Have you ever wondered, is garlic a vegetable? We often think of fruit as sweet and vegetables as savory, but botanically speaking it’s not that simple.  So in this article, we’ll clarify a few things about garlic, like is garlic a fruit or vegetable, what is a head of garlic and what is a clove of garlic.

Several heads and cloves of garlic on a brown countertop.

Next to onion, garlic is one of the most popular ingredients used around the world to add flavor to just about any dish. But is garlic a fruit or vegetable?

A small square basket filled with whole heads of garlic with cloves of garlic scattered next to the basket.

What Is Garlic?

Garlic is a member of the Allium genus family, the same family that includes onions, scallions, shallots, leeks and chives, and it is classified as Allium sativa (which means “cultivated garlic”). Each garlic bulb has several small sections called cloves or lobes, which are individually wrapped by a papery covering. Even though the leaves and flowers of the garlic plant are edible, it is the bulb with the 10-12 cloves hidden inside that is used. Garlic is often added to sauces, dressings, vinaigrettes, soups, stews, marinades, vegetables, pastas and more.

Is Garlic A Fruit Or Vegetable?

If you’re not sure if garlic is a fruit or vegetable, you’re not alone. Even though garlic is often thought of as a spice, botanically speaking garlic is a vegetable.

What’s The Difference Between Fruits And Vegetables?

Fruits are the seed bearing part of a flowering plant that requires pollination to grow. Vegetables are the edible stems, roots, leaves and bulbs of a plant. There are two types of classifications – botanical and culinary.Botanical classification is based on the function and structure of the plant, while culinary classification is based on flavor and how the plant is prepared for consumption. Culinary classification of fruits and vegetables are often based on flavor – fruit is often sweet, tart of tangy and used for smoothies, desserts, jams, etc. Vegetables are often bitter tasting and used for savory meals like soups, stews casseroles and salads

Two wooden baskets filled with whole heads of garlic with cloves scattered next to the boxes. (For is garlic a vegetable).

How Do You Choose The Best Garlic?

You want to choose garlic that is sold loose, so you can pick and choose the best bulbs. Garlic bulbs should be firm without any broken skins. Avoid bulbs that are moist or have soft spots or bulbs that feel light and hollow when gently squeezed. This indicates that the cloves inside may have dried out. A firm bulb with large cloves should indicate that the garlic inside is fresh and will be flavorful. Garlic bulbs with green sprouts means the cloves inside may have a mild flavor, so you may need to add more cloves to your recipe to compensate the lack of flavor. To prevent garlic from sprouting, garlic bulbs should be kept in a dark but airy place.

What Is A Head Of Garlic?

A head of garlic, also called a garlic bulb is wrapped in a thin paper-like covering. Inside each head contains about 10-12 individual cloves (also called lobes) hidden inside. Each one of these cloves is also individually wrapped in this thin paper-like covering and they vary in size.

What Is A Clove Of Garlic?

Inside each head (or bulb) of garlic contains about 10-12 individual cloves (also called lobes). Depending on the type of garlic and the size of garlic, some garlic bulbs may contain more or less cloves.

How Many Cloves In A Head Of Garlic?

There are typically 10-12 cloves of garlic in each head, depending on the type of garlic and the size. Larger bulbs may have fewer cloves inside, like the Elephant garlic which has about 4 cloves.

How Many Teaspoons In A Clove Of Garlic?

One clove of minced garlic typically equals 1 teaspoon, depending on the type of garlic and the size. Most often, a recipe will call for a number of cloves rather than a measurement of garlic.

What Are Good Substitutes For Garlic?

Dried garlic, shallots, green onion and chives all make good substitutes for garlic.  Dried garlic comes in several different forms, such as minced, flakes, powder, granules and salt. Each of these makes a good choice if you need to substitute garlic cloves.

  • Minced Garlic – Use 1/2 teaspoon jarred minced garlic to replace 1 garlic clove.
  • Dehydrated garlic flakes – Use 1/2 teaspoon dehydrated garlic flakes to replace 1 garlic clove.
  • Garlic powder – Use 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder to replace 1 garlic clove.

Garlic Recipes

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