Where to store garlic?

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How to Plant and Store Garlic

Whether you buy it from the store or bring it in from your garden, you’ll want to make the most of your garlic bulbs. Storing it is easy, although there are a few tips to keep in mind, particularly for storing garlic after you’ve broken open the bulb. And when you’re ready to use it, you’ll want to know how to prepare it to maximize its health benefits.

Storing your garlic in favorable conditions helps to maintain its healing properties and flavor. Properly stored garlic can last for months, ensuring that you always have some on hand for the next recipe.

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“Young wet,” or “new season,” garlic is an immature garlic that is harvested in early summer. Immature garlic needs to be stored in the refrigerator and used within a week or so. It has a fresh, mild flavor and can substitute for onions and leeks or lend a subtle garlic flavor to a recipe. Some cooks consider this the best, most flavorful garlic. As an added bonus, it may be more easily digested than dry garlic. Experiment with some of this “fresh” garlic and see how you like it.

You’ll need to dry your homegrown garlic before you store it for a prolonged time. After harvesting, carefully wash the bulb and roots. Let the garlic dry in a shady, well-ventilated, moisture-free area for a week or more. You can hang the freshly harvested bulbs from their stalks if you like.

Thoroughly drying garlic bulbs develops and concentrates their flavor, so don’t rush the process. Once dry, trim or break off the roots and rub off the outer layer of parchment. If you’ve grown softneck garlic, consider braiding it for an attractive storage option.

Whole bulbs of store-bought garlic will keep for several months or more when stored at room temperature in a dry, dark place that has ample air circulation. Keep in mind, however, that garlic’s lifetime decreases once you start removing cloves from the bulb.

Storing garlic uncovered, such as in a wire-mesh basket inside your cupboard or beneath a small overturned clay pot, is ideal.

You can also store garlic in a paper bag, egg carton, or mesh bag. Just be sure there is plenty of dry air and little light to inhibit sprouting. To avoid mold, do not refrigerate or store garlic in plastic bags.

If you’ve prepared more garlic than you need for a particular recipe, you can store minced garlic in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. Although the most active sulfur compound diminishes within a few hours, refrigeration will slightly slow the process. Use refrigerated garlic as soon as possible. Some people are tempted to freeze garlic, but this is not recommended because its texture changes, as does its flavor.

Garlic in the Kitchen

The first thing to remember about cooking with garlic is the difference between bulbs and cloves. The average teardrop-shape garlic bulb is about two inches wide and two inches tall. It typically contains about 10 to 20 individual cloves about the size of your thumbnail. Most recipes call for one or more cloves, not bulbs.

To separate the individual cloves from the bulb, place the bulb on a flat surface. Use the heel of your hand to apply firm but gentle pressure at an angle. The parchment layers will separate, allowing you to carefully remove as many cloves as you need.

Then, tenderly remove the thin covering on each individual clove. Most people reach for the plumpest cloves, but the smaller cloves have a more intense flavor.

Because one of garlic’s most beneficial ingredients, allicin, is partially destroyed by cooking, you’ll get the greatest health boost if you use it raw or only lightly cooked when you can. However, cooking garlic forms other healthy sulfur compounds, so you still receive benefits when you cook it.

Plan ahead so you can cut, crush, or chop your garlic and let it sit for 15 minutes or more before using it to activate the enzymes that turn alliin into allicin.

How to Store Garlic

Storing fresh garlic properly is vital to maintaining its flavor and maximizing its lifespan.

However, there are other ways to store garlic besides using a refrigerator or freezer.

Roast it

Roasting garlic in the oven is not only a tasty way to enjoy garlic but also a way to store it in the freezer indefinitely.

Roasted garlic can be used similarly to how you would use fresh garlic.

To roast garlic, simply grease a baking dish with olive oil and place the bulbs in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 45 minutes.

Once cooked, cut the tips of the bulbs and cloves and squeeze the soft garlic out into an airtight freezer container.

Refrigerate the roasted garlic for up to 1 week or freeze it indefinitely.

Roasting the garlic in oil prevents the garlic from fully freezing, making it very easy to use as needed.

Pickle it

Another way to store garlic is to pickle it.

To pickle garlic and store it in the refrigerator, simply follow the same process you would to pickle any vegetable. It involves a jar, salt, vinegar, and the vegetable you want to pickle.

Though pickling garlic involves a little more work, it can increase its life span up to several months.

Note that pickling tones down the flavor of the garlic. However, it is a delicious ingredient to a number of dishes, including salads, stir-fries, and hummus.

Dehydrate it

Another easy way to store garlic is to dehydrate it.

