Why Is My Garlic Purple?

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Why Is My Garlic Purple?

Picture this. You’ve been planning a big and stupendous meal. Maybe it’s for a birthday, or valentines, or any other important occasion. You bought all your ingredients, you’ve donned your apron, and set off to work. 

Everything is going great so far. The meat (or veggies for the vegans and vegetarians) is/are cooked to perfection.

The aroma of the food fills the air and you can’t wait to receive all those compliments for your hard work. Yummy noises impending. 

You only have the side, some garlic and herb potatoes,  left to do. So, you run to grab the bulb of garlic you bought as the recipe calls for…but it’s purple. What do you do? 

It’s too late to run to the store, the rest of the food will burn. And you can’t make garlic potatoes without the garlic! The whole meal will be ruined…

or so you think. 

The truth is, in most cases, that purple garlic is still absolutely fine to use. There are a whole host of different reasons why this might have happened.

So, to save you from the feeling of impending doom or severe stress when you grab that purple bulb, I thought I’d go over exactly why your garlic may turn this color, as well as how to figure out when your garlic has gone past its use-by date. 

Let’s get straight into it! 

Types Of Garlic

Okay, first things first, it’s probably worth mentioning that there are actually two different types of garlic; white and purple. 

White garlic is most likely the garlic that you are most familiar with. The one that is likely to be on sale in your local grocery stores. As you’d expect white garlic has white cloves. 

Purple garlic, on the other hand, tends to have a thin layer of purple skin around the gloves.

Once you peel this skin back the cloves will still be white and are perfectly safe for cooking and consumption. Typically, you’ll tend to find this kind of garlic at farmers’ markets. 

Why Your Garlic Might Have Turned Purple 

In my introduction, I mentioned that there can be several different causes that can result in your garlic turning purple. I thought I’d take the time to go over these causes in a little more detail. 

Now, it’s a perfectly common misconception that your garlic turning purple means that it’s gone off. And I can definitely see the thought process behind it since a change in color can often be an indicator of food turning bad

However, this doesn’t tend to be the case with garlic. In fact, if anything, it’s likely that your garlic now has a much stronger flavor. 

Garlic, you see, has a tendency to turn purple when it is mixed with other acidic ingredients like vinegar or lemon juice.

Your cookware may also be affecting your garlic’s color, as copper, aluminum, iron, and tin all contribute to this purple tinge. 

Why Is My Garlic Purple?

Alliin is a compound found in garlic. Garlic also has an enzyme within it called alliinase.

And once crushed or chopped, the alliin and alliinase mix together to produce a compound called allicin-a which is responsible for the vast majority of characteristics in garlic. 

When acidity or metallic objects are introduced to this allicin-a compound a reaction takes place which can turn the pigments of the garlic purple.

This reaction affects very little other than the color of the garlic. So, in most cases, you should still be fine to cook and consume it safely. 

If The Purple Color Isn’t An Indicator Of Spoilt Garlic…What Is?

Typically, garlic should have a pretty decent shelf life. As long as it is stored correctly, you can easily get a couple of months out of it.

However, in the event that you don’t use it all up before it goes bad here are a few things to look out for. 

  • Change In Smell – When garlic starts to lose its freshness, it also begins to lose its smell. If it doesn’t have that pungent garlicky aroma, or even worse, begins to take on a rather unpleasant smell then it’s probably not fit for use. 
  • Change In Firmness – Fresh garlic is typically quite hard and firm. If you press it between your fingers it should retain its shape easily. If it becomes soft or squishy, then it’s time to throw it away. If after peeling you notice any liquid, this is another indicator that it’s gone bad. 
  • Development Of Brown Spots – While a purple color is no cause for concern if you start to notice brown spots on your garlic, it’s likely that it is out of date. Brown spots are like warning signs saying this is no longer fresh. Cooking garlic with brown spots will leave a bitter taste that you will not enjoy. 
  • The Inside Turns Yellow – If the inside of the garlic has turned a yellowish color, then you won’t want to use it either. This will also give your food a very unpleasant bitterness. 

How Best To Store Your Garlic

Here are a few tips to get the most out of your garlic. 

  • Dry & Dark – You want to store your garlic in a cool, dark, and dry space. But don’t opt for the refrigerator as that can actually encourage mold growth and rotting. 
  • The Only Exception – The only exception to the rule above is for minced garlic. Minced garlic will have a longer lifespan when stored in the refrigerator
  • Don’t Freeze It – Frozen garlic loses its potency, taste, and aroma. 

Final Thoughts

As you’ve learned from this article, there is no need to panic if your garlic has a purple tinge to it. It’s still safe to eat and in most cases will actually taste nicer and stronger. 

Hopefully, now, you should know exactly what to look out for in terms of gone-off garlic. But considering it takes months for garlic to lose it’s freshness, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.  

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Video: Purple Garlic Picone

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