How to store fresh garlic

Make the most of your garlic by storing it the right way.

Storing garlic properly is an easy way to make sure it retains its quality, flavor, and pungency for as long as possible — and life is way too short to eat bad garlic. Here’s everything you need to know about the best way to store your whole, peeled, and minced bulbs:

How Long Does Garlic Last?

It depends on how you store it and whether or not it’s been peeled. A whole, unpeeled garlic head will last quite a while (about six months). An unpeeled clove that has been separated from the head, meanwhile, will stay good for about three weeks.

Once you peel garlic, you’re going to want to use it within a week. Don’t even think about chopping or mincing the garlic unless you plan to use it ASAP — you’ll be lucky if it lasts 24 hours in the fridge.

How Do You Know When It’s Bad?

Give your unpeeled garlic head a gentle squeeze. If it’s firm, it’s probably good to go. If it’s soft, meanwhile, it may be past its prime.

Another tell tale sign that your garlic is bad is its color: Peeled garlic cloves should be much closer to white than yellow. Discoloration is a sign of decay.

Garlic Storage

How to Store Whole Garlic Heads

Keep the bulb intact for as long as possible. Again, once you start peeling, your garlic’s lifespan decreases much more rapidly.

The best place for a whole head of garlic is somewhere cool, dry, and dark. Sound like the fridge? Think again. Instead of the fridge, opt for somewhere closer to room temperature. Ideally, garlic would be stored somewhere between 60° and 65°, but that’s not realistic for most households. Just use your best judgment. For most people, the pantry is the safest spot.

Also, if you can, choose somewhere that gets decent ventilation. Don’t close your garlic in a small drawer or seal it up in a bag. If you must bag it up, paper or mesh materials are much more breathable than plastic.

How to Store Peeled Garlic

Peeled garlic is a different story. Whether you’ve separated and peeled the whole thing or you just a few exposed cloves, refrigeration is going to be your best bet. Seal it up in an airtight container or zip-top bag, then toss it in the fridge. Though it may start losing pungency after only a few days, it’ll be fine to use for about a week.

How to Store Chopped or Minced Garlic

Did you accidentally chop more garlic than you needed for a given recipe? You can toss it in a bit of olive oil, seal it in an airtight container, and stick it in the fridge to use within a day or two. Don’t try to keep it for longer than that: Fresh garlic in oil could develop botulism over time, according to the USDA (the pre-minced garlic you buy at the grocery store has been treated with preservatives that keep it safe-to-eat for longer).

Don’t be fussy when it comes to garlic storage. Simply keep the heads together and allow for air circulation.

Where would we be without garlic? Pungent when raw, mellow when cooked, it adds a delicious aroma and deep flavor to so many dishes. Yet beyond garlic’s ability to turn recipes from good to great, there’s another reason to love this workhorse of an ingredient: From a storage standpoint, it’s one of the most low-maintenance foods you can have in your kitchen. Garlic benefits from a pretty hands-off approach: Give it the air and space it needs, and it’ll love you back.

The first thing you need to remember about storing garlic is that it keeps best when kept together. Resist the temptation to break the cloves off the bulb until you’re ready to use them, and leave them together, covered in their paper covering. They’ll stay fresh longer this way—we’ve seen them keep well up to six months!

Second, don’t fret too much about what kind of container you keep the garlic in. A terra-cotta or ceramic container specifically designed for garlic storage is great, but so is a paper or mesh bag, a wire basket, or even just a simple bowl. The goal is to encourage the circulation of dry air, which is why a plastic bag is a no-no since it seals in moisture.

Finally, stash your garlic someplace dark and cool. The pantry is a good spot (the refrigerator, not so much)—that is, as long as you keep the garlic away from potatoes (garlic, onions, and other alliums emit gases that can hasten sprouting in those spuds). Why keep garlic away from light and moisture? These conditions contribute to sprouting (which doesn’t necessarily mean the garlic has spoiled, but sprouted garlic—you’ll know it by its small green shoots—can taste bitter) and mold growth.

Once you start breaking the cloves off from the bulb, the garlic will begin to deteriorate. After removing the first clove, you probably have about 10 days to two weeks before the remaining garlic on the bulb begins to sprout.

Now, if you’ve peeled more cloves than you need, the fridge is actually the best place to store them—wrap them in plastic or put them in a sealed bag or container for up to a week. Chopped generally doesn’t last more than a day in the fridge, but you can eke out another two or so days if you cover it in olive oil. The truth is, though, leftover peeled garlic rarely needs to be stored, since adding a bit more garlic to whatever you’re cooking probably won’t hurt.