To dehydrate garlic, simple peel the cloves and cut the garlic into thin slices.

A food dehydrator works best. That said, if you do not have one, simply place the garlic slices onto a baking sheet and into the oven at 115°F (45°C) for about 30 minutes.

Once the garlic is crisp, store them in an airtight container at room temperature for several months.

The dehydrated garlic slices can also be added to oil to make a garlic-flavored oil, which can be used to dress salads and numerous other dishes.

If you make a garlic-flavored oil, be sure to store it in the fridge, where it can last up to 3 weeks.

Note that you should never put fresh, uncooked garlic in oil. This creates an environment for a type of bacteria called Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism, a rare but serious illness that attacks the body’s nerves (3).

summary

Garlic can be stored in other ways besides the fridge and freezer, including roasting, pickling, or dehydrating it.

Garlic is such a big culinary superstar that it is impossible to imagine any kitchen without it. But did you know it also has many curative properties, including helping to regulate your blood pressure? So, here’s how to store garlic properly in order to get the most out of its flavor and health benefits.

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How to store garlic

Can garlic be kept at room temperature?

The best way to store garlic at room temperature is in a cool dark and dry place with good air circulation, such as inside an open paper bag in the pantry.

Garlic can also be kept at room temperature after drying or dehydrating it. For this, you can use either a food dehydrator or an oven. Before drying the peeled garlic cloves, slice them up or mince them through a garlic press. Then, bake the garlic at about 140°F/60°C for a few hours. Once the garlic becomes crisp, take it out and allow it to cool. Afterward, the dried garlic can be kept at room temperature for many months as long as it is kept in a sealed airtight container.

Can you store garlic in the fridge?

Chopped garlic or peeled leftover garlic cloves can be kept for a few weeks in the fridge in an airtight container. Make sure you use refrigerated garlic as soon as possible.

Do not use the refrigerator for long-term storage, as it stimulates garlic sprouting.

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Can garlic be kept in the freezer?

Indeed it can. Although freezing fresh garlic will change its stability, texture, and flavor, it’s a great way to use leftover garlic that you don’t want to waste.

One option is to peel the cloves, chop the garlic finely, and then wrap it in a plastic freezer bag.

Another method is to freeze unpeeled garlic cloves wrapped in either aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Doing so will keep it as dry as possible during the freezing process.

How long can you keep fresh garlic?

At room temperature In the refrigerator In the freezer
Whole garlic bulb expires in… 6 months
Unpeeled garlic cloves expire in… 7-10 days
Peeled garlic cloves expire in… 1 week
Fresh chopped garlic expires in… 1 week 10-12 months

How can you tell if garlic has gone bad?

Look. If garlic has brown or yellow spots on it or other signs of discoloration, then it has gone bad. Mold growing on the skin is also another sure sign that garlic is no longer good to use.

Also, if the outer layer looks dry or has dents or bruises, you should throw away the affected cloves as the damage done to the flesh will make it go bad quickly.

Sprouting garlic, however, isn’t a sign that it has gone off. In fact, it’s still good to use. Just chop off and discard the sprout, and then use it as you normally would. However, when sprouting it does mean that the garlic will have a milder flavor.

Touch. Garlic should always be nice and firm when picked up. If it feels soft, mushy, or has come significantly come away from the skin, it has gone bad and should be chucked.

Smell. If the garlic has become rotten or mushy, it will release a pungent odor. So, if you get a whiff of any unpleasant smells that aren’t the usual strong garlic aroma, it means that this is the right time to bid farewell to your garlic.

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How to Make Your Own Garlic Oil

Garlic can be used to infuse your favorite oil, such as olive or linseed oil, to make your very own garlic oil.

First, peel the garlic cloves before adding them into a glass jar or plastic container filled with oil. Alternatively, you can make a puree by mixing the two ingredients together in a blender or food processor. Next, directly pop the mixture into the freezer. Leave it to infuse for at least a week. The longer the garlic stays in the oil, the stronger the flavor of the oil will be.
Be sure to keep the garlic oil in the freezer. This is because if it’s kept at room temperature it increases the risk of botulism, which can be fatal.

How to Roast Garlic in Olive Oil

Roasted garlic is easier to digest. Therefore, roasting garlic before adding it to your food is a great way to incorporate it into your dishes if you are sensitive to raw garlic.

To roast your garlic:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F/200°C
  2. Remove the outer layer of the garlic bulb
  3. Cut off the top of the cloves before putting them on the baking tray
  4. Sprinkle olive oil over each head before wrapping them in aluminum foil
  5. Bake them until very soft. This will take around 30-40 minutes.

