There’s nothing like the pungent, powerful flavor of fresh garlic. That’s why it’s important to learn how to store garlic properly—because once garlic starts to go bad, it will begin to sprout and turn bitter. Whether you love adding garlic to marinades or using it to enhance salmon recipes, a clove that has gone bad just won’t do.
How do you keep garlic fresh longer?
First, choose your garlic cloves wisely. Look for whole heads of garlic with tightly packed skins and firm cloves. Avoid anything that feels soft, and look out for sprouting (bright green shoots growing out the top of each garlic clove).
Purple-tinged garlic is totally fine—it’s just a different variety altogether. Purple garlic, called hardneck garlic, has a woody stem running through the center of its head. All-white garlic, or softneck garlic, does not have this stem. The two varieties can be used interchangeably.
No matter what type of garlic you pick up, here’s how to store your supply to make it last.
At room temperature
Store whole heads of garlic in a cool, dry place in a bag or bowl with good airflow (such as a mesh bag or loosely woven basket). Keep it in your pantry or in a basket on your counter out of the sun.
In the fridge
While we’re not fans of storing whole heads of garlic in the refrigerator (it can stimulate sprouting), the fridge is a great place for whole peeled cloves, sliced or minced garlic. For example, if you sliced a bunch of garlic for a recipe and have extra, store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Use it within 2-3 days.
In the freezer
Got heaps of heads? Here’s an easy (and tasty!) way to use them up: Heat the oven to 400°F. Trim 1 inch off the tops of whole heads of garlic; discard. Place each garlic head on a piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Wrap tightly and place in a baking dish. Roast until golden brown and tender, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool slightly, then squeeze the garlic out of their skins into ice trays, cover and freeze.
Alternatively, finely chop, grate or press raw garlic cloves into ice trays, cover with oil, and freeze. Quick food safety note: According to the CDC, it’s important to freeze this mixture right away to avoid foodborne illness. Do not hold or store it at room temperature.
Fresh, firm garlic cloves without any bruises can be dried to make tasty garlic “chips” that’ll add flavor to everything from rice to chicken dishes. To prepare, peel and cut cloves in half lengthwise, then follow instructions on your dehydrator. To dehydrate garlic in an oven, dry at 140°F for 2 hours, then reduce the heat to 130°F and continue drying for 4-6 hours or until the garlic is crisp. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Use it up in recipes
If that bag you bought from the bulk store is about to go bad, we’ve got another idea: put it to good use! Here, our favorite recipes for garlic lovers:
To sum up
Garlic is an essential ingredient in so many recipes—any home cook knows it’s important to have on hand. Store whole heads of garlic at room temperature in a dry, dark place, keep peeled or cut cloves in an airtight container in the refrigerator, or freeze roasted garlic or fresh garlic in oil.
With a variety of ways to store (and eat!) fresh garlic, you’ll never have to go without.
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