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Garlic: Main Image

Buying Tips

Fresh garlic is available year-round. Canned, dried, and powdered varieties are also available. When buying fresh, purchase firm, plump bulbs with dry skins. Avoid heads with soft or shriveled cloves, and those stored in the refrigerated section of the produce department.


Garlic is sold fresh or dried and processed into flakes and powder.

The most common varieties include the white-skinned American garlic, which is strongly flavored, and Mexican and Italian garlic, both of which are milder and have mauve-colored skins. Depending on the variety, individual cloves of American, Mexican, and Italian garlic can range from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches (1.3–3.8cm) in length.

Green garlic, available occasionally in specialty produce markets, is young garlic before it begins to form cloves. It resembles a baby leek, with a long green top and white bulb, sometimes tinged with pink. The flavor of this baby plant is much gentler than that of mature garlic.

In addition to fresh, garlic is sold as dehydrated garlic flakes (sometimes referred to as instant garlic). These are slices or bits of garlic that must be reconstituted before using, unless you are adding them to a liquid-based dish, such as soup or stew. Ground dehydrated flakes are sold as garlic powder. Garlic salt is garlic powder blended with salt and a moisture-absorbing agent.

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The information presented in the Food Guide is for informational purposes only and was created by a team of US–registered dietitians and food experts. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements, making dietary changes, or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2016.

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