Garlic is one of those foods that has so many health benefits. Aside from being a vampire kryptonite, it is a staple in every spice cabinet. It’s flavorful, a great complement to many savory dishes, such as stir fries, meat, vegetables, and more, and has even been known to help prevent serious diseases such as dysentery and antibiotic-resistant infections and aid in lowering cholesterol levels. Even leftover garlic or extra cloves are easy to whip up into an all-purpose condiment such as garlic aioli . You definitely want to use the freshest garlic you can find when using this wonder food.
Before we get into the few tips for storing, it’s important to know that there are two main varieties: hardnecked and softnecked. Hardnecked varieties are the most common type you’ll find in supermarkets. Their cloves grow in a ring around their central stems, which means you can’t remove them easily before chopping or crushing them into recipes. Softnecked varieties have fewer cloves than hardnecks and they’re easier to peel with a knife than their cousins.
You can store garlic in several ways, depending on how long you want it to stay potent and fresh. The trick is that garlic changes its flavor and gets stronger as it ages. Fresh garlic tastes milder than dried, which is why many recipes call for fresh garlic rather than powdered or granulated forms. If left out overnight, all forms of garlic may begin to sprout and grow mold; that’s why storing them is important, so you don’t have to worry about using it up before it goes bad.
There’s nothing worse than a clove of garlic that has gone bad. That’s why we’re here! Here are several surefire ways to keep your garlic fresh for as long as possible.
How to Store Fresh Garlic So They Stay Potent
When you’re ready to store fresh garlic, these are aspects to keep in mind.
You want to ensure that your bulbs are as fresh as possible before putting them up for the winter. Fresh garlic has a bright white bulb with firm skin and tight-fitting cloves. If your garlic looks different, you may want to consider purchasing another batch of garlic from the grocery stores or farmer’s market.
When you store unpeeled garlic cloves at home, make sure that the area where you store it is free from extreme heat, humidity, and sunlight. This will help keep your whole garlic fresh for longer periods of time and prevent spoilage on your end as well.
You will also want to ensure that your storage container is big enough for all of your whole garlic bulbs so that they aren’t too crowded together or exposed to air which could cause them to rot more quickly than normal. Plastic bags and a wire basket are typically used for this purpose because they are easy to open and close when needed but still provide enough protection from external factors.
Some varieties have been bred for long-term storage, while others have been bred for taste or appearance rather than longevity. That means some varieties may not last as long as others! If possible, try different types and see which ones work best for your needs.
Best Way to Store Fresh Garlic at Room Temperature
To store fresh garlic at room temperature, place garlic heads in a paper bag or wrap them loosely in newspaper and set them on a shelf. The paper will absorb moisture from the bulbs and help prevent them from sprouting before use.
If you want to store fresh garlic for more than two weeks, place it in mesh bags in a dry place with good ventilation (but don’t seal it). The mesh allows air circulation, so the unpeeled cloves don’t mold or rot prematurely.
How To Grow Garlic Indoors and at Home – General Info and Growing Guide
Best Way to Store Fresh Garlic in the Fridge
If you’re looking for more convenience and longer shelf life, try storing your garlic in the refrigerator. It’s the best way to keep it from sprouting.
If you have a lot of garlic to store, spread it out on a baking sheet so that each unpeeled clove has enough space. Then place the baking sheet in the fridge. This allows air circulation around firm cloves, which helps prevent mold from growing on them.
If you don’t have other options, you can also refrigerate individual cloves in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. This will help keep the cloves from drying out while sitting in the fridge’s crisper drawer, but it won’t prevent the firm cloves from becoming moldy if they’re left out too long after being taken out of storage.
Just remember not to put garlic in the freezer! This is because freezing kills the enzymes that make garlic taste good. The cold temperature will also cause the frozen cloves to shrivel, sprout and develop a raisin-like texture. Though sprouted garlic is edible, it’s not ideal and offers a more bitter taste.
How to Store Peeled Garlic Cloves or Chopped Garlic
To store peeled garlic and chopped one will help extend its shelf life because it removes the outer layers of skin that contain moisture that can cause spoilage. Chopping also keeps individual cloves separated so they don’t stick together, which makes them easier to store in an airtight container or baggie.
Storing Peeled Garlic Cloves or Chopped Garlic in the Fridge
Freshly minced garlic should be used within two days if kept in the refrigerator or one day if kept at room temperature. To keep your minced garlic or peeled garlic cloves from spoiling too quickly, place it in an airtight container lined with paper towels and cover it with another layer before closing the lid tightly. This combination will absorb excess moisture that could lead to spoilage. You can also wrap your minced garlic or peeled cloves in parchment paper before placing it in an airtight container as another way to avoid moisture buildup. You can also keep chopped garlic cloves or peeled cloves in olive oil. It will last about a week up to one month this way.
Like fresh garlic, you can refrigerate chopped garlic cloves, but freezing is not recommended for long-term storage. When you freeze peeled garlic or chopped ones, it destroys most of its flavor, aroma compounds, and many vitamins and nutrients such as Vitamin C and B6. To freeze peeled garlic also increases its water content which causes it to spoil more quickly once thawed.
