If you’re a garlic lover like myself, you probably use it in everything from stews to many other meat-based and veggie dishes. Because let’s face it – garlic is so aromatic and punchy! In this case, you probably have some in your kitchen that you probably do not know how to store for as long as you’d like.
Garlic may be inexpensive, but that doesn’t mean you could waste it and make extra shopping trips to buy more fresh garlic. Because at Paofoodmedicine, we advocate using fresh ingredients as much as possible, including inexpensive ingredients.
Table of Content
- What Are the Best Tips for Storing Whole Garlic
- Can You Keep Garlic in the Fridge?
- Is It Safe to Store garlic in Oil?
- What to Do if Garlic is About to Go Bad?
How Long Can Fresh Garlic Last?
Before we discuss the ways on how to store whole garlic, let’s go through how long fresh garlic can last in your kitchen, whether it’s minced or as a whole.
Just like any other fresh fruit and vegetables that you buy, whole garlic doesn’t come with an expiration date. Hence, it’s best to have a degree of knowledge of how long fresh garlic can last!
Whole garlic will keep for up to six months when stored properly. What helps keep the shelf life is the papery layers that help protect the small garlic cloves within. Once the bulb is broken, you can expect the quality of your garlic to decrease rather quickly.
Single Unpeeled Garlic Clove
A single unpeeled clove of garlic will last about 3 weeks in a cool dark place!
Chopped or Minced Garlic
If you further chop or mince garlic clove, it has about a day of shelf life before it starts to turn bad. However, that’s if you let it be exposed to open air!
What Are the Best Tips for Storing Whole Garlic?
Knowing how to store whole garlic or minced garlic will then form a great foundation for how long they would last! So what’s the best way to keep garlic fresh in your home, whether it’s whole or mined?
Compared with many other vegetables, whole garlic will last a relatively long time no matter what. But for maximum shelf life, garlic prefers a set of specific conditions to be met.
- Fresh Garlic
- Keep it Dry
- Away from the Heat
- Enough Ventilation
The first thing you can do to make sure your garlic lasts as long as possible is to ensure the garlic that you bought at the local market is as fresh as it can be. How? Follow this guide on how you could pick the freshest garlic from your local market!
Keep It Dry
First, make sure you do not store whole garlic in plastic bags of any kind. Not only will this prevent air circulation (very important for garlic to breathe!), but it will also trap the natural moisture released from the garlic, thus accelerating spoilage.
Second, if you must refrigerate the whole garlic, do keep it in the main part of your refrigerator instead of in the crisper drawers. This is because crisper drawers are usually humid in most refrigerators. But if you really have to, you could still keep it in the crisper drawers but it has to be on the low humidity setting and preferably alone, as opposed to placing it with a bunch of other items.
Away From the Heat (Cool but not Cold)
The most crucial factor in storing whole garlic or garlic, in general, is temperature. and the best temperature to store this whole garlic is around 20 to 25 degrees celsius!
And depending on where you stay, some of your kitchens might actually have difficulties meeting this criterion. If your kitchen naturally runs at that temperature, you’re good to go! However, if it doesn’t, the best you can realistically do is to find the coolest location in your kitchen and keep your garlic there. This typically means away from any heat sources (especially sun!)
You can definitely store your whole garlic in the refrigerator, but of course for short periods! Remember – store whole garlic in cool environments and not cold for the ideal storage setting!
Why? Read the next point to find out more!
Just like us, garlic also needs to breathe to stay fresh and alive. If the whole garlic is sealed up it will start to rot and become moldy, which is the complete opposite of what you want when it comes to fresh garlic storage.
Earlier on, I mentioned storing garlic in a cool location with no direct sunlight exposure. You may think storing garlic in cardboard is a good idea but let me just warn you that there isn’t much airflow in a cupboard, much less in a drawer. So given a choice, you’d want to store whole garlic in a dark open area of your kitchen (away from the sunlight). In this way, the whole garlic is taken care of by favorable conditions – good ventilation and lack of exposure to the sun.
Can You Keep Garlic in the Fridge?
You can store whole garlic in the refrigerator, or pack sliced garlic in a container before chucking it into the fridge. But do take note that garlic stored in the fridge won’t last as long. In fact, storing whole garlic in the fridge will only result in rapid sprouting of the garlic prematurely.
Garlic is typically grown in the fall, and its roots usually grow much better when the soil is cold. This explains why when you keep garlic in the fridge, it only lasts a few weeks before sprouting, as opposed to months when stored at your kitchen countertop.
Here comes the question: Is sprouted garlic safe to eat? Yes, sprouted garlic is safe to eat! In fact, these matured garlics have a sharp flavor to their profile, but the shoots themselves can impart a bitter flavor to the overall taste. However, if you’re really concerned about eating the green sprouts of garlic, you can slice the clove of garlic in half lengthwise and simply pull the green sprout out.
Is It Safe to Store garlic in Oil?
You may or may not have heard of this concern revolving around the safety of keeping garlic in different types of fats, especially olive oil.
Regardless, you might be thinking why? The concern with storing garlic in oil is that garlic is a low acid vegetable, which makes it ideal for culturing a type of bacteria that causes botulism.
Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a toxin that causes difficulty in breathing, muscle paralysis, and even death. This toxin is usually caused by a type of bacteria that grows and thrives in environments that are anaerobic or are unfavorable for many. As long as the bacteria is exposed to oxygen, it cannot develop the spores which secrete the toxin. However, when garlic is placed in oil, an anaerobic environment is created, and if the bacteria is present, it can cause botulism!
Contaminated garlic in oil tastes, smells and looks just like any other product that is safe, which makes it even more dangerous. For this reason, the FDA advised consumers to generally avoid garlic oil or storing minced or chopped garlic in oil!
What to Do if Garlic is About to Go Bad?
If you have a ton of garlic lying around that you don’t know what to do with them, don’t worry! Follow these simple tricks to extend the life of your garlic so you don’t have to waste them!
To keep your whole garlic as fresh as possible, you have to store them in environments away from moisture. A humid environment will cause your garlic to rot. And depending on where you live, you might not have control over this. But there are a couple of tricks you could implement.
- Chop all of your excess garlic cloves and spread the minced garlic in an even layer on a lined baking sheet and place it in the freezer! Once frozen, you can transfer them over to an air-tight container and keep it frozen until needed.
- Make an aioli. One easy way to use up your excess garlic is to cook with it. Aioli is a great way to use up a ton of extra garlic cloves and it will keep for up to a week in the fridge. Garlic aioli goes well with so many great dishes, from roasted meats to grilled veggies.
It really isn’t that difficult to store whole garlic to prolong its freshness, much less knowing how long garlic can last when the right conditions are met. Garlic can work in your favor but only if it’s allowed to, so why not take good care of the garlic and keep them fresh for as long as it’s possible with the right storage techniques?