How to store fresh garlic

Now that you have successfully grown and harvested your garlic, it is time to decide how to store your aromatic crop. The best way to store garlic depends on how you intend to use it. Continue reading to learn more about how to store fresh picked garlic from your garden, including garlic storage before planting more next year.

How to Store Garlic

There are a number of methods for storing garlic from the garden. Once harvested, you’ll need to decide how to store garlic based on your preferences and what you plan on doing with your crop.

Storing Garlic at Room Temperature

Spread some newspapers out in a location away from sunlight and in a cool, well-ventilated area. Allow the garlic to dry for at least two weeks, in a mesh bag or airy container, until the skins become paper like. This air-dry storage method preserves garlic for five to eight months.

How to Store Garlic by Freezing

Frozen garlic is perfect for soups and stews, and can be achieved one of three ways:

  • Chop garlic and wrap tightly in freezer wrap. Break or grate off as needed.
  • Leave garlic unpeeled and freeze, removing cloves as needed.
  • Freeze garlic by blending some garlic cloves with oil in a blender using two parts olive oil to one part garlic. Scrape out what is needed.

How to Store Fresh Picked Garlic by Drying

Garlic must be fresh, firm, and bruise-free to dry using heat. Separate and peel cloves and cut lengthwise. Dry cloves at 140 degrees F. (60 C.) for two hours and then at 130 degrees F. (54 C.) until dry. When garlic is crisp, it is ready.

You can make garlic powder from fresh, dried garlic by blending until fine. To make garlic salt, you can add four parts sea salt to one part garlic salt and blend for a few seconds.

Storing Garlic in Vinegar or Wine

Peeled cloves can be stored in vinegar and wine by submerging them and storing in the refrigerator. Use garlic as long as there is no mold growth or surface yeast in the wine or vinegar. Do not store on the counter, as mold will develop.

Garlic Storage Before Planting

If you want to keep some of your harvest for planting next season, just harvest as usual and store in a cool, dark, well-ventilated spot.

Now that you know how to store fresh picked garlic from the garden, you can decide the best way to store garlic based on your individual needs.

Keep those heads — and even single cloves — fresh with these tips.

How to store fresh garlic

Garlic

Photo by: chengyuzheng/Getty Images

How to store fresh garlic

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Garlic is often thought of as an ingredient you can keep around indefinitely. Some people hang braids of garlic for months — and longer. But how should you store garlic to maximize its use, and how long is it good for?

One of the most commonly used ingredients, garlic helps to form the base of many dishes as a flavor builder. You can easily buy it in bulk for cost effectiveness, and luckily, with the right storage, it will last for a while. Here are some easy-to-follow tips for extending the life of your garlic, plus some added ideas for using up any surplus you may have on hand.

How to Store It

Garlic is typically sold by the head (also called the bulb). It’s best to store whole heads of garlic instead of breaking them apart into the cloves because the papery exterior will keep the cloves inside fresher for longer. When you have whole heads of garlic, store them in a wire basket or open paper bag so there is plenty of air circulation, then place the container in a dry, dark location, such as the back of your pantry or tucked under a cabinet on the counter. Sunlight of any kid will change the temperature and humidity in the environment, which will encourage most any kind of produce to ripen more quickly, helping it go bad sooner.

How Long Will It Last?

Properly stored, a whole head of garlic can last for up to six months. Unpeeled cloves can last for three to four weeks. If you have separated or peeled cloves of garlic, store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week. Any chopped/minced garlic you have should be used ASAP.

If you notice the cloves start to sprout, you can still use them, but get to them quickly. Cut the cloves in half and remove the germ. It’s yellow-ish white when young and sprouts a green shoot as it ages. If the clove itself is brown or the head softens, it should be discarded.

How to Use It

If you have a surplus of garlic, try roasting it! Cut 1/2-inch from the top of a whole head of garlic to expose the cloves, then drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees F until caramelized and tender, 45 to 55 minutes. Allow the garlic to cool slightly, then squeeze the cloves out of their papery skin. You can use roasted garlic in dressings, homemade hummus, or simply shmeared on bread.