Storing Garlic Long-Term
If you have a large quantity of garlic that you won’t be able to use up within a few weeks, there are a lot of options for storing them and they all depend on how long you want to store it. If you’re looking to store garlic for over a year, then you can consider the methods below:
Garlic that has been peeled and chopped can be frozen in an airtight container or bag. It will keep for up to six months. If you have a lot of garlic to freeze, consider freezing it whole in water. This method works best with small head of garlic, but it also works with larger whole heads if you cut them into cloves first.
Roasted garlic can be frozen for up to one year. Simply set the garlic bulbs in a baking dish, coat them with olive oil, and roast at 350°F (175°C) for 45 minutes. Cut the tops off the bulbs and cloves once they have been cooked, then squeeze the soft garlic into an airtight freezer container. The roasted garlic can be stored in the refrigerator freezer for up to 1 week or freeze it indefinitely.
Peeled garlic clove can also be pureed with a little water and frozen in ice cube trays for easy use in recipes. To do this, freeze garlic by placing peeled garlic cloves into a blender or food processor or blender with a small amount of water. Run the machine until you have a garlic paste or puree. Place this mixture into ice cube trays and store it in the freezer, where the frozen garlic will keep for up to six months.
Drying Garlic/Dehydrate Garlic
Hang garlic bulbs or braids in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated place for several weeks until the cloves are completely dry. Alternatively, it’s best to cut it up and dry it. To do this, wash the cloves and slice them into half lengthwise thin slices. Don’t peel them. Dry individual garlic cloves in a food dehydrator or place them in a warm oven (about 200° F) for several hours until they become completely dry garlic. If you’re using an oven, turn off the heat and leave the door open slightly so they don’t get too hot. Store dried garlic in an airtight container away from sunlight and heat sources. It should last at least one year!
Garlic contains allicin, which is an antimicrobial compound that prevents spoilage by inhibiting the growth of bacteria and mold. Fermenting garlic increases allicin levels even more, making it even more potent. The process is similar to making pickles, sauerkraut, or kimchi. Just place peeled garlic in a glass jar with water and a little salt. Then, cover the jar and store it in a cool, dark place for several weeks. The result is a pungent and spicy condiment that can be used in many savory dishes.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Storing Garlic
The two primary factors to store garlic properly are temperature and humidity. Garlic must be stored at cool temperatures (40-50 degrees F) with high humidity (80%-90%).
The followings are DOs and DON’Ts for storing these bulbs:
- DO store garlic in a cool, dark, dry, and well-ventilated place.
- DO store garlic in a container that allows good air circulation, such as a mesh bag or a wooden garlic keeper.
- DO store garlic away from strong-smelling foods, such as spices or onions, because these can give off an odor that will permeate the whole head of garlic.
- DO keep garlic bulbs separated from one another to prevent them from developing mold or rotting prematurely. This is especially important if you have purchased a bag of pre-peeled garlic cloves at the grocery store, as they may be touching one another inside the bag.
- DO cover your garlic loosely with a paper towel or plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.
- While it’s okay to do it, DO avoid storing garlic in olive oil glass jar as it can develop a bacteria called clostridium botulinum, also known as botulism.
- DO choose heads with tight skin that resists breaking when pressed lightly between two fingers. The papery skin acts as a protective coating, peeled garlic will rot faster than unpeeled garlic. Avoid heads that feel soft or are beginning to loosen from their stems.
- DO cut off any green shoots from around the base of the bulb before storing it because they can lead to rot and mold growth.
- DON’T store your garlic in the refrigerator — humidity will make the cloves sprout faster than usual, causing them to lose their flavor sooner.
- DON’T store garlic in a sealed container or plastic bag, as it needs air circulation to stay fresh
- DON’T store fresh garlic in the pantry with potatoes, as these vegetables emit gases that will corrode the garlic bulb and make it rot faster than normal.
- DON’T wash or peel garlic until you are ready to use it — if moisture clings to the cloves after washing, they may start sprouting before you get around to using them.
To answer the ultimate question, “how long does garlic last?”, it’s up to six months, with proper storing conditions. Heads of garlic can only start to sprout or grow mold when exposed to light, heat, and moisture, so it’s crucial to store them properly to preserve their flavor, freshness, and shelf life. Keeping garlic in a cool, dry, and dark place is ideal. Garlic bulbs can also be stored properly in a pantry or a cupboard by putting them in a paper bag or a mesh bag.
It’s also crucial to avoid putting garlic in the refrigerator because the humidity and temperature changes inside might turn it bad. Additionally, once the whole garlic has been peeled or diced, it is preferable to use it immediately or store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container to maintain its flavor and keep it fresh for longer. You can also freeze garlic in pretty much every form: whole heads, peeled, pickled garlic and grated. However, it is not entirely advised.
At the end of the day, properly storing garlic will enable you to enjoy its tasty flavor in so many recipes. It will also assist in keeping it fresh and flavorful for a longer time.
I hope you found this article useful. Now, you have a few more tricks up your sleeves for keeping fresh garlic as fresh and as flavorful as possible for as long as you need. Regardless of your technique, proper care and storage are important for the shelf-life of all kinds of food—not just heads of garlic!
One final note on garlic storage: don’t worry too much if you find that your garlic is starting to sprout; simply chop off the shoots and continue using the bulbs as normal. As long as you aren’t letting your bulbs dry out, you’re doing fine. Happy storing!