Open main menu

How to Store Garlic: Tips for Home Gardeners

Published: 09.04.2023

Are you looking for ways to extend the shelf-life of your garlic? Here are some expert tips on the best way to store garlic for the long term, how to preserve garlic from the garden, and how to keep garlic fresh all year round.

Best Way to Store Garlic Long Term

Storing Garlic in a Cool, Dry Place

Garlic bulbs need to be stored in a cool, dry place to prevent them from sprouting or rotting. The ideal temperature for storing garlic is between 60 and 65°F. If the temperature is too high, the garlic will sprout prematurely, and if it's too low, the bulbs will become soft and moldy.

Get Your Garden Growing with These Essential Garlic Planting Tips

Using Paper Bags or Mesh Bags for Storage

Paper bags or mesh bags are ideal for storing garlic. These materials allow air to circulate around the bulbs, which helps to prevent mold and decay. To store garlic in a paper bag, place the bulbs in the bag and fold the top over. Make sure to leave some room at the top of the bag for air circulation.

Yes, You Can Freeze Garlic - Here's How

Mesh bags are also a great option for storing garlic. These bags allow air to circulate freely around the bulbs, which helps to prevent moisture buildup. To use a mesh bag for storing garlic, place the bulbs in the bag and tie it closed.

Hanging Garlic for Optimal Air Circulation

Hanging garlic is another way to store it long term. This method allows for optimal air circulation around the bulbs, which helps to prevent mold and decay. To hang garlic, tie the bulbs together in bunches of 4-6 using twine or string. Hang these bunches in a cool, dry place with good air circulation.

How to Store Garlic for the Winter

Harvesting Garlic at the Right Time

Garlic is usually ready to be harvested in mid to late summer, when the leaves start to turn brown and die back. It's important to harvest garlic at the right time to ensure it stores well. If you wait too long, the cloves will start to separate and won't keep as long. When harvesting garlic, be sure to loosen the soil around the bulbs with a garden fork or shovel. Carefully pull the bulbs out of the ground by the leaves or stem, being careful not to damage them.

Curing Garlic Before Storage

Once you've harvested your garlic, it's important to cure it before storing it for the winter. Curing helps remove any excess moisture from the bulbs and helps them develop a protective skin that will keep them from rotting. To cure garlic, hang the bulbs in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight for two to three weeks. You can also lay the bulbs out on a screen or wire rack if you don't have a place to hang them. Once the garlic is fully cured, remove any excess dirt and trim off the roots and stems.

Keeping Garlic in a Dark, Cool Place

After curing your garlic, it's time to store it for the winter. The ideal storage conditions for garlic are cool and dry, with a temperature between 50-60°F and humidity levels below 60%. A pantry or basement is a great place to store garlic. If you live in a humid climate, you may want to store your garlic in a paper bag or mesh bag to allow for air circulation.

Avoid storing garlic in plastic bags or containers as this can trap moisture and cause it to rot. Additionally, avoid storing garlic near foods with strong odors as it can absorb these flavors. With proper storage, your garlic should last several months through the winter.

Garlic Storage Tips for Home Gardeners

Cleaning Garlic Before Storage

Before storing garlic, it's important to clean it properly. Start by removing any loose dirt or debris on the bulbs. Do not wash the garlic with water as it can increase the risk of mold and spoilage during storage. Instead, gently wipe the garlic with a dry cloth or brush to remove any remaining dirt.

Using Airtight Containers for Storage

Garlic bulbs should be stored in a cool and dry place. Using an airtight container such as a glass jar, plastic container, or resealable bag is ideal to prevent exposure to moisture and air. Airtight containers also help prevent the garlic odor from spreading to other foods in your pantry or fridge.

Avoiding Moisture Exposure

Moisture is one of the biggest enemies of stored garlic. Avoid storing garlic near sources of moisture such as sinks, dishwashers, or humidifiers. Garlic should also be kept away from direct sunlight and heat sources such as stovetops and ovens. Keep in mind that high temperatures can cause garlic to sprout prematurely or even spoil.

