As it is one of the most ubiquitous herbs out there, every cook should know how to store garlic properly. Its unique earthy spice and slight sweetness can complement just about any recipe you can possibly think up.
Fortunately, storing garlic is relatively easy. You don’t have to jump through many hoops to keep them fresh and long-lasting in the kitchen. This guide contains all the info that you need.
Can You Store Garlic?
Despite having a short season (June-August), garlic’s ease of storage has made it a year-round vegetable. So, as long as you have the proper techniques, it won’t be too hard to store them in your home.
How Long Can You Store Garlic?
This will depend on how you store it and whether you have peeled it or not.
A freshly harvested garlic bulb can last for up to six months when stored in the right conditions.
If you plan to store garlic for a long time, keep the entire bulb as it is and do not break it down into cloves.
When the bulb is broken into smaller cloves, each unpeeled clove will last for two to three weeks.
Lastly, once the outer protective skin has been peeled, the garlic clove will rapidly degrade. Peeled garlic may spoil even before the day is over. So, never peel the garlic if you don’t intend to use it immediately.
The Best Way to Store Garlic
Unlike many other herbs and veggies, garlic is best stored at room temperature.
When garlic is refrigerated, it can sprout in a few days and turn bitter. Though still safe to consume, the quality of sprouted garlic is vastly inferior to fresh ones. That’s not to mention the extra risk of the garlic turning moldy. The fridge can add moisture to the garlic cloves, encouraging the growth of mold.
We do not recommend you store raw garlic in the freezer, either. Freezing will drastically change the quality and taste of your garlic (usually not for the better).
How to Store Garlic
1. At Room Temperature
For this method, you will need to find a place that’s cool, dry, and dark, such asthe pantry or a cabinet in the kitchen. Keep your garlic away from moisture and light, since they will encourage mold to grow.
When you find the storage spot, put your garlic into a wire basket or mesh vegetable bag. These containers have excellent ventilation, which is crucial if you want to keep your garlic fresh. The free air flow will keep your garlic “breathing”, preventing mold and decay.
Keep this up and your garlic bulb should last for up to six months.
2. How to Store Garlic Cloves
If you’ve already separated the garlic into cloves, there are two storage methods. Which one to use will depend on whether you have peeled it or not.
For unpeeled cloves, you can store them in the exact same manner as a full bulb. Put them into a well-ventilated basket and stow them away in the pantry. Note that unpeeled cloves will last far shorter than a full bulb. They will keep for only two or three weeks.
If you have peeled the outer skin off the cloves, use the cloves immediately. However, if you find that you don’t need them anymore, there’s still a way to salvage the situation. You can freeze them in oil.
Put one part peeled garlic cloves and two parts olive oil into a food processor. Grind them up until the garlic turns into grain-size bits. After that, put the mixture into an ice tray. Each slot of the ice tray will hold about one or two tablespoons of the mixture.
Place into the freezer overnight until frozen solid.
The frozen garlic-oil mixture will stay good for up to 4 months. However, we don’t recommend you use it past the 3 months mark.
To make it easier to track, put a label with the freezing date on the container.
Do not store this mixture at either room temperature or in the fridge. You may risk botulism.
How to Store Garlic From the Garden
You can store freshly harvested garlic from the garden at room temperature. Refer to our earlier instructions for the proper steps.
But the important part here is that prior to storage, you must cure the garlic first. The curing process will dry up the garlic bulbs and make them less susceptible to mold and degradation.
Curing is pretty simple but takes quite a bit of time.
After harvesting the garlic, brush off any dirt and soil still clinging to the bulbs. Use a dry brush or your hand. Do not wash the bulbs with water. You don’t need to cut off the roots or the stalks during the curing process, either. Leave everything as it is.
Find a cool, dark spot in the house (the basement or the garage are both nice places). You can bundle up the garlic (8 to 10 stems in each bundle) and hang them upside down on the rafter.
If you cannot hang them, you can lay the garlic bulbs flat against the ground. Spread them out evenly.
Do not expose the bulbs to direct sunlight while they’re curing. Sunlight can affect the taste of the garlic.
Once the bulbs have sufficiently dried out, you can cut off the roots and the leafy tops. Carefully take off the papery outer skin. Make sure that you don’t accidentally break apart any bulb and expose the cloves during the process.
Lastly, clean off the garlic bulbs one last time with a dry brush and you can proceed to store them.
So, that’s how to store garlic for those who want to know! Like we said earlier, the steps are straightforward and aren’t at all difficult. Give it a shot.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.