It can be hard to know what to do with garlic since there are so many ways to buy and prepare it. This can make knowing how to preserve garlic, or if it can even go bad in the first place, difficult.
Garlic can go bad, but depending on what type of garlic you have and where you keep it, garlic can go bad in a day or in a year. Generally speaking, whole garlic lasts longer in the pantry, up to six months, while processed garlic only lasts a week at most in the refrigerator, but it can last up to a year in the freezer.
Different types of garlic have different storage needs and shelf lives, and this article will go over the most common types.
Does Garlic Go Bad? How Long Does Garlic Last?
Since garlic comes in many different forms it has many different shelf lives depending on what type of garlic you buy and how you store it.
How Long Does Garlic Last Outside
The only type of garlic you can store outside a refrigerator or freezer is garlic cloves, since any type of minced or chopped garlic will go bad in less than a day without protection.
In contrast, whole garlic cloves can last up to six months in the pantry since the thick skin of the bulb protects the garlic underneath from going bad, and also prevents the smell of garlic from sinking into everything around it.
Once you break up the garlic cloves, however, they only last for a month in the pantry before they start to go bad, so you are better off leaving garlic whole until you need it.
How Long Does Garlic Last in the Fridge
Refrigeration does nothing to help unpeeled garlic, since the peel is what preserves the bulb and the cold temperatures of the fridge do nothing to help with that,
Where refrigeration matters with garlic that has been already processed in some way, like peeled garlic which can last up to a week in the fridge or freshly minced garlic which will last one day.
If you have processed garlic in a preserved jar, however, then this can easily last up to six months in the refrigerator before it starts to go bad, making it a great alternative to peeling and mincing cloves.
How Long Does Garlic Last in the Freezer
Just like with the refrigerator, freezing whole bulbs of garlic does nothing to preserve them and in fact can damage the bulbs since they are vulnerable to extreme cold.
The only type of garlic you should consider freezing is garlic that has been completely peeled, since that won’t suffer in the cold as long as you use an airtight and freezer safe container.
Regardless of how the garlic is prepared, whether it is just peeled or it is completely minced, garlic can last from ten months to a full year in the freezer as long as you have the right container.
Whole cloves of garlic can last months on the counter, but only peeled and processed garlic should be refrigerated or frozen, where it can last up to a year.
How To Tell If Garlic Has Gone Bad / How To Know Garlic is Fresh
It can be difficult to tell if garlic has gone bad since the plant naturally has a strong smell and taste which can be interpreted as spoiled if you are not prepared. While scent can be a good indication that your garlic is bad, there are other factors to look at when deciding if your garlic is spoiled.
Appearance. As garlic goes bad its surface color will change from white to either yellow or brown as the plant begins to rot. If your garlic starts to turn green and develop new roots or sprouts then your garlic is still fresh but is actively growing, so you will need to trim these growths back before preparing the garlic.
Texture. Good, fresh garlic should feel firm to the touch, and it should take significant pressure to bend or crush good garlic. If you have garlic that is soft, mushy, or moist then you should throw it out immediately since these are all signs that it has long gone bad and is rotting inside the clove.
Smell. While garlic can have a very pungent smell, fresh garlic should smell both distinct and pleasant, especially after you crush or chop it. If you begin working with a clove of garlic and find it has a strong bitter or sour smell then you are better off throwing it out since an unpleasant change in smell is a sign that your garlic is bad.
How to Store Garlic?
How you should store garlic depends on whether the garlic is in whole cloves or in some chopped or minced form since this changes how the garlic can be stored. The clove of garlic protects it from aging and spoiling so whole garlic can be left out while processed garlic needs to be specially stored.
Whole Cloves. Bulbs of garlic don’t need to be refrigerated or frozen to survive, so all you have to do is keep them somewhere cool and dark with decent ventilation. Light and heat can cause garlic to go bad more quickly while having some ventilation will prevent the smell of the garlic from seeping into everything around it.
Processed Garlic. After garlic has been minced, chopped, or crushed, it won’t have the protective husk of the clove to prevent it from going bad. Due to this the best way to store this type of garlic is in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer where it will stay fresh longer without causing everything else in the appliance to smell like garlic.
Can You Freeze Garlic? How?
While you can freeze garlic to preserve it you should only try to freeze processed garlic, since full cloves don’t need to be frozen and can actually be harmed by extreme cold. As such you should always chop, mince, crush, or otherwise peel garlic before you freeze it and you can freeze already processed garlic without much prep time.
Peel and dry your garlic first. You should not freeze garlic with any liquids on it unless you are freezing an already processed jar of minced garlic, since you need those preservatives to keep the garlic fresh. Any other type of garlic will have to be thoroughly peeled and dried to make sure it won’t suffer freezer burn.
Use a dry, airtight container. Just like with the garlic itself, it is important that the container you put your garlic in is dry and watertight to make sure your garlic doesn’t suffer freezer burn. It must also be freezer safe and airtight, since peeled garlic has a very strong smell that sticks to everything around it, changing its taste and aroma.
How to Thaw Garlic?
While you can thaw frozen garlic by leaving it out in the refrigerator or the freezer to defrost, you don’t technically need to thaw frozen garlic to use it.
You can throw frozen garlic into a recipe without losing any flavor or texture, so you only need to defrost garlic to loosen it up for easier use or if you need to mince it further.
Frequently Asked Questions About Garlic’s Shelf Life
The shelf life of garlic varies wildly depending on how you buy it and how you store it, so of course there are many questions about how long garlic is supposed to stay fresh. This article will take two common questions and provide some answers to help you get the most out of your garlic.
Can you grow garlic at home? Yes, not only can you grow garlic at home, even indoors, but you can use peeled gloves of garlic to help you grow more garlic. Each individual clove on a bulb of garlic contains garlic seeds, and if you peel the clove and plant it you can grow your own garlic at home.
Can you make peeled garlic last longer? Yes, you can preserve peeled garlic for longer by putting the cloves in a mason jar or another glass container and filling it with olive oil. By doing this you can preserve fresh garlic for up to a month, significantly longer than peeled or minced garlic usually lasts in the refrigerator.
While garlic can go bad, its exact shelf life depends on what type of garlic you buy and how you choose to store it. Depending on the circumstances, garlic can last from one day to over a year if you know how to store it properly.