The 7 Best Ways to Store Garlic For Future Use
Have you ever wonder does garlic goes bad if left unused for too long? How long is the shelf life of garlic? And, how to store garlic correctly so that this herb remain fresh for future use?
Frankly speaking, it never crosses my mind to think that garlic can get rotten because I never got the chance to see it happen even once since all the fresh garlic that I bought from the market will be swiftly used within a week.
Today I am going to blog about garlic shelf life, how to store garlic correctly as well as general knowledge about this wonderful herb.
Is Garlic a Spice or Herb?
Often confused for being a spice, garlic is actually a herb species in the onion genus Allium and is closely related to onions, shallots, leeks, and chives.
Known for its pungent, spicy, and to some extent nutty flavor, garlic certainly deserves its place amongst the world's most widely-used aromatics.
Quite surprising for a herb with a relatively strong heated taste, garlic on its own, or used in conjunction with other herbs and spices, pair perfectly with almost any recipe’s main component be it meat, poultry, fish, or vegetable.
The garlic versatile flavor profile, which may also be mellowed with proper technique, makes it a staple ingredient in various cuisines around the world. Soups, stews, roasts, stir-fries, curries, salad dressings, marinades, sauces, and a whole long list of internationally-renowned dishes just wouldn't be authentic without the characteristic flavor that only garlic can give.
On top of the irreplaceable flavor that the garlic has, the proven myriad of health benefits from cooking with garlic account for its presence in most kitchens. Though relatively easy to cultivate, and thus readily available, it does lose its state of freshness and potency over time. Hence the need for knowledge on how to store garlic to maximize its shelf-life.
Garlic Shelf Life
Does garlic go bad? Yes, it does, just like most fresh produce does. If stored properly, though, fresh, raw garlic left whole in their bulbs can last for 3 – 6 months if stored properly. But preferably not to keep for so long, though.
Chopped garlic on the other hand, if refrigerated may be good to use for up to seven days. Sprouting of green roots from the garlic clove, or the visibility of brown spots, clearly indicate that it is no longer safe for consumption.
Also, do not assume all garlic you see at the market is fresh. Some of the garlic, especially those at the bottom of the basket can be left there for a long time already. Just be alert when buying from the vendor.
With equal importance to knowing how to store garlic properly would be knowing what to look for when in the market for this herb. So let’s start this discussion with these simple pointers:
- Look for samples that are firm to the touch. Soft garlic is definitely over ripened and will have a relatively short shelf-life.
- A dry papery white skin indicates the lack of moisture which is ideal. The presence of moisture in garlic makes it susceptible to bacterial and mold growth.
- Check for visible sprouting. Green roots growing off the center of each clove is a clear sign that the garlic is no longer fresh.
- Stay away from garlic that is stored in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. These most probably are samples that have shown signs near of spoiling and have been refrigerated to extend their shelf-life for just a few more days.
- When buying peeled cloves, look for the presence of brown spots which are late signs of spoilage.
To put it simply, before thinking too much about how to store garlic optimally, it would still be best to begin by sourcing for only the freshest garlic that is still intact in its bulb whenever available.
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How to Store Garlic – Whole Bulbs
Bulbs of garlic left intact have a shelf-life of up to three months if purchased fresh. Breaking the cloves apart will significantly shorten this storage period down to several days.
A rule-of-thumb on how to store garlic, for whole bulbs or skin-on cloves at least, is to keep them at room temperature, in dry but well-ventilated areas, and away from direct exposure to sunlight.
Opposite to these would be conditions that are favorable for bacterial growth that would hasten spoilage. Here are some storage guidelines based on these facts:
- Contrary to most misconception, skin-on bulbs or cloves of garlic must not be refrigerated.
- Do not store garlic in tight plastic bags or covered containers. Doing so will allow for the accumulation of moisture which we all know by now is not favorable. It would be best to keep them in mesh-constructed receptacles that allow for constant airflow.
- Some kitchen equipment manufacturers like Le Creuset, have released specific-use garlic crockpots that have holes to allow the garlic to “breathe.”
- Cloves of garlic that have been broken off the bulb will not stay fresh for long and must be used within a week or less.
- Place your garlic, in its receptacle, on a shaded part of your kitchen, but not inside a closed cabinet. When thinking of how to store garlic, always look for a place that would allow a free flow of air.
Bulbs of garlic may be roasted whole softening them to a fully-cooked paste that can last up to a week refrigerated. To do this, just arrange as many bulbs of garlic in a pan and bake them for about 40 minutes in an 365 Fahrenheit (180 Degree Celsius) oven.
After that. you should be easily able to squeeze the flesh from their skins when done.
7 Storing Methods for Peeled Garlic Cloves
Individual cloves of garlic that have been peeled should never be left at room temperature. Especially for peeled garlic, it can get spoiled even more quickly. But here are a few solutions to delay this from happening:
- Refrigeration. Peeled whole, chopped, or minced cloves of garlic may be stored in well-sealed containers and refrigerated for about 3 days to a week maximum. Any leftovers beyond this holding time though must be discarded in concern of food safety. Eating garlic that has been stored for too long can cause food poisoning.
- Freezing. Peeled garlic may be frozen to preserve it for up to six months. This method though is inadvisable as freezing would alter its flavor and texture. There are several ways to do this:
1) Wrap whole peeled garlic cloves individually in foil or plastic wrap and arranged these in a container to go in the freezer. This would allow for using them in the number pieces needed without having to defrost a whole clump.
2) Spread chopped or minced garlic in a single layer inside a plastic bag or a covered tray. This way they may be broken easily into needed quantities without having to thaw out the whole batch.
3) Minced garlic may be combined with some liquid like lemon juice or simply water, then frozen into ice cubes which also allow for thawing only the amount required by your recipe.
4) Peeled garlic may also be pureed with oil in a ratio of 1:2 respectively. The oil prevents the resulting paste from freezing completely solid, allowing for the required volume to be easily scooped out of a chosen container.
- Pickling. This time-tested preservation method involving the use of an acidic component would work with garlic as well. Pouring in vinegar or wine, with the possible addition of choice herbs and spices, to completely submerge a bottle of peeled garlic will give it a shelf-life of about three to six months. Note that this preparation must be tightly covered and kept in the refrigerator.
- Brining. Prepare a simple brine with 1 tablespoon of salt for every cup of water enough to get all your garlic fully-submerged. Store in an airtight jar and allow to ferment at room temperature, away from direct sunlight, for about a month. Then store in the refrigerator. This brined garlic should easily last for six months.
- Canning. Similar to pickling where a bottle of processed garlic is filled with an acid-based preparation which may either be raw or cooked. The difference is that with this method, the bottles are finished in a pot of boiling water or in a pressure canner to give them an airtight seal.
- Dehydration. It is the moisture present in most food including garlic that accelerates spoilage, and taking this moisture out would marginally extend shelf-life. This may be done with a commercial dehydrator, under the sun, or inside an oven. Simply lay evenly-sliced garlic pieces on a baking pan in a single layer and allow them to dry up completely in a pre-heated oven for about 2 hours at 149 Fahrenheit (65 Degree Celsius).
- Garlic Powder. Put pieces of dehydrated garlic in a food processor or coffee grinder and pulse to your desired texture. Additional dried herbs and spices may also be added at this point for additional flavors.
Honestly, I grew up in a household where literally garlic is the core ingredients for cooking most of the dishes, and our weekly stocks for this herb were consumed before they can even start going bad.
Because of this, storing garlic was never really a question that bothered me for once. But having an understanding of garlic shelf life and how to store garlic correctly in the context of food safety would surely be worth knowing.
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