Though garlic isn’t categorized as a bulb, it is one – a close relative of onions. Because of its strong flavor, it’s used to cook delicacies in different cultures. It’s also famous for its medicinal benefits, including improving memory and skin, and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
You can buy garlic from your local grocery store or grow it in your kitchen garden. Garlic doesn’t require much space to develop, so even those living in apartments with tiny balcony gardens can grow garlic. Whether you buy fresh garlic or grow it, storing it properly can make it last longer.
In this piece, we consider everything you need to know about storing fresh garlic.
Storing Fresh Garlic
When looking to store garlic, always start with fresh, unpeeled garlic. We cannot stress this enough. The fresher the garlic, the longer it lasts. Getting fresh garlic shouldn’t be a problem if you grow your garlic. But if you are buying from a local grocery store, you should know how to tell if the bulbs are fresh or not. Below are some quick tips:
- · Fresh garlic is firm and has papery dry skin without sprouting. However, if you notice the bulb is soft, it means that it’s overripe and won’t last long.
- · Stay away from shriveled or sprouted garlic bulbs or the frozen garlic heads that stores keep in the refrigerator section.
Dry Homegrown Garlic
Growing garlic is simple and less demanding. Provided you understand its growth cycle, get the soil nutrients and sunlight right, you’ll be self-sufficient. But after harvesting, you need to dry your garlic before storage. Drying the bulbs allows their signature flavor to develop further and get even more concentrated. Here is a simple process of how to do this:
· Clean the dirt off your recently harvested garlic and put it in a dark, moisture-free space for seven days.
Then, · Hang the stalks to dry. If you have minimal space, you can cure them vertically. And for soft neck garlic, you can braid the stalks together before hanging.
Dried garlic stores exceptionally well at room temperature and can last for many months.
Store Your Garlic at Room Temperature
Don’t be one of those who store garlic in the refrigerator. Garlic doesn’t thrive in cold temperatures but in relaxed environments of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Refrigeration is terrible for garlic because it negates your drying efforts by adding moisture to garlic and supporting mold growth.
The exception to this rule is when you are working with freshly chopped or minced garlic. Both chopped garlic and minced garlic can be refrigerated in airtight containers but only for short periods – you’ll need to consume your garlic soon if you use this method.
What about freezing? Well, that isn’t a great idea either. While it might preserve garlic for longer, frozen garlic tends to lose its flavor and consistency.
Store Garlic in a Well-ventilated Space
Storing garlic bulbs in a properly ventilated space with ample air circulation allows them to breathe and consequently prolong their storage. Note, however, that keeping your garlic fresh in winter can be more difficult, especially since heated winter homes tend to be too dry. This causes the garlic cloves to dehydrate and rivel after a while. To avoid this, store fresh garlic in a dark cabinet.
In addition to keeping the storage room well ventilated, you should keep/hold the garlic bulbs in a wire basket or use bowls with little ventilation. If you have none of these, plastic bags work great too.
It would help if you didn’t store your fresh garlic in an airtight container or plastic bag because it can lead to sprouting or molding, which reduces shelf life.
Garlic Thrives in Dry and Dark Spots
A corner in your kitchen counter would work great, as would your cupboard. However, for garlic to sprout, garlic needs moisture and sunlight. As such, it’d be best if the corner you choose is moisture-free and away from sunlight.
Use Garlic After You Break the Bulb
Garlic storage life is significantly reduced when you break the bulb. It’s like you’ve started a timer on the remaining cloves. Usually, an unbroken garlic bulb can last about eight weeks with proper storage. However, once the papery skin is broken, the bulb lasts between three and ten days. So if the garlic starts feeling soft or it starts sprouting, you know it’s time to throw the peeled garlic cloves in a bin.
New-season Garlic is Stored Differently
If you are a garlic grower and would like to save some of your harvest for the following planting season, refrigerating the bulbs is essential. To ensure that process runs smoothly, here are steps on how to properly store regular garlic.
