Garlic’s Shelf Life: Does It Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

image of garlic

We frequently buy more spices than we need, especially food ingredients like garlic!

After all, who doesn’t love garlic? However, if you have overstocked your garlic and feel unsure how soon you will use all of them, it makes you think, “Does garlic go bad?” “How long can you keep it fresh?”

It is important to note that any food item not stored correctly will go bad before its supposed shelf life.

Fresh garlic bulbs, in particular, can last for 3-6 months if stored at cool room temperature and in a container where the garlic bulbs can breathe. Hence, overstocking won’t be a problem, especially if you use them in every dish you cook daily.

In this article, we will talk over the following questions that you might have in mind:

  • How long does garlic last?
  • How to tell if the garlic has gone bad?
  • How to store garlic properly?

Let’s find out!

What Is Garlic?

image of garlic

Garlic (Allium sativum) is a type of bulbous flowering plant that originates in West and Central Asia. It is a strong-smelling pungent-tasting bulb that is mainly used to give flavor to many dishes.

Garlic is adored for its scent and flavor, and it is compulsory for most kitchens worldwide to have them around. In case you might be wondering, garlic is actually cousins with shallot, onion, chive, leeks, and the like.

There are many varieties of garlic, and they are divided into two main subspecies: the softneck and the hardneck. They all differ in their flavoring characteristics based on how they are grown. (*)

You will surely agree that most recipes you cook will always call for garlic, right? The market forms of garlic that you can find are:

Fresh garlic, including garlic cloves, minced garlic, peeled garlic cloves, and chopped garlic.

Fresh garlic has a robust flavor, and it can also be eaten raw. It is mainly used by mincing it to make a sauce or salad dressing.

Granulated garlic powder.

It refers to grounded fresh garlic that has a sand-like texture. Granulated garlic is commonly rubbed on raw meat to produce a flavorful result after it is cooked. Generally, you can still use this to season various dishes.

Garlic Powder.

It is made from dehydrated garlic. It has a flour-like finer consistency compared to granulated garlic. This makes it the most concentrated form of garlic which can be added to food without affecting the texture.

Aside from the culinary aspect, garlic can also be utilized as herbal medicine.

How Long Does Garlic Last?

Fresh garlic bulbs can last for three to six months. If you have peeled garlic cloves, they will stay in the fridge for a week or two. For roasted garlic, you can keep it for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, minced or sliced garlic will only last for a day as it will develop discoloration due to oxygen exposure. If you have jarred minced garlic, it can last two to three months.

Your granulated garlic and garlic powder can be enjoyed in their best quality for at least two to four years when placed in an appropriate container and in the best storage condition.

How To Tell If Garlic Has Gone Bad?

Lucky for you, it is relatively easy to spot spoiled garlic. You can clearly notice if the garlic has passed its shelf life based on its sensorial characteristics: appearance, smell, and texture. Learn how to spot bad garlic!

1. Check the appearance

Discoloration

Your garlic has already gone bad if you notice some signs of discoloration.  Due to heat or oxygen exposure, your garlic will have brown spots or yellow-colored cloves. (*)

Sprouting

Sprouting is also a sign that your garlic may have started to go bad. However, it does not always mean that your garlic is not suitable for consumption anymore. (*)

Anyhow, expect that the quality of your sprouted garlic has undergone changes, which may give off a more bitter taste to your dishes.

Mold growth

You have to stay away from moldy garlic bulbs. Mold growth is an obvious sign of spoilage. Thus, you must throw this garlic away. (*)

2. Inspect the texture.

Another way to assess if the garlic has gone bad is its texture. A softer garlic bulb could indicate that the garlic has started to deteriorate.

3. Smell the garlic.

Garlic typically has a strong and pungent smell. If you detect that your garlic smells off or is more pungent than usual, we recommend you to just throw it away.

4. Taste the garlic.

We honestly do not recommend this, most especially if the visuals or smell of the garlic already shows that it has gone bad. An off-taste is a clear indicator of spoiled food.

