Garlic is a beloved ingredient in cuisines around the world, and many of us incorporate it into our cooking on a regular basis. So, how long does garlic last?
In this article, we will discuss the optimal lifespan of garlic as an ingredient, as well as provide storage tips and best practices to ensure you get the most out of your garlic.
How Long Does Garlic Last?
When stored properly under optimal conditions, fresh garlic can last up to six months. When purchasing garlic from the grocery store or farmers market, it’s best to choose unpeeled bulbs that are dry and firm.
Avoid any whole heads that show signs of sprouting or discoloration, as these won’t last as long. In general, whole bulbs can last for several months, while unpeeled, separated cloves may only last for a few weeks. Peeled cloves typically have a shorter lifespan, lasting about one week under proper storage conditions.
How to Store Garlic So It Stays Fresh
To extend the shelf life of your garlic and enjoy a longer-lasting harvest, follow these simple tips on how to store fresh garlic:
Store garlic in a dark and dry location to minimize sprouting. Keep whole bulbs away from moisture and humidity for the best results. To further extend the shelf life, store dry garlic closer to the ground in an area like a pantry or cupboard where temperatures remain lower.
Ensure adequate air circulation when storing fresh garlic. A mesh bag or wire basket are ideal for promoting proper airflow; avoid using plastic bags, as they can suffocate the garlic.
Maintain room temperature storage for fresh garlic. Garlic should be stored between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent premature sprouting, as whole heads tend to sprout more quickly in cooler environments.
Use unpeeled cloves promptly after separating them from the whole bulb. Aim to consume the unpeeled cloves within a few weeks to maintain their freshness and quality. Keep bulbs intact whenever possible to extend their shelf life.
How Do You Store Peeled Garlic Long Term?
Peeled garlic cloves have a significantly shorter shelf life compared to whole, unpeeled bulbs. Here are some strategies for optimal storage of peeled garlic:
Refrigerate peeled garlic by placing it in an airtight container within the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Fresh whole, roasted, or chopped garlic should be used within one week.
Pickle peeled garlic by removing the papery skins and placing the cloves in a glass jar with salt and vinegar. This method helps to preserve the garlic while avoiding the risk of bacterial growth, such as Clostridium botulinum, which can lead to botulism.
Freeze minced garlic by blending peeled cloves with a small amount of water to create a thick paste or puree. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays, label, and store in the freezer. Use individual cubes as needed to add flavor to soups, stir-fries, and stews.
Dehydrate garlic cloves by slicing them thinly and placing them in a food dehydrator. Store the dehydrated garlic in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry or cupboard, where it can last up to one year without spoiling.
How Do You Tell If Garlic Is Bad?
To spot bad garlic, follow these three simple steps: look, smell, and touch.
Look for discoloration, which appears as brown spots on the cloves and a gradual change in color from white to yellow or brown. Sprouting garlic may also produce green roots from its center, which should be removed before cooking due to their bitter taste.
Smell the garlic for its characteristic spicy, pungent, and mild scent. If the garlic loses its distinct aroma or develops a sour smell, it may have gone bad and should be discarded to protect the remaining supply.
Feel the garlic for firmness. Fresh garlic should be firm to the touch, but over time it may soften and become mushy, at which point it should be discarded.
What Happens If I Eat Bad Garlic?
Consuming bad garlic can have serious health consequences, including the rare but potentially life-threatening foodborne illness, botulism. This is caused by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which can produce toxic spores under certain conditions, such as a lack of oxygen, moisture, and improper storage temperatures.
Symptoms of botulism include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, double vision, and difficulty with swallowing and breathing. If you experience these symptoms after consuming garlic, seek medical attention immediately.
Is It Safe To Eat Garlic That Has Sprouted?
While sprouting may affect the taste of garlic, it is still safe to eat. However, the green parts may contain bitter chemicals that could impact digestion.
To remove these, simply split the clove in half and use the tip of a paring knife to lift out the sprouted portion.
Cooked dishes may still have a slightly less fresh taste, but it should not be overly noticeable. Sprouted garlic can also be eaten raw, such as in salads or as a dressing ingredient.