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Image by Yogesh Pedamkar
Image by Yogesh Pedamkar
Image by Xuan Nguyen

Storing & Preserving Garlic

Culinary garlic keeps the longest when stored at 60–65°F, in moderate humidity with adequate air circulation, and little exposure to light. Controlling moisture is what makes storing fresh garlic throughout the winter a challenge. Heated homes tend to be extremely dry — so dry that garlic cloves left sitting out will often just shrivel up and turn rock-like inside their papery skins after just a month or two. Pro Tip: If this happens, just toss them, skins and all, into your next batch of vegetable stock.


Here are some tips for storing and preserving culinary garlic so it stays optimally flavorful and useable well into spring so you can enjoy it almost all year:

  • Put it in a loosely closed paper bag or loosely woven basket. This will allow air to circulate while regulating the amount of moisture surround the bulbs. Never store garlic in plastic or air tight containers; it will mold, rot or try to grow. Literally a paper bag and a dark cupboard is all it takes!

  • Put it under a ceramic pot. Store garlic bulbs in a dedicated "garlic keeper" ceramic jar designed with proper ventilation. Or try putting it on a plate under an up-turned, unglazed, terra cotta flower pot with a drain hole in the bottom. This creates a small humidor without cutting off air circulation completely.

  • Put it in the crisper drawer. Storing garlic in a brown paper bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge takes care of the humidity problem, but be aware that once garlic has been in the cold, it will start sprouting within days after being brought to room temperature.

    • Grocery store garlic is often put in cold storage to extend its life, which is why it tends to sprout quickly. So if you store garlic in the fridge, keep it there until you're ready to use it. Pro Tip: If your garlic does sprout, grow some tasty garlic greens by popping the bulb in a small pot of soil on your windowsill.

  • Peel it or chop it up. Peeled cloves or chopped garlic will keep for about one month in the fridge in a small, tightly covered, glass container. This method is not a good option for long-term storing though! The minced garlic you can buy in jars at the supermarket has been acidified to keep it safe and usable for months, but what you gain in storage longevity and maybe a little convenience, you definitely give up in flavor -- yuck!

  • Turn it into minced ice cubes. Some people think frozen garlic isn't quite as good as fresh, but it's an option that is sometimes convenient when you want to keep garlic handy.

    • To prep garlic for freezer storage, put peeled cloves into a food processor or blender with a little water and pulse until they are evenly minced. Then freeze the garlic in ice cube trays, or spread it out in a thin (and eventually breakable) layer on a silicone baking sheet. Once frozen, store the cubes or pieces in an airtight container.

  • Cook with it​ then freeze your creation. This is pretty self-explanatory, but it's worth a mention; make your favorite pesto, salsa, broth, casseroles, and sauces using plenty of garlic when it's fresh, then freeze some of what you make to eat later. Easy-peasy!

  • Dry it out. Making your own dehydrated garlic is very easy and inexpensive.

    1. Thinly slice peeled garlic cloves (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 for 12–14 hours. The goal is to maintain a temperature of 125°–175°F.

    2. Once the slices are crisp and easily snappable, store them in an airtight container, and chop them in a food processor or spice grinder just before using. Homemade garlic powder can also be stored like any other dried, ground spice, but it may become caked together and require re-processing if exposed to humidity or not used quickly.

    3. You can also add some garlic powder to your favorite salt for homemade garlic salt.

    4. Dried garlic slices store well at room temperature for many months, as long as the container is airtight and tightly sealed.

    5. 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.
      Note: Putting fresh (undried or unroasted) garlic in oil creates the perfect environment for botulism to develop, and you really, really don't want to mess with botulism! If you make a fresh garlic and oil mixture, always keep it in the fridge and plan to use it up or toss it within two weeks and don't push it!

  • Bake it. This is our 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!

    1. Roasted garlic is more mellow than fresh, and can be used wherever you would use fresh garlic. It's amazing spread on good, crusty bread or dropped onto a pizza.

    2. Slice about one-half inch off the top of clean bulbs to expose the cloves inside. 

    3. In a lightly greased casserole dish, drizzle the bulbs with with olive oil, and bake at 375°F until the bulbs are soft and squishy — usually about 40–45 minutes.

    4. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze the sticky, tasty, and now soft, cloves into an airtight glass container.

    5. Seal your container and freeze. The high oil content means roasted garlic never freezes hard, and you can just scoop out what you need with a spoon. Alternately, your roasted garlic will last about one week stored this way in the fridge too.

  • Can it. Make and pressure can your favorite salsa, tomato sauce and other recipes using garlic while it's fresh. Although garlic should not be pressure canned on its own because it loses too much flavor, adding fresh garlic to your other favorite pressure canning recipes is a great preservation trick. Again, pretty self-explanatory, but worth a mention.

  • Pickle it. Pickling mellows garlic out, making whole cloves mild enough to be tossed raw into salads, or served along with olives or pickles.

    • If you've ever tried pickling vegetables, the process for pickling garlic cloves is exactly the same. You can also follow the method for making refrigerator pickles, which involves simply tossing peeled garlic cloves and any other desired herbs into a Mason or Ball jar with salt and vinegar, and leaving the jar in the back of your refrigerator until you run out. This will preserve your garlic indefinitely.

  • Ferment it in honey.Bon Appétit magazine has a recipe for Honey Fermented Garlic that we love to use each fall. When you ferment honey with garlic, the honey takes on intensely savory garlic flavors, and becomes super runny. The garlic cloves also change drastically during fermentation—losing their harsh bite while tasting mellower and sweeter.

    • Note: It is very important to use raw, unpasteurized honey when fermenting garlic. Pasteurized honey does not have all the bacteria and wild yeast that is necessary for fermentation to happen.

    • Farm Steady has a very detailed process and great tips for successfully fermenting garlic in honey.

    • Because both garlic and honey have antimicrobial, antiviral, antibacterial and antiseptic properties, garlic cloves soaked in honey boost our natural immune system, soothe a sore throat, and help with recovery from cold, flu and common respiratory infections. Healthline has a great article about the health benefits of honey fermented garlic that's worth a read.

    • Honey fermented garlic cloves can be eaten straight from the jar, or they can be sliced or minced and added to focaccia, pasta sauce, marinades and dressings.

    • The honey can be drizzled over salads, veggies, pasta, or, our favorite – pizza!

    • Garlic honey can sweeten cold drinks or tea, or be drizzled over roasted vegetables, salads, pizza, pasta, or soft cheeses.

    • Honey fermented garlic in a glass container will take about a month before the fermentation process is complete, but you can eat it anytime, and it will keep up to twelve months in a cool, dark cupboard or in the refrigerator.

    • Justyna's Garlic Matters blog (one of our absolute favorites) has a great article about Honey Fermented Garlic with everything you could ever want to know about this delicacy that's sure to become a favorite!

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