Home » Food Storage » Vegetables » Garlic

How To Store Garlic To Keep It Fresh For Long

This post may contain affiliate links.

Garlic is known and loved all over the world and you can find it in just about any grocery store. Whether you're using fresh garlic cloves, whole garlic bulbs, minced, dried, or garlic paste, knowing how to store garlic means you can expect a good shelf life. There is a variety of ways to use this delicious ingredient and it’s featured in a lot of different cuisines.

Garlic bulbs in a blue container on top of a blue and white kitchen towel.
Jump to:

Garlic is really easy to cook with. If you love garlic as much as I do, you might decide to double it in recipes! Garlic paste is convenient, but nothing beats the amazing flavor of fresh garlic and I always have some in the pantry to liven up my meals.

I bake a lot and desserts are always very popular in this household, but I also like to make savory food. I made these easy egg puffs recently and added some minced garlic along with the onions. Garlic and onions go together so well and are the basis of so many different dishes.

Garlic also offers nutritional benefits. As well as being a great source of Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C, it offers manganese, selenium, and fiber. Studies have shown this ingredient can help with high cholesterol.

What is Garlic?

Garlic (Allium Sativum) grows in bulbs and, once peeled, you can expect to find between 10 and 20 individual cloves in there. It grows on a flowering plant which sometimes produces purple or pink flowers. Garlic is native to Central Asia, South Asia, and also northeastern Iran, and is popular pretty much anywhere.

Ancient Egyptians used it as a medicine and also to add flavor to recipes. More than three-quarters of the world's garlic supply is grown in China, but it will grow in most climates, even in Alaska if planted at the correct depth and time. India is the world's second-biggest garlic producer, but only produces about 5% of the world's supply.

Garlic can be categorized into 2 distinct species: Hardneck garlic and Softneck. Hardneck garlic includes rocambole, porcelain, and purple-striped garlic, while the Softneck variety includes silverskin, Creole, and artichoke garlic. The most common kind that you find at the store is Softneck garlic.

This popular bulb, which is related to shallots, chives, and leeks, is botanically considered a vegetable, rather than an herb or spice. It has an intense, distinctive flavor, and the cloves, along with the bulb itself, are encased in a thin, papery skin, which is removed before adding the garlic to a recipe.

Roasted garlic can be served as a spread or condiment, or can be added raw to recipes that are braised, sautéed, roasted, braised, grilled, or baked. Boost the flavor of your sauces, stir-fries, soups, and marinades with a generous addition of garlic. I love the flavor so I'm always heavy-handed with mine.

How to Buy the Best Garlic

You will find garlic at just about any grocery store, whether large or small, often in the section with potatoes and onions. Unless you're buying ready-to-use garlic paste, you should be able to find fresh, whole garlic bulbs either individually or in a mesh bag.

Reject bulbs that feel soft because squishy garlic is way beyond its prime. Also, don't buy garlic that has dark, powdery patches because this is mold. Also, a garlic bulb with a green sprout or two is not fresh.

If you use garlic very sparingly, you might want to purchase minced garlic which is typically packed with oil in a jar or tube. Garlic powder and freeze-dried garlic are other options, but I recommend you check the label since some brands contain sugar and other ingredients you might prefer to avoid. These might be the easiest way to add garlic to a recipe, but I find that fresh garlic offers a far better flavor.

Garlic bulbs on a countertop.

How to Store Garlic

Once you know how to store garlic bulbs and individual cloves, you can purchase as much garlic as you think you'll need for a few months, and rest assured it should stay fresh. This is the best way to keep it:

  • The best way to store fresh garlic, whether you have whole heads or whole cloves from a partially used bulb, is to keep it unpeeled, in a paper bag, garlic keeper, or small ceramic pot with holes in it. Garlic heads prefer plenty of air circulation so don't keep it in a plastic bag or mason jar. Keep it in a dark place, away from direct sunlight, at cool or even cold temperatures. To maximize the storage life for fresh garlic bulbs, the ideal temperature for garlic is between 30°F and 32°F, in a dry area with 60-70% humidity.
  • If you have bought canned garlic in oil in a plastic tube, container, or glass jar, keep it refrigerated once you've opened it.
  • If you prefer to freeze garlic, that is another possibility. The first thing is to peel and chop fresh garlic cloves and then freeze them in a single layer in a freezer bag. You can also pack them in olive oil in ice cube trays, before transferring them into an airtight container or Ziploc freezer bag.

Whichever type of garlic you're using, it should last quite a long time - around 3 to 6 months in fact, depending on the storage conditions. Frozen garlic has a longer storage period and should be fine for up to 9 months before the flavor begins to deteriorate.

How to Tell if Garlic is Spoiled

Rotten garlic won't have its distinctive pungent smell. In fact, it is more likely to smell sour or moldy. Spoiled raw garlic might also be soft and squishy. Since old, moldy garlic can harbor clostridium botulinum, if in doubt throw it out.

It should be safe to eat garlic that's past its prime, if there's no softness, signs of mold, or bad smell, even if you have to remove green shoots and/or trim off any small brown or yellow patches. If the entire clove is yellow, that's an early sign of decay since fresh garlic cloves are white, and I would strongly recommend you toss it.

Common Questions

Can you keep chopped or minced fresh garlic in the fridge?

Once you've prepared garlic cloves, they will only last about a day in the crisper drawer or on a fridge shelf. So don't peel or prepare it until just before using it, if possible. Room temperature suits unpeeled garlic, but if you have peeled, chopped cloves left over, keep them refrigerated and make sure one of tomorrow's meals has garlic in it unless you want to freeze it! If the cloves are peeled but whole, they should keep for several days.

Can you eat too much garlic?

Despite the wonderful flavor and reported health benefits of this tasty bulb, there is such a thing as too much! Overdoing your consumption of garlic can lead to bad breath and digestive issues.

What's the easiest way to peel garlic?

Garlic doesn't take long to peel if you slice off the end and peel it, but if you're peeling a whole batch of it at once, you might be curious whether there's a shortcut. I recently discovered that one great way to remove the papery skins is to pour boiling water over individual cloves and leave for a minute or so, after which time the cloves should slip right out of their skins.

Garlic bulbs and cloves on counter top.

Interesting Facts

  • Garlic has been used for more than 4,000 years and preserved garlic has been discovered (along with still-edible honey!) in Egyptian pharaoh tombs!
  • A compound known as "allicin" which contains sulfur is what gives garlic its pungent smell. Eat enough of it and even your sweat will smell garlicky.
  • The average American eats about 2 pounds of garlic each year, but the average Chinese person eats an impressive 31 pounds of it!

Knowing the best way to store garlic means you can always ensure you have some to hand when preparing a recipe. Home cooks all over the world love to add this delicious ingredient to all kinds of yummy dishes.

Leave a Comment