What Are the Health Benefits of Garlic?

Garlic helps lower cholesterol levels because of its high antioxidant content. What’s more, garlic contains a high amount of sulfur that is good for cleansing the digestive system and extracting toxins. Garlic extract is also believed to relieve some illnesses like the common cold and flu.

The anti-cancer properties of garlic, like inulin, saponins, and flavonoids, help fight some kinds of cancer, such as colorectal. Consuming garlic also slows down the growth of cancer cells and minimizes inflammation. These powerful elements can also help reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.

How Do You Store Fresh Garlic Cloves?

To keep them fresh, put in an open paper bag or wire-mesh basket at room temperature in a place out of direct sunlight. Doing so will protect garlic against moisture and light, both of which trigger mold growth.

Do You Need To Refrigerate Garlic Cloves?

That depends.

You can keep unpeeled garlic at room temperature for up to 6 months. However, it is still wise to use it as soon as you can. That’s because it can still be exposed to moisture and light, even when stored properly, increasing the chances mold will grow.

However, peeled or chopped garlic cloves should be refrigerated in plastic wrap or in a sealed container.

If you’re a garlic-lover and garlic grower like me, you’ve probably got a bunch of it either in your garden or in your home right this very moment. These beautiful and delicious plants have so much versatility in the kitchen that I like to grow a big patch of them every season and store them for use throughout the year.

But storing garlic can be a challenge if you don’t know what you’re doing. There are a lot of different methods for storing garlic, some better than the others.

Let’s take a look at exactly how to preserve your garlic the right way so you can enjoy these flavorful bulbs for months to come.

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Selecting the Best Quality Garlic for Storage

A perfect example of a bruised clove. Discard these! source

Whether you’re growing garlic in your garden or purchasing it from a grocery or farmers market, there are a few quality control issues to look out for on your bulbs. Avoiding these will increase the shelf life and success rate of storing your garlic:

  • Soft Bulbs
  • Sprouting Bulbs
  • Damaged cloves and bulbs

If you’re purchasing your garlic, you’re looking for firm, fresh bulbs with dry, papery skin on the outside. If the bulb is soft, it’s probably too ripe and won’t last long in storage. Also avoid buying garlic that is refrigerated. There are many types of garlic, but their storage is all similar, so don’t worry about that.

If you’re selecting bulbs from your garden, choose ones that look healthy and undamaged by pests or disease.

Curing Garlic Before Storage

Garlic curing in a warm, dry place with air circulation.

After you harvest your garlic patch, you must cure it before you can properly store it. The curing process makes sure that the remaining energy goes to your bulbs (since that’s what we care about when we grow garlic).

Before you cure your garlic:

  1. Clean the root system of dirt
  2. Do not bruise or damage your bulbs
  3. Leave the roots and leaves intact

The easiest way to cure garlic is to tie it in 3-6 plant bunches and tie to a string. The strings should be located in an area with great air circulation and the ideal air temperature is around 80°F (27°C).

Leave your garlic curing for about two weeks. You’ll know it’s done curing when the skin is dry and paper, much like the garlic you’d buy at a store or farmers market.

Cleaning Your Cured Garlic

Garlic must be cleaned after curing to ensure good storage.

After your garlic is cured, you have to clean it up a bit before storage.

Brush your hands along the roots — they should be brittle from the curing process and come right off. Trim off the tops, but be careful not to cut too close to the bulb. You don’t want to expose any of the cloves to air.

If you’re cleaning hardneck garlic, leave the necks on so you can crack them open easier in the future.

Only remove extremely dirty outer layers of the papery skin. Otherwise, keep it on as it helps your garlic stay fresh.

Cleaning Tip: If you see any damaged cloves that you missed earlier, remove them from the bulbs. If some of your bulbs are soft after curing, use them in the kitchen instead — they won’t store well.

The Best Way to Store Garlic

Mesh produce bags are a fantastic way to store your garlic.source

The simplest way to preserve your garlic haul is to place it in mesh produce bags that you can buy online. These are reusable and provide the air circulation your garlic will need to keep well.

Here are the environmental requirements for storing garlic:

  • 60-65°F (15.5-18°C) air temperature
  • Moderate humidity
  • Good air circulation

If the temperature drops too much, your bulbs will begin to sprout after the temperature rises again. This is why attempting to preserve store-bought garlic that was kept in the refrigerated section is a bad idea.

If the humidity is too low, your garlic will dry out too quickly and shrivel.

If the air circulation is poor, your garlic has a high chance of rotting.

When cured, cleaned, and stored properly, garlic will keep for over half a year (sometimes over a year).

