How Long Does Garlic Last? Tips To Store Garlic And Extend Its Shelf Life

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The ways to use garlic are endless. From the garlic butter buns, served next to a beautiful fried egg, to the perfectly spiced hummus or pesto, the touch of garlic is unique. And what would life be without this pungent bulb, a common ingredient in every kitchen?

I don’t know about you, but personally, I cannot imagine cooking without this culinary gold. As such, garlic deserves much more attention in terms of proper storing.

If garlic heads are stocked accordingly, this seasoning will take longer and be as tasty and perfumed as when fresh. If you are curious about how garlic lasts longer, don’t worry, we will cover you. This article will tell you everything about the methods of storing garlic and some tips and tricks to make it last longer.

Basics About Garlic

Basics About Garlic

Few people know that garlic (1) is actually considered by some to be a herb. I would rather say that it looks so closely to an onion, and they are both coming from the same family, a family that includes some plants such as leeks and chives.

Looking at garlic, it is safe to say that it can be used in lots of ways when cooking, from sauces to main courses, meat, vegetarian dishes. However, it has another purpose and that is being used as medicine. Yes, you heard it right.

Garlic has amazing medicinal properties (2), whether you take it fresh or indifferent drugs.

While some people prefer to grow it their own, most of us will buy it from different stores.

Why is Selection Critical?

Learning about storing garlic properly will help you keep it fresh for a long time. Let’s begin with the first contact you have with the garlic heads. When purchasing this herb, I bet you want some unrefrigerated, dry, and hard garlic you can use in your dishes immediately.

Now, when going shopping, make sure you are looking for those bulbs that look the freshest. As long as their appearance is fresh, it means the bulbs will last longer.

Try to spot some garlic heads that are firm enough, and have papery white skin. Sometimes, this skin can be translucent.

Softer garlic heads that are already over-ripened will not last as much as the firm ones. Another essential aspect to check is the center of garlic. You don’t want to buy garlic that has visible sprouts from the center.

Furthermore, do not purchase any herbs that look shriveled. Try to avoid refrigerated garlic, so go only to your favorite market’s fresh corner.

This video explains how to select garlic from stores.

How Long Would Fresh Whole Bulb of Garlic Last?

How Long Would Fresh Whole Bulb of Garlic Last

Well, like many of the vegetables we purchase, fresh garlic does not have a predominated best-by-date or an expiration time. The shelf life of garlic (3) depends on the way you are storing it, how fresh it was when purchased, as well as its variety.

Once it is properly stored, the whole bulb of garlic can last from three months to five months in a cool, dry pantry.

However, if the bulb is broken, this shelf-life might decrease, so you can expect garlic’s quality to be poorer. On the other hand, the individual unpeeled garlic pieces will last somewhere around seven to ten days in a pantry.

Processed Garlic-How Much Does It Last?

When I refer to processed garlic, I mean:

  • Powder garlic
  • Frozen garlic cloves
  • Minced garlic
  • All the types of garlic that come in a special jar and have an expiration date

Peeled and chopped garlic will stay best in the fridge, and you can consume it in 10 to 12 months. The same happens with the frozen garlic. But when it comes to the processed garlic previously enumerated, those types will come with an expiration date written on the label. Don’t worry, most of these dates are accurate enough, so you should follow them.

Usually, if you prefer chopped, minced, or other types of prepared garlic in a jar, these will last around three months once stored in the fridge.

However, suppose you have already bought some commercial jarred garlic (4). In that case, you should know that this type of processed garlic would mostly have preservatives, such as citric acid.

This ingredient will prolong the shelf life of garlic. Needless to say that I strongly recommend making your own minced garlic. As preservatives, just use some extra virgin olive oil, and it will be enough. This mix can last for 2-3 weeks if stored in the fridge.

Tips To Store Garlic And Extend Its Shelf Life

Tips To Store Garlic And Extend Its Shelf Life
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1. Drying Garlic

Drying Garlic

If you use to plant garlic to have it for the whole year, make sure it is dry enough before storing it. This simple process will allow the garlic flavor to become even more concentrated, while the shelf life will be longer.

Right before leaving the herb to dry, make sure you will wash the plants evenly and allow them to dry in a cool, dry place for about a week.

A great tip is to hang them from their stalks, as our grandparents used to do. This easy trick will help the herb to dry faster and smoothly. Here are the easy steps to braid garlic and hang it for drying.

2. Choose Open Containers

Choose Open Containers

In deciding how to properly store fresh garlic, make sure you will be choosing only open containers. Whether they are wood or plastic caskets, they should only stay in cool room temperatures.

Don’t forget that garlic will best resist in a dry and dark place. Never choose to store it in a refrigerator for long periods of time, as this environment will only increase sprout contamination.

As long as you will start removing cloves from the garlic surface, the shelf life will decrease.

3. Use Paper Bags

Use Paper Bags

A great choice in determining proper storage for garlic is using some hanging wire mesh basket, but if you do not have enough space for such a container, then paper bags are also a great option.

You want to avoid plastic bags, zip-lock bags, or the refrigerator. This environment won’t allow the herbs to breathe, and they can produce moisture that will only make the bulbs fastly deteriorate. In time, the garlic head will develop mold.

4. Storing Processed Garlic

Storing Processed Garlic

Once the garlic has been processed, the whole thing changes. If you remove the skin and start cooking it or just smash the bulbs, there is another storage story.

To extend the shelf life of peeled cloves, store them in closed containers, then place them in the refrigerator. If you have chopped the garlic heads, add a little amount of olive oil, put everything in a sealed jar, then store it in the freezer.


Keep in mind that once freezing the garlic, you might lose some of its flavor and texture.

Benefits of Proper Garlic Storage

Once learning to store garlic properly, you will enjoy a better taste. Even during wintertime, your food will be delicious, you will eat healthier, and cut the food costs. Furthermore, you will discourage food waste.

How To Tell if Garlic Has Gone Bad

Whether you have done everything right and the garlic has been stored properly, accidents can still happen. Here is what you need to do to know the garlic has gone bad or not:

  • Check Its Look

Spoiled garlic will develop brown spots on the cloves or turn too yellow or brown instead of the creamy color.

Another sign of bad garlic is the new sprouts or the green roots that are forming right in the center of the clove. Though these are not toxic or harmful, they will change garlic’s taste in a very bitter flavor.

  • Smell

You already know the fresh, original smell of garlic: it is kind of spicy, a bit pungent also. If you notice any distinct smell, a sour one, stop consuming those garlic heads. Make sure you also throw them out. Otherwise, they can contaminate the other bulbs.

  • Feel

The garlic bulbs should be all firm to the touch. Garlic might become a bit softer after a few months. It’s normal. However, if the garlic is too mushy, you should better not consume it.

Personal tip: If the garlic is hard to peel and it sticks to your fingers, your garlic is super fresh.

Last Thoughts

Obviously, the last thing you want to eat is some mushy garlic, which tastes bitter and has brown or yellow spots. Now that you have learned the best tricks in storing these herbs, you can make the garlic bulbs last longer. Do you know other tips?

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