Garlic has been used for thousands of years in cultures across the globe. Many cuisines use garlic for it’s distinct, pungent-flavor in cooking while other cultures believe in the medicinal and healing properties of garlic.
While it does not contain significant nutrients, vitamins or minerals, it is regarded as part of a healthy diet and supports immune function. It is also thought to cure ailments ranging from the cold to cancer. It is widely used to treat high cholesterol and blood pressure.
A member of the allium family, garlic is closely related to onions, scallion, shallots and chives. It contains allicin, a compound which produces the strong smell and flavor. Garlic is grown in bulbs which each contain 10-20 cloves. The cloves must be peeled prior to consumption.
For maximum flavor in cooking and the greatest health benefits for medicinal use, it is important to always use fresh garlic. How long does garlic stay fresh? It depends on which type of garlic you buy as well as how you store your garlic at home.
Preserve Your Garlic by Drying It
If you grow your own garlic at home or purchase “wet garlic” it may be used in cooking straight from the garden. But for long term storage you must preserve your garlic by drying it. Find a dry and shaded place to dry your garlic with plenty of air circulation. Do not trim the garlic plants. Allow the entire plant to dry and be patient. Sometimes the drying process can take well over a month. Once completely dry, trim your garlic and store as you would fresh garlic.
Store-bought or fresh garlic can stay fresh for months if stored properly.
Do not buy garlic that has sprouted or has visible mold or rot. These are obvious signs that the garlic is not fresh.
Keeping Garlic in Your Kitchen
Once you have the bulbs at home, store them in a cool and dry environment. Proper storage is crucial to maintain the flavor and medicinal properties of garlic. If possible, store in a dark place with plenty of air flow, like a cupboard or pantry. It is crucial to avoid moisture and to keep the garlic bulbs dry. Moisture will lead to mold and rot and significantly shorten the shelf-life of your garlic.
Do not store garlic bulbs or unpeeled cloves in the refrigerator. The moisture will cause mold and rot and significantly shorten the life of your garlic.
Do not store in a sealed bag or container to prevent moisture build-up and to allow air to circulate and keep the garlic dry. If you live in an extreme climate and must store garlic in the refrigerator, store in a crisper drawer if possible. Crisper drawers tend to have lower levels of humidity. Do not store close to the stove or oven. The heat generated can also spoil your garlic and shorten the shelf-life.
How Long Does Garlic Stay Fresh?
Intact bulbs of garlic can last for up to 8 weeks or longer in the proper environment. In dry climates some people are able to store bulbs of garlic for up to a year! Once the bulbs are broken, unpeeled cloves can continued to be stored at room temperature but should be used within 7-10 days.
Once garlic cloves are minced then they should be stored in the fridge in a sealed container. Minced garlic should be used within days for optimal flavor. The flavor and composition start to break-down immediately so even a few days can significantly alter the taste.
Preserve The Shelf-Life
If you have excess garlic and you would like to preserve the shelf-life there are a few things you can do.
Using a food processor or a blender, mix peeled garlic cloves with water before transferring to a tray and freezing as cubes. These cubes can last for months in the freezer. But you should never freeze whole bulbs or cloves garlic. It can significantly change the texture and flavor of your garlic.
You can also dry the garlic using a food dehydrator or your oven at a low temperature. Once dried, your garlic can last for months at room temperature. Dried garlic can be sprinkled on foods or used to infuse oils and vinegars.
In addition to drying garlic, you can also roast or pickle fresh garlic to prolong the shelf-life. Please note that you should NEVER store fresh garlic in oil. It can lead to botulism which is extremely dangerous. Garlic should always be dried or roasted prior to oil storage.
How to Make Garlic Pickle
Proper storage of garlic ensures freshness for months and makes it easy to always have available for both cooking and medicinal purposes.