How to Store Garlic from the Garden

Leaving Garlic in the Ground Until Ready to Use

One of the easiest ways to store garlic from your garden is to leave it in the ground until you're ready to use it. This method works best for those who live in mild climates where the ground doesn't freeze. Garlic can stay in the ground for several months, and the longer it stays there, the stronger its flavor will be. However, leaving garlic in the ground too long can cause it to sprout or even rot.

To store garlic in the ground, make sure to harvest it before the first frost. Gently pull the bulbs out of the soil, being careful not to damage them. After harvesting, remove any excess soil from the bulbs and allow them to dry in a warm, dry place for several days before using them.

Using a Root Cellar for Storage

If you live in an area where winters are harsh and frost is common, storing garlic in a root cellar is an excellent option. A root cellar is a cool, dark, and humid space that is perfect for storing root vegetables like garlic. The ideal temperature for storing garlic is between 32-40°F with a humidity level of around 65-70%.

To store garlic in a root cellar, clean the bulbs thoroughly and allow them to dry for several days. Then place them in a breathable container like a mesh bag or a wooden crate. Make sure to store them away from other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas as it can cause garlic to spoil.

Making Garlic Powder or Garlic Oil for Preservation

Another way to store garlic from your garden is by making garlic powder or garlic oil. Garlic powder is made by drying out fresh garlic bulbs and then grinding them into a fine powder. Garlic oil is made by infusing fresh garlic cloves into oil.

To make garlic powder, peel and slice fresh garlic cloves into thin pieces and spread them out on a baking sheet. Allow them to dry in a warm, dry place for several days, then grind them into a fine powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Store the powder in an airtight container.

To make garlic oil, peel and crush fresh garlic cloves and place them in a sterilized jar. Cover the garlic with oil (such as olive or vegetable oil), making sure the garlic is completely submerged. Seal the jar and store it in a cool, dark place for several weeks, shaking it occasionally to infuse the garlic flavor into the oil. Once the oil is infused, strain out the garlic and store the oil in a sterilized jar.

Preserving Garlic from the Garden

Freezing Garlic for Long-Term Preservation

Freezing garlic is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to preserve garlic from the garden. Start by peeling the cloves and chopping them into small pieces. Then, place the chopped garlic in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag and store it in the freezer. Frozen garlic can last up to 6 months in the freezer. When you're ready to use it, simply take out the desired amount and let it thaw before adding it to your recipe.

Pickling Garlic for Added Flavor and Shelf-Life

Pickling garlic is a great way to add flavor and increase its shelf-life. To pickle garlic, start by peeling the cloves and placing them in a sterilized jar. In a saucepan, combine vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and any desired spices (such as bay leaves or peppercorns) and bring to a boil. Once the mixture has cooled, pour it over the garlic in the jar, making sure that all the cloves are covered with the liquid. Store the jar in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks before using. Pickled garlic can last up to 6 months in the refrigerator.

Drying Garlic for Long-Term Storage

Drying garlic is another effective way to preserve it for long-term storage. Start by peeling the cloves and slicing them into thin pieces. Then, place the sliced garlic on a baking sheet and dry them in an oven set to 150°F for about 4-6 hours. Alternatively, you can hang whole bulbs of garlic in a dry, well-ventilated area for several weeks until they are completely dry. Once dried, store the garlic in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Dried garlic can last up to 6 months.

How Long Do Garlic Last in the Fridge?

Understanding the Lifespan of Garlic

Garlic is a kitchen staple, and as a gardener, you are likely to have a bountiful harvest at some point in the season. To make the most of your garlic crop, it's essential to understand the lifespan of garlic. Freshly harvested garlic bulbs will last for several months, but once they are peeled or broken apart, their shelf life decreases significantly. Garlic will start to lose its flavor and aroma within a few days of being peeled or crushed.