If you want a subtle garlic flavor in your dishes without the intense aroma and taste, young wet garlic is just what you need. You can use it right out of the ground as there’s no need to dry or store it for long; refrigerate it up to one week instead! Also, if leeks and onions inspire too much heat for your liking in meals, this alternative might be exactly what you’re looking for.
Other Methods of Storage
Not only does garlic transform the flavor and texture of a dish, but it is also an excellent way to preserve unused cloves. Whether you don’t use garlic regularly or have leftovers that need storing, freezing it is your ideal solution! You can choose from two approaches when putting garlic in the freezer:
First, you can freeze whole garlic cloves before peeling – simply wrap them in foil or plastic wrap and place them into a freezer bag. When needed, select as many cloves from the bag to suit your needs without wasting time on tedious peeling beforehand!
Second, you can easily store peeled cloves by removing the outer papery peelings and finely chopping or crushing them into a garlic paste. Afterward, simply place the mixture in either a plastic freezer wrap or bag; that way if your frozen cloves happen to stick together, it’s easy enough to grate off what you need then pop the rest back into storage inside of the freezer!
Store Peeled Garlic Cloves in Oil
There has been a contentious dialogue surrounding the preservation of garlic-infused oil at room temperature, as some have argued it can lead to food poisoning. The reason for this is that keeping cloves in oil creates an ideal environment for clostridium botulinum bacteria, which triggers toxic foodborne diseases.
If you are looking to reduce the risk of botulism when storing garlic oil, placing it in a freezer is your best bet. To keep your stored garlic oil safe, here’s what you can do:
Separate the garlic cloves, place them in a plastic container or jar filled with olive oil (or an alternative flavored oil of your choice), then seal it tightly and store it in the freezer. Now all you need to do is scoop out as much garlic as needed for each meal!
For an easy and accessible approach to garlic paste, simply mix two parts olive oil with one part garlic in a blender or food processor. Pour the mixture into a freezer-safe airtight container, then freeze for three weeks for optimal preservation. The presence of the oil will keep your puree from freezing fully so that you can easily scoop it out onto any pan without worry!
Store Peeled Garlic in Wine or Vinegar
You can pickle peeled cloves in vinegar or wine and store them in your refrigerator for up to 4 months. Pickling garlic involves filling a glass jar with peeled cloves and then fill it with vinegar. You can then put your cloves in a refrigerator.
Add salt and dried herbs, like oregano, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, or rosemary to add flavor to the pickled garlic. Mix the ingredients well and then store them for later usage.
Although pickled garlic lasts four months when put in an airtight container and refrigerated, you should throw away the cloves when you notice mold on the wine/vinegar surface. Do not store garlic at room temperature as mold will develop very fast.
Another efficient way of storing garlic is by drying it. Dried garlic condenses and takes up little space. But when you use it for cooking. The dried garlic will absorb the water you add and add its unique flavor to the food. There are two ways you could dry garlic- using a food dehydrator or an oven.
When using a dehydrator, peel the cloves and cut them lengthwise. It would help if you only did this to plump garlic cloves. Please put them in a tray inside your dehydrator and then follow dehydrator instructions for heat settings. You’ll know the garlic is ready when it’s brittle and crisp.
Alternatively, you can achieve similar results with an oven. Place halved cloves on a baking tray and bake them at 140 degrees Fahrenheit for about two hours and then reduce the heat to 130 degrees Fahrenheit and continue baking until the garlic is dehydrated.
Use dried garlic to make long-lasting garlic salt, adding subtle flavor to your foods—first, blasting the dried garlic in a blender or food processor until it turns into fine powder to make garlic salt. Next, add sea salt to the garlic in the ratio of 4:1 and then process for 60 -120 seconds to combine. Do not pass the 120 seconds mark, as the mixture will clump together. Also, store your garlic salt in an airtight glass jar and keep it in the dark and cool corner in your kitchen.
People Also Ask
How Long Does Garlic Last?