Other Ways for Storing Garlic

If you have fresh bulbs of garlic that you want to preserve faster than the method I outline above, there are a lot of different options for you. Some are better than others, and some popular methods of storing garlic can actually be quite dangerous — so read on.

Putting Garlic in the Fridge

Storing fresh garlic in the fridge is generally not a good idea. This is because garlic bulbs are low-acidity, making them prone to Clostridium botulinum, better known as the culprit behind botulism.

When you see garlic sold at the store in oil, it typically has a preservative like citric acid added to increase the acidity of the mixture, preventing Clostridium botulinum from forming. It is also stored at a lower temperature in commercial fridges than your fridge at home is capable of reaching in most cases.

Freezing Your Garlic

Freezing chopped garlic in an ice cube tray for easy use. source

Freezing fresh garlic is a fantastic option. Here are the best ways to do it:

  • Unpeeled whole cloves — Leave the peels on and place them directly in the freezer after harvesting or purchasing. When you need to use them, thaw them out, unpeel, and consume.
  • Chopped and formed into a block — Peel the skin off of your cloves and chop it into even pieces. You can form it into a block or any shape you wish, so long as you wrap it very tightly in a plastic bag or wrap. When you need to use it, you can grate it while frozen or simply break off a piece.
  • Pureed in oil — Peel your cloves and then blend them in a food processor or blender with an oil of your choice. I like to use a high-quality olive oil. Because the oil won’t freeze completely, you can easily scrape some pureed garlic off for use in cooking.

No matter which method you choose, it’s vital that you freeze it as soon as you’re finishing preparing. Don’t put it in the fridge or leave it out, for reasons listed in the fridge section above.

Canning Your Garlic

It’s best not to can garlic. As mentioned in the refrigerating garlic section, it’s a low-acidity plant that is prone to Clostridium botulinum. The spores also proliferate in low-oxygen environments, which canned foods are known for.

Drying Your Garlic

To dry garlic cloves, first be sure that they’re fresh and not soft or bruised. Peel your cloves and cut each of them in half. Dry them at around 140˚F (60˚C) for two hours. After two hours, reduce to 130˚F (54˚C). Take them out of the oven or food dehydrator when they are fully dry.

Storing Your Garlic in Oil

If you store in oil, freeze immediately. source

If you decide to store your garlic in oil, you need to be extra vigilant due to the potential for Clostridium botulinum development. Whatever you do, do not store at room temperature. In fact, it’s actually illegal for commercial garlic product providers to store their garlic in oil that hasn’t been acidified with something like citric acid.

Because it’s not convenient to acidify your garlic + oil mixture at home, freezing immediately after preparation is best.

Storing Your Garlic in Vinegar or Wine

One of the more interesting ways to store garlic is to place cloves into vinegar or wine and put them in the fridge. If you’re using wine, go with a dry white wine. If using vinegar, white vinegar will work. It will keep for 3-5 months in the fridge.

If you use this method, keep a watchful eye for any unusual growth on the surface of your container. This is usually mold or yeast forming due to a higher than ideal temperature, so make sure your fridge is cold enough.

What to do With Stored Garlic

No matter what storage method you use, there are a ton of wonderful ways to use garlic! Here are a few of my favorites, but please comment below with yours — I’m always looking for more ways to use this delicious vegetable.

Roasting

My favorite way to prepare garlic. source

Roasting garlic is my favorite way to cook it, due to sweet flavor that contrasts the typical flavor profile of most garlic. I love spreading it on bread or using it as a way to marinade meats.

To roast it, simply chop off the tip of the bulb to reveal an inkling of the tops of the cloves. Then wrap them in foil and drizzle some olive oil over them. Place them in the oven at 350°F (176°C) for about a half an hour to an hour. once the bulbs are soft, you can squeeze the roasted garlic straight out of the bulb.

Pickling

Pickling garlic is a favorite of many gardeners and chefs alike. It brings the pungent, strong flavor of garlic down a bit, meaning you can throw many cloves into a dish and the flavor won’t overpower everything else.

I won’t get into a full garlic pickling tutorial here, but you can peel garlic cloves and throw them in the fridge with salt and vinegar.

Making Garlic Oil

While storing fresh garlic in oil is a bad idea (unless you freeze it immediately), you can make garlic oil using dried garlic. Put chopped dried garlic into a small container and pour in some oil. Let sit for a while for the flavors to infuse and then use to your heart’s content.