Refrigerating Garlic for Short-Term Preservation

If you have peeled or crushed garlic and want to extend its shelf life, refrigeration is your best bet. Place the garlic in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Avoid storing garlic in plastic bags as it may cause it to spoil quicker. It's also important to note that refrigerated garlic may start to sprout after a few days, but this won't affect its flavor or quality.

Using Frozen Garlic for Extended Storage

If you want to extend the lifespan of your garlic even further, freezing is an excellent option. Frozen garlic can last for up to six months without losing its flavor or aroma. To freeze garlic, peel and chop it into small pieces and place them in an ice cube tray. Fill each compartment with olive oil or water, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer the garlic cubes into a freezer-safe container or bag.

How to Keep Garlic Fresh

Avoiding Moisture Exposure

One of the most important things to keep in mind when storing garlic is to avoid moisture exposure. When garlic is exposed to moisture, it can start to sprout or even rot. To prevent this, make sure your garlic is completely dry before storing it. You can do this by letting it air dry for a few days or by wiping it down with a clean, dry cloth.

Another way to avoid moisture exposure is to keep your garlic in a dry, cool place. A pantry or cellar is ideal, but if you don't have access to these spaces, you can store your garlic in a cabinet or on a shelf that's away from the stove or any other heat source.

Using a Garlic Keeper or Ceramic Jar

A garlic keeper or ceramic jar is an excellent way to store garlic. These containers are specifically designed to keep garlic fresh by providing the ideal storage conditions. They have small holes that allow for air circulation and prevent moisture buildup.

To use a garlic keeper or ceramic jar, simply place your garlic cloves inside and store it in a cool, dry place. These containers are also great for keeping garlic visible and easily accessible in your kitchen.

Storing Garlic Separately from Other Produce

Garlic has a strong odor that can permeate other foods if stored too close to them. To prevent this, it's best to store your garlic separately from other produce. You can do this by placing your garlic in a mesh bag or in a separate container.

It's also important to note that garlic should not be stored in the refrigerator. While some people believe that refrigeration can help prolong the life of garlic, it can actually cause it to spoil faster. The cold temperature and moisture in the fridge can lead to mold growth and sprouting.

Healthy and Delicious: Tips for Growing Garlic in Your Own Garden

Final Tips

Checking Garlic for Quality Before Storage

Before you store your garlic, it's important to check it for quality. Inspect each bulb and make sure there are no soft spots, mold, or signs of rotting. If you notice any of these, discard the bulb immediately. It's also important to remove any dirt or debris from the garlic bulbs before storing them. You can do this by gently wiping them down with a dry cloth.

Using Your Garlic Harvest in Creative Ways

Once you've harvested your garlic and stored it properly, it's time to start using it in your cooking! Garlic is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide range of dishes, from soups and stews to sauces and marinades. You can even use it to make your own garlic-infused olive oil. Some creative ways to use your garlic harvest include:

  • Roasting garlic bulbs whole and spreading the soft, caramelized cloves on bread or crackers.
  • Adding minced garlic to mashed potatoes or roasted vegetables for extra flavor.
  • Using garlic-infused oil as a base for homemade salad dressings.
  • Making garlic butter by mixing minced garlic with softened butter and spreading it on bread or using it to cook steak or seafood.

Experimenting with Different Storage Methods

While storing garlic in a cool, dry place is the most common way to keep it fresh, there are other methods you can try as well. Some people swear by storing their garlic in mesh bags or hanging it up in braids. Others store their garlic in a jar filled with oil. While these methods may work for some people, it's important to note that they may not be as effective at preventing sprouting or rotting as storing garlic in a cool, dry place.

Author: Michael Chen
Bio: I'm gardening specialist with a mission to empower people to grow their own fruits and vegetables. With my background in Plant Science from the University of California and experience working with farmers and community gardens, I'm dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture practices and helping individuals achieve bountiful harvests. Let's get growing!