A whole head of garlic will last for six months when you follow proper storage procedures. However, peeled garlic has a shorter shelf life of about a week, depending on your storage method and prevailing conditions.
Note: The shelf life of a head of garlic continues to reduce the more you prepare it.
How to Know Your Garlic is Going Bad?
Sight – fresh garlic cloves have a firm white/tan color. When garlic goes bad, the color turns brown. It might start to turn translucent and deepen to a light yellow or brown color in some instances. Other times, the garlic bulb will begin to sprout. However, sprouting isn’t always a bad thing, but it’ll have a bitter taste. If the bulb starts sprouting, remove the green roots before you use them.
Feel – peeled garlic cloves should feel firm and crack when you exert some pressure. As the bulb starts going bad, you’ll notice them getting spongy and slimy. As for whole bulbs, they’ll begin to dehydrate. While you can use dried garlic, it’ll pack a lesser punch compared to fresh garlic.
Taste/smell – fresh garlic has a strong odor, especially after peeling the cloves. As it ages and goes bad, the smell becomes even stronger with a sharp hint of ammonia. This smell carries into the flavor, which makes food a pain to eat.
Can I Eat Garlic if It Starts Going Bad?
Well, yes, you can, but not always.
Generally, when the garlic starts going bad, it’s better if you discard it. Using bad garlic will add an intense aroma to your foods and even make them taste bitter. So while you can still eat garlic that has just started to go bad, the experience isn’t worth your while. If you come across garlic cloves with moldy spots, you best discard them.
Another reason not to eat bad garlic is that sometimes it harbors clostridium botulinum bacteria, which causes botulism, a fatal foodborne illness. Botulism is prevalent in low acid foods with warm temperatures and little oxygen. While this isn’t something you’ll worry about when it comes to whole or peeled garlic cloves, beware when you store garlic in oil.
Can You Store Garlic in Plastic Paper Bags?
No, you shouldn’t. To extend your garlic storage life, you need to allow it room to breathe. Using a plastic bag or container for this beats this purpose as it increases the chances of the bulb sprouting or mold growth. Instead, consider storing garlic in mesh bags or a wire basket in a dark place that is well ventilated. Stored properly, garlic can last for months.
How Do You Prepare Garlic for Storage?
The process is relatively easy. If you grow your garlic and have recently harvested it, find a good location for curing. The curing process involves a couple of steps:
- ·Bunch your garlic and hang them in a well-ventilated space.
- Allow the garlic bulbs to dry for a couple of weeks. Larger bulbs tend to take longer to cure. But when it’s dry, the wrapper will shrink and feel papery.
- Once the bulbs are dry, trim the roots.
- Remove dirt with a soft brush.
- If you plan to braid garlic, leave the stalks intact. However, if you want to store them loose, trim the stalks an inch or two closer to the bulb.
Can I Freeze Fresh Garlic?
Yes, you can freeze garlic. You can opt to freeze whole bulbs or individual cloves. But while freezing garlic extends its shelf life, refrigerated garlic tends to lose its taste and texture.
How Long Do You Hang Garlic to Dry?
Curing garlic heads takes about 10 to 14 days. You can opt to cut the stems after or before curing. You’ll know the curing is complete when the outer skin of your garlic heads is crispy and dry.
How Do You Store Garlic for a Year?
The best way to store garlic for up to a year is by drying it and putting it in an airtight container at room temperature. After that, you can opt to make flavored oil or salt with dehydrated garlic.
Can Garlic Be Left in the Ground?
When it’s mature, garlic has to be harvested. If you leave it in the ground for a long time, the bulb will split open and be susceptible to dehydration and mold.
Is Garlic Bad When It Starts Sprouting?
No, you can still trim off the green shoots and use your garlic bulbs. However, the bulb no longer has a mild herb flavor. Instead, it has a sharp and bitter flavor.
If you have grown garlic in your home garden and want to store garlic for home use until the next harvest, you can. However, even with the above tips, there is a limit on how long you can store garlic. With that said, don’t try to store more garlic than your family can use.