Here are some favorite garlicky recipe ideas:

How to store fresh garlic

The Spruce / Randi Rhoades

  • Total Time: 4 hrs
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Thanks to its delicious taste and reputation as a healthy food, garlic (Allium sativum) is popular with gardeners.   But growing this relative of the onion takes a fair amount of space and patience. It is an unusual plant in the vegetable garden because you have to wait about 8 months after planting before you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor. But if you’ve grown it well and harvested and stored it properly, you can have fresh garlic all winter. In fact, this is one of the best vegetables for long-term storage.

How to store fresh garlic

When to Harvest Garlic

In general, garlic is ready for harvesting when the lower leaves start to brown.   The only way to be sure is to dig up a few bulbs to check their progress. If the cloves fill out the skins, it’s time to harvest.

Harvesting too soon will result in smaller cloves that don’t store well. However, leaving the bulbs in the ground too long causes the cloves to burst out of their skins, making them vulnerable to disease and shorter storage time. So timing is quite important when it comes to harvesting and storing garlic.

What You’ll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Garden fork
  • Knife or kitchen scissors
  • Mesh bag (optional)

Materials

  • Mature garlic plant

Instructions

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The Spruce / Randi Rhoades

Prepare the Garlic for Harvest

With most root vegetables, including garlic, it can be difficult to know when harvest time has arrived because you can’t see their ripeness.   Most gardeners plant garlic in the fall and wait for the plants to sprout the following spring. When the leaves begin to turn yellow and dry, usually in June or July, harvest time is near.

Once the leaves on your garlic begin to decline, stop watering the plant. This is impossible if it rains on the plant, but do the best you can. A dry spell will help to cure the garlic in the ground.

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The Spruce / Randi Rhoades

Determine When the Time Is Right

Picking the right time to harvest garlic is something of an art form. But the experts from Seed Savers Exchange say the plant is ready after three or four leaves have died back but five or six green leaves remain. Avoid waiting too long because the cloves will begin to separate from the bulbs in the ground.

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The Spruce / Randi Rhoades

Dig Up the Bulbs

If possible, wait for the soil to dry. Garlic bulbs don’t easily pull out of the ground like onions do. While you may have planted a small clove, the mature bulb is now several inches deep with a strong root system. So always dig up your garlic. Never try to pull it out of the ground, as the stalks can break and separate from the bulbs.

A garden fork typically works better than a shovel for digging up garlic, though either tool will do. Loosen the soil, and gently dig up the garlic bulbs, taking care not to slice through them. (A sliced bulb can be used immediately, but it can’t be stored.) Then, shake off the remaining dirt by hand to separate the bulbs from the soil.

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The Spruce / Randi Rhoades

Cure the Garlic

Garlic should be cured or dried before storing it for later use. Start by brushing off any soil remnants clinging to the bulbs. Do not wash them off or get the bulbs wet. Leave the stalks and roots on the bulbs while they cure. Either bundle 8 to 10 garlic stems together, tie with twine, and hang bulb-side down in a cool, dark space, like a basement, or lay the garlic flat on a raised screen in a single layer. Allow the bulbs to cure for three to four weeks. Keep out of sunlight, as it can change the flavor of fresh garlic.

Once the tops and roots have dried, cut them off and clean the garlic by removing the outer papery skin. Be careful not to expose any of the cloves. Or you can leave the stalks and braid the garlic, if you’ve grown softneck varieties.

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The Spruce / Randi Rhoades

Store the Bulbs

Keep your garlic in a dark, cool place (32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit) where it will still get some air circulation. Braiding and hanging garlic is a good way to store it. However, don’t hang it in the kitchen where it will be exposed to light. You can also store garlic in a mesh bag.

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The Spruce / Randi Rhoades

Tips for Harvesting and Storing Garlic

Not all garlic varieties mature at the same time. Artichoke garlic generally matures first, followed by rocambole garlic. Then come other varieties, including purple stripes, porcelains, and silverskins.

Softneck varieties of garlic can be stored for six to eight months. Check periodically to make sure the garlic is not going soft or sprouting. Hardneck varieties might dry out, sprout, or go soft within three to four months. However, storing hardneck varieties right at freezing temperature sometimes helps them survive for up to seven months without deteriorating.

If you’re a seed saver, there is nothing easier than saving garlic seed cloves. Simply put aside a few of your largest, healthiest bulbs to plant next season. Don’t bother saving smaller bulbs, as planting them will result in small bulbs for your next harvest. Store bulbs for planting at room temperature with fairly high humidity, so they don’t dry out.

Learn to make minced garlic that lasts for one or more weeks using these handy storage methods.

There’s a reason store-bought, jarred garlic is so popular: The convenience of having minced garlic on hand at all times is hard to beat.