Making Garlic Salt

After you’ve dried garlic, you can make an easy garlic salt by tossing it in a food processor and chopping it until it is fine-grained. Add salt of your choosing to your garlic in a 4:1 ratio and pulse for a few seconds. Don’t blend too long — you’ll create too fine a mixture and it will clump up.

Do you have a favorite method for storing or using garlic? Let me know in the comments below!

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Storing Garlic Bulbs: How To Save Garlic For Next Year

Garlic is found in almost every cuisine on the planet. This popularity has led more and more people to cultivate their own bulbs. This leads one to wonder how to save garlic for next year’s crop.

How to Save Garlic for Next Year

Garlic originates from Central Asia but has been cultivated for over 5,000 years in Mediterranean countries. The ancient Greeks and Romans enjoyed garlic with reports of gladiator consuming the bulb prior to battle. Egyptian slaves are purported to have consumed the bulb to give them strength to build the great pyramids.

Garlic is one of 700 species in the Allium or onion family, of which there are three specific types of garlic: softneck (Allium sativum), hardneck (Allium ophioscorodon), and elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum).

Garlic is a perennial but is usually grown as an annual. It is a relatively easy plant to grow provided it has full sun exposure and well amended and well draining soil. Your garlic will be ready for harvest in the mid to late summer.

Leave the bulbs in the ground as long as possible to allow them to attain maximum size, but not so long that the cloves begin to separate. which adversely affects garlic bulb storage. Wait for the foliage to die back and begin to brown, then carefully lift the bulbs out of the soil, taking care not to cut the bulb. Fresh bulbs bruise easily, which may encourage infection and affect the storing garlic bulbs, effectively cutting their shelf life.

Storing Garlic Bulbs

When storing garlic bulbs, cut the garlic stalks an inch above the bulb. When saving garlic stock for the next year, the bulbs need to be cured first. Curing bulbs simply involves drying the garlic in a dry, warm, dark and ventilated area for a few weeks. Select your largest bulbs when saving garlic stock for planting the following year.

Curing the garlic bulbs properly is crucial to storing garlic for planting. If you cure outdoors, the bulbs risk sunburn and poorly ventilated areas my facilitate disease and mildew. Hanging the bulbs from the stalks in a dark airy space is one of the best methods. Curing will take anywhere from ten to 14 days. The bulbs will be successfully cured when the neck has constricted, the center of the stem has hardened and the outer skins are dry and crisp.

Proper storage is also crucial when saving garlic stock for planting. While garlic will keep for a short time at room temperatures of between 68-86 degrees F. (20-30 C.), the bulbs will begin to degrade, soften, and shrivel. For long term storage, garlic should be kept at temps between 30-32 degrees F. (-1 to 0 C.) in well ventilated containers and will keep for six to eight months.

If, however, the goal of storing garlic is strictly for planting, the bulbs should be stored at 50 degrees F. (10 C.) at a relative humidity of 65-70 percent. If the bulb is stored between 40-50 degrees F., (3-10 C.) it will easily break dormancy and result in side shoot sprouting (witches brooms) and premature maturation. Storage above 65 degrees F. (18 C.) results in late maturations and delayed sprouting.

Be sure to plant only seed garlic that has been properly stored and keep an eye out for any garlic blight nematodes. This nematode causes bloated, twisted, swollen leaves with cracked, mottled bulbs and weakens plants. When saving and storing garlic stock from one year to the next, plant only seed bulbs that appear unblemished and healthy for best results.

Garlic season is winding down, which means those beautiful bulbs of fresh purple stripe, porcelain, and elephant garlic out in your garden or at the farmer’s market will start dwindling soon.

Whether you’ve grown your own or simply bought too much at the grocery store, here’s how to store your supply to make it last the longest.

At Room Temperature

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When you’re shopping for produce, avoid any bulbs that appear soft or damaged, or have started sprouting. (If it was a wet spring and summer, the cloves may start to grow right away and split the bulb apart even before harvest). Look for undamaged cloves for long-term storage.

The easiest way to store garlic at home is in mesh bags or loosely woven baskets. Garlic with flexible tops can be made into pretty braids to hang. But garlic with a stiff central stalk — often called hardneck garlic — will shatter if you try to braid it.

Garlic keeps longest when stored at 60 to 65 degrees and in moderate humidity. This is what makes storing fresh garlic throughout the winter so hard: Heated winter homes tend to be very, very dry — so dry that garlic cloves will shrivel up and turn rock-like inside their papery skins after just a month or two. (If that ever happens to yours, just toss ’em, skins and all, into your next batch of vegetable stock). Another trick:

Store garlic under an unglazed clay flower pot in a cupboard, creating a small humidor without cutting off air circulation, which can lead to rot.

