Is Garlic a Fruit or Vegetable?

Garlic is a vegetable with the root portion eaten like an onion or a potato. Garlic grows under the ground like bulb and the root, stems and even seeds can be eaten. While garlic is vegetable it is usually used in cooking to accompany a meal. Large amounts of garlic can be too strong in flavor to eat on their own like other root vegetables.

Garlic is not a fruit because a fruit will contain seeds. Think of watermelon, apple or orange, these all contain seeds. Garlic is an allium or a relative of the onion family. The whole bulb is eaten fresh or cooked and adds amazing flavor to loads of dishes.

This article will explore all you need to know about whether garlic is a fruit or a vegetable.

Is garlic a root vegetable?

Garlic is considered a root vegetable like onions and potatoes their bulbs will grow underground and can be eaten. They take over 8 months to grow from a small clove to a fully gown garlic bulb made up of 5-10 cloves.

Why is garlic often considered a herb?

Garlic shares qualities with herbs in that the leaves and roots can be used to flavor food. Because of its strong flavor garlic is usually used in small amounts like herbs. It can even be dried and added to cooking or on the outside of cooked vegetables to add flavor.

Are all parts of the garlic edible?

All parts of the garlic are edible including the underground bulb, the leaves and even the seeds. If garlic is left in the ground, usually longer than 8-11 months it can send up a flower which will grow seed. These seeds can be saved and grown into new plants.

Garlic stems can be cut up and used fresh in salads or added to stir fries. They have a faint garlic smell and taste fresh like shallots.

Garlic is usually peeled before it is eaten because the skin is tough. You can roast whole garlic bulbs in the oven with meat and vegetables to soften the garlic and to infuse the rest of the food with garlic flavor.  

Garlic stems can be eaten when they are young. They have a mild garlic flavor.

Can garlic be eaten raw?

Garlic can be eaten raw but it can be strong in flavor. Chop it into small pieces and crush it with some salt to get it into small pieces. You can mix this crushed raw garlic in with mayonnaise, gravies or tabouli to give them a strong garlic flavor.

It is usually best to start with a small amount, like ¼ of a teaspoon and add more as you go. Adding too much garlic can be overpowering. Mix garlic through olive oil to infuse and make an easy salad dressing.

The difference between a garlic clove and bulb

Garlic cloves are the small individual pieces of garlic that can be peeled and used in cooking. A garlic bulb is a collection of cloves that grow together. They are joined at the bottom with the roots of the garlic. The garlic leaves or stems grow above the bulb.

They are green and photosynthesize to grow the bulb bigger under the ground. They take over 8 months to mature and can be harvested and stored for months after.

Garlic can be picked young and used in salads or stir fries.

How to store garlic

Garlic is a great vegetable because it can be stored for months. Once the leaves have died back or turned brown the garlic is harvested from the soil and hung to dry. You can gather bunches of garlic and hang them in a garden shed or under a verandah where they are kept dry.

Once they dry for 3-4 weeks they can be stored in a dark cupboard in a box or basket that gets plenty of air flow. You can break off individual cloves and use them in cooking and keep the rest of the clove in your fruit bowl or cupboard.

How to remove garlic skin

Garlic is a vegetable like an onion it tastes better with the skin off. You can chop the base of the clove off and gradually peel the skin off or crush the clove and peel the skin away. You can roll the clove in your hands and the skin will come away but your hands will smell like garlic afterwards.

How to get the garlic smell off your hands

Garlic is a delicious vegetable but handling it raw can lead to your hands smelling strongly like garlic. To get rid of the smell the best way is to wash your hand with dish detergent. The strong smelling dish liquid will be enough to get rid of the smell.

If your hands still smell of garlic rub them across your stainless steel sink. The chemical reaction will neutralize the smell of the garlic. You can even get stainless steel ‘soap’ which you can keep in your kitchen to use to get rid of the garlic smell.

For an easy way to roast garlic, check out the video below.

Is garlic good for me?

Garlic contains loads of insoluble fiber. Inulin is a prebiotic fiber meaning that it feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Inulin is often extracted and added to yoghurts, protein bars and drinks to add extra fiber.

Garlic itself contains loads of vitamins including vitamin c, selenium, vitamin B6 and manganese.

Is garlic a fruit or vegetable? | Summary

Garlic is a vegetable and not a fruit. While its classification is tricky, the whole bulb, leaves and seeds can even eat the garlic seeds and flowers. Garlic adds flavor like a herb and you only need to add a small amount.

You can roast it, eat it raw or even pickle it if you want. It will last for ages in your cupboard if it is kept in the dark and there is good airflow.

You can grow garlic at home by using certified disease free cloves from your local garden center or online.