Garlic is a delicious additive to just about any entree. If you’re like us, then you probably have garlic cloves tucked into the crisper drawer, sitting on the back shelf, and hiding in that little compartment in the door of your fridge. This brings us to the question, does garlic go bad?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes, garlic does eventually spoil. This species of the onion genus, Allium, is a close relative to the shallot, leek, chive, and onion. Garlic’s distinct aroma and flavor make it a popular bulb used in many dishes worldwide.
Not only that, but garlic is highly nutritious, has been found to have potent medicinal properties and health benefits, reduces blood pressure, and improves cholesterol. How long does garlic last? Garlic bulbs do not come with an expiration date stamped on them.
The shelf life of garlic varies depending on how it is stored, whether it is unpeeled bulbs stored in a dark place in the pantry or peeled cloves stored in the fridge. Understanding the various methods of storage gives fresh garlic a longer shelf life.
Does Garlic Spoil?
Keeping an abundance of garlic on hand for meals is a great idea, but how long is garlic good for before it spoils? How long can garlic last depends on several important factors. Is the garlic whole or chopped? Where is it stored?
Is the garlic being stored in a dry place with good air circulation, or is it wrapped in a plastic bag? Storage plays an essential role in the shelf life of garlic. Storing fresh garlic may seem straightforward, but improper storage leads to cooking with spoiled garlic that can make you sick.
Spoiled garlic may contain the bacteria that causes botulism, so it’s important to know what to look for before consuming garlic. We’ll show you how to tell if garlic is bad, how to store it properly for extended shelf life, and tips for using up garlic before it spoils.
How Long is Garlic Good for Before it Spoils?
There are several different ways to store garlic to maintain its freshness. This also applies to other herbs and spices, vegetables, and fruits. When do peppers go bad? What about potatoes? You certainly never want to eat or cook with a bad potato, pepper, or clove of garlic.
That brings us to the question, when does garlic go bad? When garlic and other produce is saved correctly using long term storage, it can last awhile. Unpeeled garlic lasts for up to six months, but after you peel it, the storage time diminishes rapidly.
A common mistake many people make when storing a whole garlic bulb is to store it in the refrigerator. Whole garlic that still has its peels intact stores better at room temperature.
Place whole, unpeeled garlic bulbs in a mesh basket or bag and store at room temperature in a dark spot in the kitchen or pantry. If you do not have a mesh basket, place the garlic in a paper bag that has holes punched in it for ventilation.
Place garlic cloves in a plastic bag or airtight container in the crisper drawer of the fridge. Peeled cloves last up to one week stored in this manner.
Chopped garlic only lasts one day and must be used right away unless you preserve it in olive oil, but even then, use it within a couple of days. If you have a lot of leftover chopped garlic, you can freeze it to extend its shelf life. Frozen garlic lasts up to one year.
How to Tell if Garlic is Bad
If you cannot remember exactly when you bought that head of garlic and are considering chopping some for your evening meal, you may be left scratching your head, wondering if it’s even good anymore. Here are a few signs that it is time to toss that garlic in the garbage.
To Eat or Not to Eat the Garlic
The first thing to look for when determining if you can eat garlic or not is to check for dark spots or any abnormal discoloration. If you notice any brown spots, then into the garbage it goes.
If green roots have started sprouting, this is also a sign that you need to throw it away. These new sprouts are a sign that the garlic is on its way toward spoiling.
Garlic that is soft or mushy is a noticeable sign that it is spoiled and may make you ill if you ingest it. Another sign of spoilage is the color. Garlic should be a healthy white color in appearance. If the cloves have turned yellow, toss them.
Alternative Methods to Store Garlic
There are various methods to preserve garlic for extended shelf life. Can you freeze garlic or put it in a dehydrator? Yes, you can dry or freeze garlic for long term storage or use preservatives to extend refrigeration time.
To freeze garlic, place the whole bulb, cloves, or chopped garlic into freezer bags and seal shut, making sure to push all of the air out. Write the contents and date on each bag and freeze for up to one year.
Only store garlic in olive oil for a couple of days unless you plan on freezing it to prevent the risk of botulism. Place peeled garlic cloves into a jar or airtight container filled with olive oil. Seal the storage container tightly and place it in the freezer for several months.
Pickle the garlic by placing peeled cloves into a jar or container filled with wine or vinegar. Add a tablespoon of salt and herbs if you’d like to give the garlic more flavor. Store the pickled garlic in the fridge for up to four months.
To dry the garlic, peel the cloves and cut them in half. Place the halved pieces into a food dehydrator per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Making Garlic Salt
If you find yourself with too much garlic on hand and fear it may spoil before you get the chance to enjoy its flavor, you can make a homemade garlic salt to season your favorite meals.
Place the dried garlic cloves into a blender or food processor and blend until it becomes powder. You have just made homemade garlic powder. Pour the powder into spice jars and label them.
Mix one teaspoon of fresh garlic powder, kosher salt, and onion powder in a small bowl and mix well. Pour the garlic salt into a spice jar, label, and place in your spice rack. The garlic salt stays fresh for about two years if it even lasts that long before you use it all.
The storage time of garlic can range from as little as three days to six months, depending on the method you choose.
The discoloration or green sprouts on those garlic bulbs may be a sign that you have bad garlic and can make the difference between a good meal or a bad one. Not only that, but eating spoiled garlic may have some severe health consequences.
Now that you learned the answer to the question, does garlic go bad, why not share our garlic storage tips with your friends and family on Facebook and Pinterest?