I'm suspicious of fresh garlic I bought at the Asian market
I just began using some fresh garlic that I bought several weeks ago at the Asian market in Sandy Utah.
I was very surprised to note that the garlic cloves had not shrunk in their membranes; nor were there any of those green shoots out the top that I've often seen.
This makes me wonder: is it possible that this garlic (and by extension garlic from other markets, incl. Asian markets) has been treated somehow to prevent these things?
Anyone have any ideas?
I think the operative word here might be 'fresh', if by 'green shoots', you mean 'sprouts'. Garlic that has sprouted is past its prime (you can still use it, it is just more bitter as it ages, and is more suited to roasting, in my opinion). When the cloves start to pull away from the skin, then I know I am likely to fiind sprouts starting within the cloves, even if they are not yet visible in the tip.
But garlic is often treated to extend its life, and prevent sprouting. I could be wrong, but I've thought treated garlic was rather common in grocery stores.
Our garlic matured early last year because of the hot, dry summer, so we wound up picking it in August. We keep the heads in a couple of hanging baskets in the kitchen. A few of the cloves have shrunk a bit but by and large they're all pretty good. None of them have started to sprout. Of course this is home grown.
In addition, the garlic from China may well have been irradiated to prevent it from sprouting. This is why when you plant your garlic in the fall, you have to buy live garlic heads from reputable growers (or use your largest cloves from the year before). You cannot count on supermarket garlic sprouting and producing new heads.
I always wondered about the Chinese-grown garlic, with several heads neatly alighed in a mesh bag, all exactly the same size and shape. Something odd about all that neatness and symmetry.
That's my point exactly: this garlic was in my fridge for several weeks, thus SHOULD have had shoots. It was the lack of sprouts that made me wonder if perhaps it had been treated in some way.
On a somewhat different note, I prefer not to buy garlic from China because it's a different variety with an inferior flavor than varieties grown in the US and Europe. Buy US grown garlic if it's available. I know that Chinese garlic cannot be brought into the US with roots (one way you can tell if it's US or Chinese) because it can carry disease, but it may be irradiated or otherwise treated as well.
Forget garlic from Asian markets. Red garlic is what you want -- aka Mexican garlic in some circles. Garlic from an Asian market pales in comparison (is all white, imported from China, and comes in these hairnet looking packets). As the OP notes, they look way too perfect. Makes me wonder too. Look for garlic with at least some red streaks in them. Stay clear of the hairnet white stuff.