How to Store Garlic (A Step-by-Step Guide)

how to store onions

When you’re interested in tips for storing garlic, you have to first consider whether it’s fresh, broken apart or intact, its age, and a few other things.

Learning how to store fresh garlic is a little different than storing garlic you purchased at the store a week ago. You’ll likely have questions such as, can you freeze garlic? Can you store garlic in the fridge? How long is garlic good for?

Related: How Long Does Garlic Last? (In The Fridge)

This article is here to answer those and other questions about basic garlic storage, so you will get some useful information out of it if you’re a garlic-lover.

Some Basics about Garlic Storage

Learning the best way to store garlic depends on the state of the garlic itself, that is, whether whole-head, peeled, or chopped garlic.

How to store whole-head garlic

There are three tips to follow when storing whole-head garlic:

  • Do not break it apart: Keep the head of the garlic intact so it can last for several months. If you break off even one clove, that clove is only good for 3 to 10 days at the most.
  • Keep the garlic dry and cool: A great garlic storage container is one that allows air to flow well such as a mesh bag, a paper bag or a wicker basket. Store either of these things in a dark pantry.
Different ways of storing whole-head garlic
Different ways of storing whole-head garlic.
  • Can whole-head garlic be stored in the refrigerator? It can, but it shouldn’t be. Those extra-cold temperatures will make it start to sprout almost immediately and can give it a somewhat bitter taste as well.

How to store garlic from the garden

As far as harvesting garlic is concerned, you can start the harvesting process as soon as you notice the lower leaves starting to turn brown.

Garlic harvest
Garlic harvest ready for prepping for long-term storage.

To know for sure, however, you can uproot the garlic a tad and see if the cloves fill up their skins. If they do, this means the garlic is ready to harvest.

Timing is important for this task, because if you harvest them too soon, the smaller cloves won’t store well. If you leave them in the ground too long, the cloves can burst out of their skins and become more vulnerable to disease.

Garlic from the garden can be stored the same way that garlic from the grocery store is stored. The main difference is that with garlic right out of your garden, the amount of time to take care of the garlic is a bit shorter since it’s not covered in pesticides and preservatives like the garlic at the grocery store usually is.

Additionally, once you harvest the garlic from the garden you need to “cure” it.

Garlic bulbs hanging out to dry before storage
Garlic bulbs hanging out to dry.

The curing process ensures that the garlic is in good condition for long-term storage. The process is described below:

Once you uproot the head, leave them as they are and don’t rinse them off, just brush off any excess debris and that’s it. Afterward, bundle 8 to 10 garlic stems together, tie them with twine, then hang them bulb-side down in a dark, cool place such as a basement. You can also lay them flat on a raised rack of some type, then keep them this way for three to four weeks. Always keep them out of the sunlight, and once they’re cured you can go ahead and cut off the tips and roots, then do with them as you please.

How to store peeled garlic cloves

If you use garlic frequently, then you know that peeling garlic can be quite tiresome especially if you use lots of them. To save you some prep time, you can either purchase pre-peeled garlic or you can peel lots of garlic in advance and store them in batches for future use.

Peeled garlic cloves in a bowl and on a wooden cutting board.
Peeled garlic cloves in a bowl and on a wooden cutting board.

Peeled garlic cloves should be stored in the refrigerator using the following procedure:

Wash the peeled garlic cloves then dry them completely.

Method 1:

  • Wrap the peeled cloves with a towel and keep them in the fridge. They can keep well for about one to one-and-half months.

Method 2:

  • Store the cleaned garlic cloves in small batches in plastic containers.
  • Drill some holes on the container lids and keep them at room temperature, in a cool and dry place. This ensures that air circulates well. The garlic can keep well for up to two months.
  • Keep checking the containers to see if some cloves are going bad and dispose off the bad ones.

Method 3:

  • Keep the cleaned peeled cloves in a glass container.
  • Add some olive oil to the glass container up to about an inch above the garlic cloves. The oil acts as a protection against external environment.
  • The garlic can keep well in the fridge for up to four days, after which it should be discarded. The advantage of storing the peeled garlic cloves in olive oil is that you can also use the garlic-infused oil for cooking.
  • Note: Garlic stored in olive oil should not be kept at room temperature as it may lead to growth of bacteria and cause botulism. 

Method 4:

  • Keep the peeled, washed and dried garlic cloves in a freezer bag.
  • Store the freezer bag in the freezer.
  • The garlic can keep well in the freezer for up to one year. However, the cloves will soften making it hard to chop up with a knife. Using garlic crusher or food processor will make the chopping easier.

How to store diced, crushed or chopped garlic

If you’re wondering how to store chopped garlic or garlic that has already been diced or crushed, the best thing to do is put it in an airtight bag and place it in the refrigerator.

Fresh crushed garlic on wooden cutting board
Fresh crushed garlic on wooden cutting board.

You can store diced/chopped garlic in the following ways:

Method 1:

  • Keep the diced/chopped garlic in an airtight container.
  • Add some tablespoons of white vinegar and some pinches of salt (depending on the quantity of the garlic).
  • Keep the container in the fridge.
  • The vinegar and salt help to preserve the chopped garlic and keep it fresh for longer while at the same time giving it more flavor.

Method 2:

  • Alternatively, chop the garlic together with some olive oil.
  • Keep the chopped garlic in freezer bags, date-label the bags and store in the freezer.
  • It can keep well in the freezer for months, and in the fridge for a few days.

Method 3:

  • Chop/crush or process the garlic in a food processor
  • Scoop the crushed garlic into an ice cube tray and push the garlic down to the bottom of the tray
  • Sprinkle some olive oil into the garlic and freeze
  • Once frozen, transfer the cubed garlic and olive oil mixture into a freezer bag and date-label the bag
  • Keep in the freezer and use the cubes when needed.

How long does stored garlic last?

Does garlic go bad? If it does, how long does it take to go bad? Here are a few basic rules regarding how to keep your garlic as long as possible:

  • Unpeeled, whole-head garlic can last roughly six months if you keep it in a cool, dry place.
  • One unpeeled clove of garlic can last about three weeks.
  • Peeled cloves last roughly one week.
  • Chopped garlic lasts in the fridge one day, unless you cover it in olive oil, in which case it still won’t last more than three days.

When it comes to how to store garlic in the freezer, just remember that every time you place garlic in the freezer, it has to be cleaned and cut up properly first, not to mention put in an airtight bag and dated.

As you can see, the more you peel and cut the garlic, the shorter its lifespan is. So if you need to learn how to preserve garlic and make it last, these are a few important things to remember. In essence, knowing how to keep garlic fresh longer means knowing these time limitations, because fresh garlic doesn’t last forever.

Other Things to Know about Garlic

When it comes to storing garlic for a very long time, one of the smartest things you can do is to roast the garlic.

Roasted garlic will keep for up to two weeks if put in the refrigerator and up to three months if you freeze it.

Roasting the garlic essentially gives it a somewhat hardened shell that tends to preserve it for much longer, and this “curing” gives it longer lifespans than other types of garlic have.

Learning how to store garlic without smell is another concern of garlic-lovers. Fortunately, this is easy to do if you store them properly, keep them in the fridge and freezer only during the right circumstances, and most importantly, keep them away from direct sunlight. When they’re in the freezer or refrigerator, they need to be kept in an airtight bag. This keeps them from smelling up other foods and prevents the smell of the garlic itself from getting too strong.

If you want your garlic to last even longer, consider making a garlic paste, which can be used for several weeks and is used in a lot of Indian dishes. You can even use this paste (garlic paste recipe) in place of minced garlic if you like.

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