyhow. –  Michael at Herbivoracious Aug 12 '10 at 18:06
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I only ever use the white parts of the clove; the hardened brown bit doesn't taste good, and the green bit is the sprout, which I don't think tastes good, either.

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If you can get hold of fresh garlic bulbs with tender skins, the green sprout will not have had chance to grow, neither will the end of the clove be hard and brown. I suspect you could even mince the skin of a fresh garlic clove and get away with it.

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Actually, the skin of fresh garlic, I've found, doesn't have the right texture to cook properly in sautes. I haven't tried it in other dishes. –  Martha F. Aug 12 '10 at 23:27
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Travelling through Europe I came across a few cultures that believed that lingering garlic breath is caused solely by the centre sprout, hence they remove it.

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I am told that cutting garlic releases a bitter taste; therefore best to use whole.

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Why is that bitter taste? Isn't any way to avoid it other than not cutting it? –  J.A.I.L. Nov 11 '12 at 20:16
    
There may be a grain of truth in this answer. Checkout this experiment with crushed, minced and micro-planed garlic. Also see papin's answer to this question . However, I don't think it follows that you should always use whole cloves. –  Chris Steinbach Nov 13 '12 at 21:41
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