How to Properly Store Garlic

Garlic is an essential ingredient in any kitchen. Learn the best way to store it here.

Garlic is a workhorse in the kitchen. It’s an essential ingredient in many savory dishes, adding flavor to soups, saucesmarinadesstir-fryshearty meat entrees, and, of course, garlic bread, among countless other recipes. But how should you store this pantry staple to keep it as fresh as possible for as long as possible? Read on for tips on storing whole, peeled, minced, and roasted garlic.

How to Store Whole Garlic

The good news? Garlic has a long shelf life and is relatively low-maintenance to store. If stored properly, whole, unpeeled heads of garlic can last up to six months. Garlic should be stored in a cool, dry spot out of direct sunlight. A temperature of around 60 to 65°F is ideal, but avoid storing whole garlic in the refrigerator, as the colder temperature can stimulate growth. Good airflow is also key, so you don’t want to store fresh garlic in a plastic bag or sealed container, which will lock in moisture and cause the garlic to rot. Instead, opt for a more breathable mesh bag, a garlic keeper, or a wire basket.

Fresh Garlic
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES / AKKA-PHOTO.

Once removed from the head, separated cloves of garlic don’t last quite as long, so it’s important to only remove the number of cloves that you need in the moment. Unpeeled individual garlic cloves should be stored the same way as whole garlic, and will last about 2 to 3 weeks.

As a general rule of thumb, the fresher the garlic is when you buy it, the longer it will keep. Garlic is relatively easy to grow yourself and it also grows well in containers. If you’re buying fresh garlic at the farmers’ market or grocery store, there are a few things to keep in mind. Christine Klapp, owner of Green Thumb Gourmet Garlic, a specialty garlic farm in China Township, Michigan, that grows 13 varieties of hardneck and softneck garlic, recommends paying close attention to texture. “The firmest bulb you can pick up is the best one,” she says. “If you start feeling a spongy feel to it, it’s starting to degrade and you don't want it.”

How to Store Peeled Garlic

Once you have separated the cloves from the head of garlic and peeled the skin off the cloves, the shelf life decreases further. As opposed to unpeeled bulbs or cloves, you do want to store peeled cloves in a sealed bag or airtight container in the refrigerator. Peeled cloves will last about a week in the refrigerator. 

How to Store Minced Garlic

Generally, garlic doesn’t last very long once it’s been minced, so it’s best to only mince as much as you need for a particular recipe. But if you accidentally chopped up too much, you can store minced garlic in a sealed bag or airtight container in the refrigerator. Just plan to use it quickly, within 2 or 3 days. You can also store minced garlic in a container with a drizzle of olive oil, but Klapp says it’s imperative to immediately put it in the refrigerator or freezer to avoid risk of botulism, which can occur at room temperature. The USDA recommends keeping garlic in oil for no more than 7 days in the refrigerator.

How to Store Roasted Garlic

When roasted, garlic develops a nutty, rich flavor and smooth, buttery texture perfect for slathering on a loaf of crusty bread or grilled steak, topping a pizza, or tossing with pasta. If you find yourself with leftover roasted garlic, store it in the refrigerator or freezer. Peeled roasted garlic can be stored in a sealed bag or container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, while roasted garlic can be kept in the freezer for a few months. To freeze roasted garlic, place peeled cloves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for about an hour, then transfer to a freezer-safe container or bag once frozen.

How to Store Garlic in the Freezer

Although garlic is best when fresh, it can last up to a year in the freezer. You can wrap whole heads of garlic in aluminum foil or store individual cloves, peeled or unpeeled, in an airtight bag or freezer-safe container. You can also freeze minced or puréed garlic in ice cube trays and then transfer to a bag or container for easy use down the road.

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