Fresh garlic can add a bit of spicy, pungent flavor to just about any savory dish.
If you bought a bit more garlic than you need, no worries — as long as you know how to store garlic properly, unpeeled bulbs can stay fresh for up to five months.
Here are six techniques to help your garlic supply stay fresh for as long as possible.
1. Store It Somewhere Cool
Fresh bulbs should be stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry. “For most people, the pantry fits the bill,” says Adrien Paczosa, R.D., L.D., CEDRD-S.
If your pantry has a window, consider adding a shade to block light and heat.
The ideal storage temperature is around 60° F. It’s okay if your kitchen is typically a bit warmer than that, but don’t store garlic in a cabinet next to the stove.
Trapped moisture can cause garlic to spoil, so store bulbs in a well-ventilated container such as a wire or mesh basket.
2. Refrigerate It
The fridge generally isn’t the ideal place to store garlic. While storing whole, unpeeled garlic in the crisper drawer will help to prevent moisture, garlic will actually sprout faster in cold temperatures — so the pantry is still a better bet for fresh bulbs.
Leftover chopped garlic can be stored in the fridge, but use it up quickly as it may start to sprout or spoil within a few days.
“If you’re going to put it in the refrigerator, store it in an airtight, glass container because plastic is permeable and will absorb the smell,” Paczosa says. “I love Mason jars because they’re glass and you can get a tight seal.”
If garlic starts to sprout or change color, it’s time to toss it.
“When you open it, it should be white,” Paczosa adds. “If it’s tan or has spots on it, it’s going bad.”
3. Freeze Single Servings
If your garlic is nearing the end of its shelf life, prep it and store it in the freezer.
“Pulverize it by putting it in a blender, and then put it in an ice tray to freeze,” says Paczosa. “This gives you about a tablespoon ready to thaw and use.”
It’s much easier than peeling and chopping a fresh clove every time you cook — and you won’t have to worry about your hands smelling like garlic!
4. Buy Prepared Garlic
The strong flavor of fresh garlic isn’t for everyone. Prepared garlic — which may be stored in oil, water, or vinegar — tends to have a lighter flavor than fresh garlic, but it still has the same healthy benefits.
(Just keep in mind if the garlic is stored in oil, there will be added calories coming from the oil.)
If you want to avoid the flavor of vinegar or the added calories of oil, opt for prepared garlic that’s soaked in water.
5. Pickle It
If you’re looking for a new flavor profile for your garlic, try pickling it. By storing garlic cloves in vinegar, you not only extend the shelf life, but you also create a tasty treat.
“For the garlic lovers, you can have pickled garlic just like an olive on a charcuterie board,” Paczosa says. “Sliced pickled garlic with cheese and crackers adds a different texture and taste.”
6. Roast and Store
If you have a bunch of fresh garlic and don’t know what to do with it, simply roast it and freeze it to keep it fresh longer. Here’s how:
- Peel the outer layers away from the garlic and cut the top off the bulb.
- Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Wrap garlic in foil and place in a baking dish.
- Bake at 400°F for about 40 minutes.
- Let cool and remove cloves.
Store the roasted cloves in the freezer and thaw as needed. Roasted garlic has a mellow garlic flavor and is great for cooking and spreading on toast or crackers.