Tip: If you want to consume your fresh garlic before they go bad, you can use it for baking! Plus, you can spice up your bread with some melted butter and chopped or minced garlic! Yummy!

How To Store Garlic Properly?

First, store your fresh garlic in a wire mesh basket to allow good air circulation. Do not separate the cloves if you’ll only need to keep them for a while. Removing cloves from your garlic will quickly reduce its shelf life.

Keeping it in a closed container like in a plastic bag or in a closed space like the refrigerator can’t let your garlic to “breathe.” Why? Closed containers encourage moisture to build up, causing the garlic bulbs to deteriorate faster. The moist storage environment can also allow molds to grow.

Thus, make sure you have a storage area that meets these conditions:

  • Dark and dry storage location
  • Cool room temperature: 60-65 Fahrenheit or 16-18 degrees Celsius
  • Adequately ventilated
  • Away from sunlight exposure

Your refrigerator is not the best place for your fresh garlic since the cool storage environment promotes sprouting.

On the other hand, if we talk about peeled cloves or minced garlic, that’s the time you can keep them in airtight containers. Ideally, peeled cloves or minced garlic must be used within the day.

If you happen to have overestimated your calculation and ended up having more unused peeled or minced garlic, just put them in a container then keep it in the fridge.

But if you genuinely want the best solution to keep your peeled or minced garlic for a more extended period, we advise you to add a little olive oil into the sealed jar and put them in the freezer.

As for your granulated and powdered garlic, it must be placed in an airtight container to prevent moisture from clumping the powder.

Tip: If you found that your garlic has started to grow some green sprouts, that’s the best time that you can plant them instead of throwing them away!

All you need to do is stick the sprouted clove on the shallow surface of the ground and cover it with a little bit of soil. Later on, you’ll thank yourself for doing that. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it safe to eat raw garlic?

Yes, you can eat raw garlic despite its more potent taste and pungent smell. But make sure that it is not contaminated before consumption.

Plus, eating raw garlic can provide you with better health benefits compared to cooked ones. Raw garlic can help reduce your risk of acquiring cardiovascular diseases. (*)

2. Can I freeze garlic?

It’s okay to freeze individual cloves, peeled or unpeeled garlic. You can even store it in your freezer for up to six months!

On the other hand, we don’t recommend you to put your garlic in the freezer as freezing changes the texture and the flavor.

Note that frozen garlic will lose its crunchy texture, but the taste will still remain strong. Use your frozen garlic for recipes wherein consistency does not matter.

3. How to freeze unpeeled cloves properly?

There are two options that you can do to freeze your unpeeled garlic cloves. Just choose which one works for you.

The first option is, use plastic freezer wrap or aluminum foil to wrap your unpeeled bulbs. Or, you can also use a freezer bag or an airtight container.

The second option, peel and chop your garlic. You can also crush it if you want to. That depends on how you are going to use your garlic in the future. Then, wrap your garlic tightly in aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap. An airtight container or freezer bag can work as well.

4. Are garlic leaves edible?

Yes, garlic leaves are edible. In fact, most part of the garlic plant is edible except for the underground steam, roots, and the bulb’s protective papery skin.

You may consume the thin green garlic leaves by eating them raw. Yes, they’re pretty safe! You can even use them as a cooking ingredient.

Overall, garlic leaves can be used just like how you would use garlic bulbs. Not to mention, it is found that they have the potential to reduce cholesterol levels!=

5. Can garlic lower blood pressure?

Yes, some studies report that garlic can help lower blood pressure levels as it contains allicin. Allicin is an active compound found in garlic. It is not only responsible for its flavor, but it also plays a role in our cardiovascular health.

Conclusion

Garlic does have lots of uses. With allicin as its main component, it can be used as a flavoring and a health remedy.

Your garlic will quickly go bad before its expected shelf life if stored incorrectly like any kitchen spice. Hence, make sure to follow the abovementioned tips so that you can enjoy your garlic in its best quality for a longer time.

You may still consume garlic if it has slight discoloration or has started sprouting, but expect the quality will not be the same as the fresh ones.

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