Lacking storage space for an upside-down flower pot? There are a few other easy ways to store garlic that won’t undermine its flavor.

In the Fridge

gyroGetty Images

Storing garlic in the crisper drawer of your fridge takes care of the humidity problem. Just be aware that once garlic has been in the cold, it will start sprouting within days after being brought to room temperature. (This is why garlic from the store often sprouts.) So if you store it this way, keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. If your garlic does sprout, grow some tasty garlic greens by popping the bulb in a small pot of soil on your windowsill.

Leftover peeled cloves or chopped garlic will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge in a small, tightly covered container, but this method is not a good option for long-term storing. The minced garlic you can buy in jars at the supermarket has been acidified to keep it safe and usable for months, but I’ve never found any tested recipes for safely doing this at home.

In the Freezer

SpaulnGetty Images

You can freeze garlic, though some people think frozen garlic isn’t quite as good as fresh. The quickest way to prep it for freezer storage is to put the peeled cloves into a food processor or blender with a little water, pulse until they are evenly minced, and then freeze the puree in ice cube trays or spread it out in a thin (and eventually breakable) layer on a silicone sheet. Once frozen, store the cubes or pieces in an airtight container.

In the Dehydrator

BJI/Blue Jean ImagesGetty Images

Making your own dehydrated garlic is very easy. Thinly slice your peeled garlic (a food processor with a batch loader can do this really quickly), and pop the slices into your food dehydrator, or into a barely warm oven with the door propped slightly open; you want to maintain a temperature of 115 degrees.

Once the slices are crisp, store them in an airtight container as is or chop them in a blender beforehand. Dried garlic stores well at room temperature for many months, as long as the container is airtight and tightly sealed.

In Flavored Oil

Westend61/getty

Once you have dried garlic slices, you can make a delicious garlic-flavored oil by putting a handful of the slices in a small jar and covering them with olive oil. Use the softened slices and/or the flavored oil for making salad dressings or cooking.

Please note: Putting fresh (undried) garlic in oil creates the perfect environment for botulism to develop and you really, really don’t want to mess with botulism. If you do make a fresh garlic and oil mixture, always keep it in the fridge and plan to use it up or toss it within three weeks.

Roasted in the Oven

4kodiakGetty Images

This is my absolute favorite way to enjoy garlic, and roasted garlic can be stored in the freezer indefinitely. It’s also a great way to rapidly deal with a bumper crop, since you don’t have to peel the garlic at all! Roasted garlic is more mellow than fresh and can be used for just about anything you use fresh garlic for. It’s amazing spread on good, crusty bread or dropped onto a pizza.

To roast garlic bulbs, lightly grease a casserole dish with olive oil, chuck in some clean bulbs, and bake at 350 degrees until the bulbs are soft and squishy — usually about 45 minutes. Snip the tips off the bulbs and cloves and squeeze out the incredibly tasty, and now soft, flesh. Freeze the garlic in an airtight freezer container; it’ll last about a week in the fridge. The high oil content means it never freezes hard, and you can scoop the clove contents out with a spoon as needed.

Pickled in Vinegar

Gaby Wojciech/getty

One final way to store all your garlic is to pickle it. Pickling mellows garlic out, making whole cloves mild enough to be tossed raw into salads or served as nibbles along with olives and such. And if you’ve ever tried pickling vegetables before, the process is exactly the same.

An easier way is to make refrigerator pickles, which involves nothing more than tossing your peeled garlic cloves into a jar with some salt and vinegar and leaving that in the back of your refrigerator until you run out; they’ll keep indefinitely.

Everyone has garlic in the kitchen. Everyone. But how long does garlic last? And how long has yours been sitting there? Maybe it’s been in a nice little ceramic garlic vessel for the last year. Maybe there’s a few bulbs that have been hanging out on the top of your fridge for the past four months. Maybe there’s a renegade peeled garlic clove under your kitchen table from last night’s dinner prep. All very plausible. But are they still good?

We can give you general guidelines for how long garlic will last. If you keep a whole head of garlic unpeeled it will last close to six months. (That is, if you store it properly. More on that later.) A single, unpeeled clove will last about three weeks. But once you take the skin off, garlic starts to degrade more quickly. Individual peeled cloves will last up to a week in the fridge, and chopped garlic will last no more than a day unless stored covered in olive oil, in which case it will last two, maybe three days. But this is all assuming your garlic is stored in the right place. This is all to say that you should always buy whole, unpeeled heads of garlic and peel only as many cloves as you’re going to use at one time—as tempting as the pre-peeled or pre-minced garlic at the grocery store may look, chances are it’s been sitting around for way too long.

