Garlic is a versatile and aromatic ingredient that adds depth and flavour to countless dishes. Whether it’s roasted, sautéed or used as a seasoning, having fresh garlic on hand is essential for any home cook. But how long does garlic keep in the fridge? In this article, we will look at the storage and shelf life of garlic, as well as useful tips for prolonging its freshness and ensuring that you always have tasty garlic on hand.
Proper storage of garlic
To maximise the shelf life of garlic, it’s important to store it in the right conditions. Start by selecting garlic bulbs that are firm and free of any signs of mould or sprouting. Avoid bulbs with soft or shriveled cloves as they may not be at their optimum freshness. Keep the bulbs intact until you’re ready to use them, as unpeeled garlic tends to last longer than peeled cloves.
Garlic can be kept in the fridge to prolong its freshness. However, it’s important to note that refrigeration can affect the texture and flavour of garlic. When exposed to cold temperatures, garlic cloves can become rubbery or sprout. Despite these changes, refrigeration is still a viable option for preserving garlic, especially if you are storing it for an extended period of time.
Shelf life of refrigerated garlic
When properly stored in the refrigerator, unpeeled garlic bulbs can typically be kept for up to 3-5 weeks. However, shelf life may vary depending on the original quality of the garlic and storage conditions. Peeled garlic cloves have a shorter shelf life and can be kept in the fridge for about 7 to 10 days.
Signs of spoilage
To make sure you’re using fresh and safe garlic, it’s important to be able to spot signs of spoilage. If you notice discolouration, mould growth or a strong, unpleasant odour, it’s an indication that the garlic has gone bad and should be discarded. Also, green shoots coming out of the clove are a sign that the garlic is past its prime.
Tips for prolonging the freshness of garlic
To extend the freshness of garlic in the refrigerator, follow these tips:
- Store in a cool, dry place: Store garlic in a well-ventilated area of the refrigerator, away from moisture and direct sunlight. Avoid storing it near foods with strong odours, as garlic can easily absorb and retain odours.
- Use airtight containers: Place unpeeled garlic bulbs or peeled cloves in airtight containers or resealable plastic bags. This helps to minimise exposure to air and moisture, which can accelerate spoilage.
- Freeze for long-term storage: If you have excess garlic or want to extend its shelf life, consider freezing it. Peel and chop the garlic, then store in small portions in freezer-safe containers or ice cube trays. Frozen garlic will keep for several months and can be added to recipes without thawing.
- Preserve in oil: Another way to extend the shelf life of garlic is to preserve it in oil. Place peeled garlic cloves in a clean jar and cover them completely with a layer of oil. Close the jar tightly and store in the fridge for up to two weeks. It’s important to note, however, that garlic preserved in oil should not be stored at room temperature because of the risk of botulism.
Garlic cloves vs. garlic bulbs
Garlic bulbs are the whole, unpeeled heads of garlic, while garlic cloves refer to the individual segments within the bulb. When it comes to storage, unpeeled garlic bulbs tend to last longer than peeled cloves. This is because the protective outer layers of the bulb help to preserve the cloves and prevent moisture loss.
Room temperature storage
While refrigeration is a common method of storing garlic, you can also store unpeeled garlic bulbs at room temperature in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area. A pantry or kitchen cupboard away from heat sources and sunlight is ideal. Note, however, that room temperature storage may result in a slightly shorter shelf life than refrigerated storage.
Garlic scapes are the curly, green shoots that emerge from the garlic bulb. These scapes are edible and have a milder flavour than garlic cloves. If you have garlic scapes, you can keep them in the fridge for up to a week. They can be used in a variety of recipes such as stir-fries, pesto or added to salads for a subtle garlic flavour.
Roasting garlic is a popular way to enhance its flavour and create a creamy, spreadable consistency. To roast garlic, cut off the top of a head of garlic to expose the cloves, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in aluminium foil and bake in the oven until the cloves are soft and golden. Roasted garlic will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
Proper handling and preparation
To ensure the best quality and flavour, handle garlic with care. Avoid dropping or bruising the bulbs as this can accelerate spoilage. When peeling garlic cloves, remove any papery skin and check that there are no visible signs of mould or rot. Discard any cloves that appear damaged or discoloured.
Adjusting recipes for garlic intensity
The flavour of garlic can vary depending on its freshness and the cooking method used. Fresher garlic tends to have a stronger flavour, while older garlic may be milder. If a recipe calls for a certain amount of garlic and you prefer a more subtle or intense flavour, you can adjust the amount of garlic accordingly.
The bottom line
Garlic is a culinary staple that enhances the flavour of many dishes. If you know how to store garlic properly in the fridge, you can prolong its freshness and enjoy its distinctive flavour for longer. Remember to choose good quality garlic, store it in a cool, dry place and be on the lookout for signs of spoilage. With these practices in mind, you can confidently incorporate fresh garlic into your culinary creations, adding depth and richness to your meals.
How long does garlic last in the refrigerator?
When properly stored in the refrigerator, unpeeled garlic bulbs can typically last for up to 3 to 5 weeks, while peeled garlic cloves can last for about 7 to 10 days.
Can I store garlic at room temperature instead of refrigerating it?
Yes, you can store unpeeled garlic bulbs at room temperature in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area. However, refrigeration helps prolong its shelf life.
How should I store garlic in the refrigerator?
Place unpeeled garlic bulbs or peeled cloves in airtight containers or resealable plastic bags. Store them in a well-ventilated area of the refrigerator, away from moisture and direct sunlight.
Can I freeze garlic to extend its shelf life?
Yes, you can freeze garlic to extend its shelf life. Peel and mince the garlic, then store it in small portions in freezer-safe containers or ice cube trays. Frozen garlic can last for several months.
Can I store garlic in oil in the refrigerator?
While you can preserve garlic in oil, it should be stored in the refrigerator and used within two weeks. However, be cautious as garlic preserved in oil at room temperature may pose a risk of botulism.
How can I tell if garlic has gone bad?
Discard garlic that shows signs of mold, discoloration, or has a strong unpleasant odor. Green sprouts emerging from the clove are also an indication that the garlic is past its prime.
Can I store roasted garlic in the refrigerator?
Yes, roasted garlic can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Place the roasted cloves in an airtight container or wrap them tightly in aluminum foil before refrigerating.
Can I store garlic scapes in the refrigerator?
Yes, garlic scapes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Place them in a container or wrap them loosely in a damp paper towel to maintain their freshness.
How can I extend the freshness of garlic in the refrigerator?
To extend the freshness of garlic, store it in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area of the refrigerator. Use airtight containers or resealable plastic bags to minimize exposure to air and moisture.
Can I adjust the amount of garlic in recipes based on its freshness?
Yes, the intensity of garlic flavor can vary based on freshness. Adjust the quantity of garlic in recipes according to your preference for a more subtle or intense flavor.