But, there’s also a reason people still opt for fresh, homemade minced garlic; it’s much more potent than the preserved stuff you get at the supermarket. So what’s the solution? Pre-mince and store your own garlic at home! Here you’ll learn how to safely prep and store homemade minced garlic.

How to Mince Garlic

Start with whole garlic cloves, either fresh or pre-peeled. For fresh, unpeeled garlic, you’ll need to break off the cloves from the head and peel each one. To learn how, read our step-by-step guide to peeling garlic.

Once the garlic cloves are peeled, it’s time to mince. For large quantities of garlic, a food processor or a blender is going to be your best bet. Process/blend your garlic cloves to your desired consistency (this could be anywhere from a fine paste to a chunky, minced consistency). Note: For Method #2, you will need to process your garlic with oil (the ratio is two parts oil to one part garlic).

For small quantities of garlic, mince as you normally would using either a knife, a garlic press, or even a Microplane grater.

How to Store and Preserve Minced Garlic

Method #1: Preserving Garlic in Jars With Oil

Store-bought minced garlic is often packed in oil and jarred, and this same storage method also works for homemade garlic. The oil protects the garlic from air, helping to preserve its flavor and color.

However, the USDA warns that there is a botulism risk associated with storing garlic in oil at room temperature and even in the refrigerator over longer periods of time: “Research performed by the University of Georgia confirmed that mixtures of garlic in oil stored at room temperature are at risk for the development of botulism. Garlic in oil should be made fresh and stored in the refrigerator at 40 degrees F or lower for no more than 7 days. It may be frozen for several months.”

Store-bought, pre-minced garlic in oil is treated with preservatives to prevent the development of harmful bacteria. So, keeping track of how long your garlic has been in the refrigerator or freezer is imperative when using this method at home.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • Minced garlic
  • An airtight container, either plastic or glass
  • Vegetable oil of your choice (we recommend olive or avocado)
  • Something to label the container with (masking tape and a marker will work)

Instructions:

  1. Add your minced garlic to a clean, airtight container (wide mouth mason jars are an excellent freezer-safe option).
  2. Top off with oil (choose an oil with neutral flavor like olive oil or avocado oil), until the garlic is completely covered, leaving ½-inch of headspace.
  3. Seal and label the containers with the date. Refrigerate for up to one week, or freeze and use within about three months.

Always use a clean, dry spoon to remove the garlic from the jar when you’re ready to use. This will prevent contamination and mold growth.

Method #2: Freezing Garlic in Portions

This method is preferred if you want to store your garlic in individual portions to add to your recipes as you go.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • 1 part whole, peeled garlic cloves
  • 2 parts oil (we recommend olive or avocado)
  • Food processor or blender
  • Measuring teaspoon
  • Baking sheet or ice cube tray
  • Freezer-safe bag
  • Marker (to label bag with the date)

Instructions:

  1. Add peeled garlic cloves and oil to a food processor or blender and pulse/blend until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
  2. Scoop out one teaspoon at a time of the garlic and oil mixture and add to either a baking sheet or an ice cube tray.
  3. Flash freeze the garlic by placing the baking sheet or ice cube tray in the freezer for several hours, or until frozen solid.
  4. Transfer the garlic chunks to a freezer-safe storage bag, label with the date, and store for up to three months.

When you’re ready to use your garlic, simply add it to your dishes straight from frozen.

How to store fresh garlic

Spells of warm, sunny weather make it a good year for garlic and in July it starts to become ready to harvest. Follow these simple steps to get the best crop of garlic.

Garlic planted in autumn is ready to harvest from the end of June. Garlic planted in spring is ready to harvest in July, August and September.

The time to harvest garlic is when the leaves start to turn yellow. The leaves will weaken and start to fall as well as going yellow, so you know they are ready to harvest.

Lift the garlic bulbs from the soil as soon as the leaves wither, so that the plant doesn’t put on any secondary growth, which could weaken the bulb.

Take care that you don’t break the skin of the bulbs when you lift them from the soil or they might not keep for as long. Use any damaged bulbs first so they don’t have the chance to rot in storage.

Lay out the harvested bulbs on trays and keep them somewhere warm, dry and well-lit. In a greenhouse or a conservatory will be ideal.

Once the soil on the bulbs has dried, brush it off and keep the bulbs in a cool, dry unheated place indoors, at an ideal of temperature of 10C.

