How to Store Garlic So It Stays Potent and Fresh

Don't want rotten garlic? Follow these storage tips.

We'd argue that most people would feel lost without some healthy garlic in their kitchens. So many recipes from cuisines worldwide begin by sautéing garlic in oil, and just the scent is enough to make you hungry for dinner.

Since no one likes to reach for their garlic only to discover it's no longer usable, we've rounded up our best advice on how to store garlic at home so you're never forced to cook without it.

How to Store a Head of Garlic

First things first, start with good, fresh bulbs of garlic. When you're at the supermarket, look for firm cloves and tight skins. If the garlic feels soft, it's on its way out. And while pre-peeled and pre-grated garlic may seem convenient, we suggest you avoid those products because they tend to be treated with preservatives.

Instead, store heads of garlic in a cool, dry place with plenty of air circulation. For example, a basket on your counter (out of the sun) would work well. Garlic is best kept in a cool (not cold) place, so avoid putting it in the refrigerator unless you plan to use it all within a few days.

How to Store Unpeeled Garlic Cloves

If you broke off a few more cloves than you needed, don't worry! Just store the unpeeled cloves with the remaining heads of garlic and thank yourself for getting that one step ahead. Again, keep any cloves out of direct sunlight so they remain as fresh as possible.

If you notice that your garlic cloves have begun to sprout, don't worry! You can still use garlic that sprouts, but be sure to cut off any green shoots. Though not harmful, these shoots can have a bitter taste that will alter the flavor of your garlic.

How to Store Peeled Garlic Cloves

Since the papery skin acts as a protective coating, peeled garlic will rot faster than unpeeled garlic. Store peeled garlic cloves in an airtight food storage container (jar, plastic bag, etc.), and keep them in the refrigerator. Similarly, if you chop some extra garlic, keep it in an airtight container in the fridge too. In either form, use the garlic within two to three days. After that point it will start to go bad and stink up anything in its vicinity. If you know you're not going to consume the extra peeled garlic in time, follow the directions below for how to store it in the freezer.

Can You Freeze Garlic?

Yes, you can definitely freeze garlic, and it's a good idea, too. Since garlic is such a common ingredient, it's comforting to know that you're always stocked up. Some vegetables are a bit fussy when it comes to freezing, but not garlic. You can freeze garlic in pretty much every form: whole heads, peeled, and grated.

For whole heads, toss them in an airtight container (a freezer-safe bag is easiest), and place it in the freezer. If you're freezing peeled cloves, it's best to lay them out on a baking sheet and freeze them until solid before storing them in a bag. This extra step keeps the cloves from sticking to each other. Similarly, if you want to freeze grated garlic, you should begin by laying out portions on a baking sheet and freezing them until solid before combining them in a bag. Freezing grated garlic is a great hack, because you can grab a portion and add it directly to your sauté pan, no thaw necessary.

However, while garlic is easy to freeze, garlic that has been frozen won't have the same crunchy texture as the fresh stuff. With that it mind, use frozen garlic in dishes like soups and a stir-frys, where flavor (not texture) is most important.

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