Chicken adobo uses a hell of a lot of garlic.

There are things you can do to make sure your garlic stays tastier for longer, and they all have to do with storage. Unpeeled heads of garlic like to live in a dry, cool, ventilated, and dark place. Even though that sounds like the fridge, it’s not. Garlic should be stored closer to room temperature, away from heat. If you follow these rules, your garlic should live a long and prosperous life in your pantry.

But say you’ve got some heads of garlic that’ve been sitting around for a while, since you haven’t been cooking that much aglio e olio lately. How do you tell if it’s still good?

You want your garlic bread grilled cheese to be as tasty as possible, right? Right.

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A Guide to Curing and Storing Garlic

You waited seven, maybe nine months, for all that homegrown garlic to finish growing. Now that you’ve dug it all up, you want to savor it for as long as possible until the next garlic crop is ready.

This is when curing becomes your friend.

Curing is the process of letting your garlic dry down in preparation for long-term storage. Curing and storing garlic allows you to enjoy the flavor of your summer harvest well into winter… and one of my favorite things about garlic is that it still stays fresh long after it’s been plucked from the ground.

No pickling, no canning. Just a simple head of garlic that looks and tastes the same as the day you pulled it.

Garlic that you want to eat right away can be used right away, straight from the garden.

Garlic that you want to cure should be moved to a dry, shady, airy place once they’re harvested — this can be under a tree, on a covered porch, or in a well-ventilated garage.

Lay the bulbs out one by one to provide good air circulation. Garlic is susceptible to sunburn (it can literally cook under the sun, which deteriorates the flavor), so you want to minimize the amount of direct sunlight it gets during the curing process.

No need to clean off all that dirt for now — you’ll tidy them up when you trim them. Don’t wash your garlic either. After all, the point is to dry them out!

You can also gather the garlic into bunches, tie them up, and hang them from their stems. If you’re feeling crafty, you can even braid the stems, just like the beautiful ones you see in Italian restaurants.

Braiding only works with nimble softneck garlics, and I find it helps to remove the scraggly bottom leaves first. The garlic is braided while some of the leaves are still green and pliable, and hung to dry in a shady spot.

Do not remove the leaves while the garlic is curing. The bulb continues to draw energy from the leaves and roots until all that moisture evaporates. Keeping the leaves intact also helps to prevent fungi or other lurking garden contaminants from spoiling the garlic before it’s fully cured.

After a month (or possibly up to two months, if the weather has been rainy or humid), the roots should look shriveled and feel stiff like a bottle brush, and the leaves should be completely brown and dried.

To clean up the garlic for storage, trim the roots and leaves (with a pair of scissors or pruners) to 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch. More dirt will dislodge and a couple extra layers of bulb wrappers may flake off, giving you a nice and neatly packaged bulb.

Remember not to remove too many wrappers in case you expose the cloves.

Garden Scissors | Wooden Basket | Garden Trug

(If you braided your garlic, you saved yourself an extra step and can simply snip a bulb off the braid when you need it.)

Set aside your most beautiful heads of garlic with the biggest cloves to use as seed garlic the following season.

Stash it all in mesh bags, woven baskets, old terracotta pots, brown paper bags, or even cardboard beer/soda cases — as long as the container is breathable and the environment stays dry.

I have even heard of people storing garlic in old pantyhose by hanging it from the ceiling, putting a knot between each garlic head, and scissoring off a knot when needed — but really, who has pantyhose laying around these days?!

Garden Trug | Mesh Nylon Bags

Once properly cured, garlic can store for several months. In general, Silverskins and Creoles are the longest-storing garlic (sometimes keeping up to a full year), followed by Porcelains, Artichokes, Purple Stripes, Rocamboles, and lastly, Asiatics and Turbans, which have the shortest shelf life (average of five months under the most optimal conditions).

Temperature, humidity and ventilation all play key roles in determining how well your garlic will store. A “cool, dark place” is the usual recommendation, and it doesn’t get any simpler than a spare cupboard or closet shelf at room temperature.

If you want to get technical, the ideal storage condition is between 55°F and 65°F, around 60 percent humidity, with good air circulation. Garlic tends to sprout at colder temps (thus, no refrigerators!) and dry out in warmer temps.

Lower humidity may cause dehydration (especially in Rocamboles, which are more finicky than other varieties), while higher humidity may bring in fungus and mold. Light is not a factor in storage, as long as you keep your garlic away from direct sun.