A new crop of garlic can be planted in autumn – How to plant garlic

Sprinkle grit along the rows before you plant and mix it into the soil with a trowel before planting the cloves, to further help drainage.

Plant garlic along rows spaced 30cm apart so that there is lots of room to hoe around the plants easily in spring and summer. If weeds are allowed to grow unchecked around your garlic plants, yield is likely to be poor.

Plant garlic cloves with the pointy end facing up and the flat end at the bottom. Plant garlic just below the soil surface so the very tip of the clove is just covered, and space each clove 15cm apart along the rows.

Label each row and give an initial watering if soil is dry. Put up some bird scarers around the planting site to protect young shoots from being pecked at.

For more crops to grow in the garden this summer, click here.

How to store fresh garlic

Cured well and kept in the right conditions, garlic will store well, even in your home.
Courtesy of Petra Page-Mann / Fruition Seeds

The storage life of your garlic is a complex equation.

I love eating garlic all season long. I’ve let untold bulbs of garlic sprout, shrivel and mold over the years. My hope for this article is to save you time, money and heartache, so here is how to store garlic well, for seasons to come. The short story:

Optimum Conditions for Storing Garlic

  • 56 to 58 F
  • 45 to 50% relative humidity
  • Plastic mesh bags are ideal

Bottom line: Fairly cool, relatively dry & well-ventilated areas store garlic best

Like anything, there is so much more to consider. Here’s the full story:

Growing Great Garlic to Store in All Seasons

The storage life of your garlic is a complex equation, with three main variables:

  • Cultivar
  • Growing Conditions
  • Storage Conditions

Let’s dig a little deeper.

Cultivar

Beyond softneck and hardneck, there are many different DNA types of garlic with thousands of varieties. The Rocambole DNA types, for example, store for about 3 to 4 months. Silverskins, on the other hand, will often store over 12 months.

Our website www.fruitionseeds.com is a great reference for these details. We grow many different types of garlic to enjoy their diverse flavors as well as ensure our garlic supply in each season.

Growing Conditions

Healthy garlic stores much longer than diseased or stressed garlic.

Balanced, abundant fertility is key for large, healthy bulbs. Too much nitrogen will increase bulb size but decrease bulb storability. And did you know your garlic begins to go into dormancy before you harvest it? When average temperatures the month prior to harvest are above 80 F, your garlic doesn’t go into dormancy as quickly, decreasing your garlic’s storability.

Also, too much or too little water can affect bulb size as well as storage, though garlic has a fairly wide window of tolerance for water. Don’t fret.

Finally, harvesting your garlic at the proper time and curing it well makes a world of difference when it comes to long-term storage.

How to store fresh garlic

Bulbs with exposed cloves and few wrappers should be eaten first, since they will store poorly.
Courtesy of Petra Page-Mann / Fruition Seeds

Storage Conditions

Commercial garlic storage aims to keep bulbs between 56 and 58F. Less than 50 F, your garlic is likely to sprout. Don’t be tempted to store garlic in your fridge! Above 66 F, your garlic will quickly shrivel.

The ideal relative humidity for your garlic is 45 to 50%. Good circulation prevents air from stagnating and mold from developing on your garlic. If you have lower humidity, air circulation will cause less heartache. An unheated pantry or garage is often ideal. Basements often have the optimal temperature, but their humidity can be too high.

Balancing these variables can be quite a puzzle.

What to Store Your Garlic In

Short term, storing your garlic in paper bags will do the trick. If you’ll eat all your garlic before the New Year, this is a perfect plan.

For the long winter ahead, plastic mesh bags will serve you best. Especially if you have an abundance of garlic and are committed to enjoying it well into spring (if not summer), the additional airflow from the mesh will be your greatest ally.

Secrets to Long-Storing Garlic

Small and medium-sized bulbs store longer, on average, than large bulbs, provided their size doesn’t reflect disease or other adversity. Be sure to re-plant your largest bulbs this fall, but enjoy your second largest bulbs first this winter.

Clean bulbs with abundant, tight wrappers store better than bulbs with remnant soil, harboring potential moisture and pathogens with few wrappers.

Garlic with its stem cut less than one-half inch from the bulb will likely store less long, since more air is likely to penetrate its wrappers.

Keep a close eye on your garlic. Look and touch your bulbs throughout the winter, enjoying the bulbs that soften first. Notice if there is a pattern: the garlic toward the front tends to shrivel first.

Garlic is one of the most rewarding plants to grow and to eat. Stored well, you’ll enjoy your garlic this season and for many more to come!