When it comes to cooking, garlic is essential. Garlic is used in a wide variety of dishes and is what elevates them for most people. Garlic has been used throughout history and all over the world, and it has a strong flavor, and it tends to be an acquired taste, but many people love its robust flavor, smell, and health benefits. It can be a challenging ingredient to substitute both in terms of flavor and its many health benefits. Garlic has been found to reduce blood pressure, protect against infection and viruses, lower bad cholesterol, and improve the immune system.
Did reading this just prompt you to visit your grocery store and purchase a big bag of garlic? Well, you should! It’s a great ingredient to start incorporating into your diet. Garlic comes with a strong scent that is often joked about, but this strong scent makes garlic an essential ingredient. Something that most people struggle with is figuring out when the garlic has gone bad. Well, worry not. By the end of this blog post, you will have all the possible knowledge on how long your garlic will last in different forms and how to best store it.
Before we move on to the different kinds of garlic, let’s start with how to purchase the best garlic next time you are in the store. Here are some quick tips that will help you buy the perfect garlic bulb.
Now that you know how to buy fresh garlic, let’s check how long it lasts in storage.
Like many fresh vegetables, fresh garlic doesn’t come with a best by date. However, unlike most vegetables, it can last for months and months if stored properly. Properly stored whole bulbs of garlic can easily last for 5 – 6 months.
If you need only a few cloves from the garlic head, try to remove the cloves you want without damaging the others. Try to extract the one clove you need without piercing or opening up the other cloves, and this way, your garlic bulb will still last in storage.
The best way to store whole garlic bulbs is to store them in mesh bags or mesh baskets. Garlic keeps best when stored at 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit and with moderate humidity. It becomes hard to keep the garlic fresh in heated winter homes as it can cause the garlic cloves to shrivel up.
Individual cloves will last up to 3 weeks if their skin is intact. Store them in a mesh bag or loosely woven baskets. You can also store the individual garlic cloves along with your whole garlic bulbs. Store them in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight.
Do you struggle with peeling garlic? We have a great post on peeling garlic, which will make this annoying task quick and fun!
Once the garlic is peeled, it starts to degrade rapidly. This is because garlic cloves have various oil and water compounds that begin reacting with the air around them once they are peeled. This is also why you will notice that garlic cloves that have been peeled and stored for a long time have a milder flavor than garlic cloves that are freshly peeled, which is why it’s best always to use fresh peeled garlic in your dishes.
Once peeled, it is best to use the garlic cloves within 8 – 10 days. Whether peeling a whole head of garlic or just a few cloves, it’s best to store the excess in an air-tight container or in a ziplock bag to minimize contact with the air. Transfer your cloves to an air-tight container and store them in the refrigerator or toss them in a resealable ziplock bag taking care to squeeze out all the excess air before sealing it.
Once the garlic has been chopped or minced, you are on a timer. Chopped garlic will last in an airtight container for just a day. There are a lot of articles on the internet that talk about preserving garlic in oil. However, the United States Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about preserving garlic in oil after some cases of botulism were reported after consumption of garlic oil.
While the probability is low as garlic is a low acid vegetable, it can act as an ideal home for culturing Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that causes botulism. If you like most err on the side of caution, avoid the oil preserving methods and stick to using your garlic fresh.
Pickled garlic can last 3 to 6 months. If you end up pickling using the canning method, your pickled garlic can last for even a year. You can pickle garlic using any brine that you want, and once ready, store it in air-tight containers that you can refrigerate. That is the only way to make it last for three or even six months.
Even your pickled garlic can go bad in storage, so make sure you always label and date your jars and periodically check on them when stored. If they are looking moldy or are smelling off, discard them immediately.
Did you know you can dehydrate your minced garlic cloves and make your garlic powder? It is an excellent substitute for the store brought version, and you know what ingredients are in it! Simple dehydrate your garlic cloves using whatever equipment you have on hand and once the cloves have dehydrated and cooled completely, run them through your blender or spice grinder to make your garlic powder.
Store your garlic powder in an air-tight container once it is at room temperature, and you can store it in a dark corner of your pantry for up to a year!
Since the storage life of refrigerated garlic is so short, a better alternative is freezing your garlic. Whether minced garlic or whole garlic cloves, the process is the same and super simple. You can try flash freezing or even directly transferring your garlic to freezer bags and storing it in the freezer.
Frozen garlic will last up to 6 months, but you will notice that it starts to lose its flavor the longer you store it. Try and use it within 3 – 4 months for maximum flavor.
Roasting Garlic is an excellent way to add another depth of flavor to your dish. If you have an excess of roasted garlic on your hands, you can store it in the refrigerator for two weeks without any problems.
Store it in an airtight container to minimize its contact with air and toss it into the refrigerator!
Here are three simple steps you need to follow to check if your garlic is going bad – look, feel, smell.
Garlic that is starting to go bad will develop yellow spots that gradually turn brown as the garlic continues to go bad. As the garlic is going bad, or as it sits in storage for too long, you will notice the garlic cloves start to shrivel up. If the papery skin is beginning to come loose and the top of the garlic is no longer bunched tightly, it is another sign that the garlic is starting to turn.
Fresh garlic is a pretty firm vegetable. So you can easily identify if it is starting to bad when you pick it up. Garlic cloves of deteriorating garlic will begin to go bad and eventually completely turn mushy. Suppose the garlic bulb is entirely soft; you should discard it. If there is any liquid seeping out when you press the garlic, toss it as well.
Garlic is famous for its characteristic pungent smell. So while you might not get that smell while the garlic is unpeeled, fresh garlic will give off a strong fragrance. As the garlic loses its freshness, it loses some of that characteristic smell, which will help you distinguish the fresh garlic from the old one. But a loss or decrease in the potency of the smell does not mean that the garlic is going bad. It is still very safe to use. However, if you smell a strong vinegar-like sour smell from the garlic, it has a hundred percent started to rot or is already rotten, and you must toss it.
Garlic likes to be stored in a cool and dark place for maximum freshness. But if your garlic has been in storage for too long or if there is too much heat or moisture, chances are your garlic has started to sprout. Sprouted garlic does not mean that you can no longer use it. The flavor profile changes a little once the garlic has sprouted, so maybe don’t use it in any dish where the garlic is the shining start. Using a few cloves when you are cooking some dish is fine.
You can save garlic depending on what degree it has gone bad. If it is mushy and you are trying to salvage it, forget it. It’s better as fertilizer at this point. However, if a few cloves seem to be soft, you can carefully try to extract and discard them while keeping the rest of the bulb intact. Doing this may extend the life of the rest of the bulb slightly.
Garlic is a part of so many dishes that we cook that it is worth knowing how to best use and store it. This post will help you and serve as a guide for all your garlic needs!
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