All that said, there is no exact science to storing garlic and I like to keep it simple. I save and reuse nylon mesh bags (the kind that potatoes and onions come in), sort my garlic into them, and hang my harvest in a storage room.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be breaking out fresh cloves in winter and perhaps even through the following spring!

Garlic Curing Sources

Cornucopia Wooden Half Bushel Baskets | Esschert Design Sussex Trugs | Okatsune Garden Scissors | Glotoch Express Reusable Mesh Nylon Produce Bags

This post updated from an article that originally appeared on July 14, 2011.

How to Harvest & Cure Garlic (Plus Save Some for Seed!)

Most of us eat garlic on a regular basis, but few realize how easy it is to grow this crucial ingredient of world cuisine. While growing garlic requires patience and some planning, the results are well worth the effort—and the crop can perpetuate itself for many years to come (we’ll explain later). For those that had the foresight to plant this culinary essential last fall, the long wait is over! It’s time to dig and cure your garlic, if you haven’t already.


Garlic being harvested in a High Mowing production field

When to Harvest

The ideal time to harvest garlic is when the lower 1/3 to ½ of the leaves have begun to “dry down”, or turn brown and papery. This signals that the plant has completed its life cycle and that the cloves have grown to full size. Leaving garlic in the ground after this point makes it more susceptible to disease, which in turn can shorten its shelf life. Not to worry, though—if your plants are all brown, just harvest them as soon as possible and discard any heads that are moldy or soft. If you planted different varieties, you’ll notice that they mature at different times. Just check them regularly and harvest each variety once half or more of its leaves are dried down.

Harvest on a dry day by loosening the soil around the garlic plants with a garden fork, then gently pulling up the garlic by the neck. Go slowly, being careful not to pierce the heads with the fork, since punctured or bruised heads will not store well. You will need to loosen the soil more and be very gentle when harvesting softneck varieties, as the neck is much weaker and more likely to break.


Chesnok Red garlic curing in a High Mowing pole barn

Curing

Proper curing of garlic is essential to long storage because, much like onions, this is when their skins become dry and papery, forming a protective barrier against moisture and mold. Curing should take place in a cool, airy place protected from sun and rain – an open barn, garage, shed, shaded greenhouse or under a covered porch all work well. It’s important to keep the garlic out of direct sunlight because hot sun can actually cook it at this stage.

Next, you can either lay the garlic out on pallets or wire mesh, or hang it up to dry. If hanging your garlic, make bundles of 10-12 plants, make a loop in one end of a piece of twine, and slip the other end of the twine through it to form a noose that holds the garlic bundle securely even as the stems dry down and shrink. Don’t worry about the dirt left on the heads, as it will dry completely and be easy to brush off later.


Cured garlic in the pole barn

Softneck garlic can be braided for curing and storage. Just remove the scraggly lower leaves, then carefully French braid the tops so that the heads are held securely in the braid. The key is to braid before the stems are completely dry, while they’re still flexible, and to do it on a soft surface (like your lap) to avoid bruising the heads.

Once your garlic is hanging or laid out to dry, leave it in place for about two weeks. The skins should be fully dry and slightly wrinkled by the end, and the roots dry and wiry. For hardnecks, trim the roots close to the head and lop the stems off about 1” above the head, brushing off any remaining dirt as you go. For braided softnecks, just trim the roots.


Trimmed garlic ready for storage

Storage

Garlic must either be stored at very low temperatures right around freezing, or at room temperature (between 60-70 degrees) with low humidity. Do not keep garlic in the refrigerator as this will cause it to start actively growing again. Garlic should also be stored so that it has plenty of air circulating around it—hanging mesh bags, baskets or braids are all good methods for keeping garlic for long storage. Just remember that hardnecks won’t store as long as softnecks – about 3-6 months, versus 9-12 for softnecks – so eat these first.


Monique planting garlic in the High Mowing Trials Field

Re-Planting the Harvest for Next Year’s Crop

One of the best things about garlic is that it has built-in seed saving potential, since each clove planted turns into a head of garlic. Once your garlic is cured, you can select large, healthy heads for planting in the fall (usually in October, before the ground freezes) for next year’s crop. Keep in mind that larger heads tend to have fewer cloves, so you’ll need more of them to plant next year’s crop (which will in turn produce larger heads with fewer cloves). If you want to stretch your seed garlic further, choose heads that have more individual cloves. Break up the heads just before planting for best results, and plant individual cloves 2” deep with the pointy end up, spacing them about 6-8” apart in rows 6” apart. Garlic prefers loose, deep, fertile soil and can benefit from a thick straw mulch in cold climates.

Excited about growing garlic? Check out our 4 new varieties available for Fall 2015!

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