How to store fresh garlic

Tip: Skip the Plastic Bags

How to store fresh garlic

The Spruce / Lisa Fasol

If you love cooking with garlic, you probably use it in everything from sauces, soups and stews to veggie dishes, pizza, pasta, and even eggs. Which means you likely always have some on hand. In which case, you’ve probably found that it doesn’t always stay fresh as long as you might like.

Sure, garlic is inexpensive, but that doesn’t mean you want to waste it, or have to make extra shopping trips to buy more. So what’s the best way to keep garlic fresh in your home?

Compared with many vegetables, garlic will last a relatively long time no matter what. But for maximum shelf life, garlic prefers a fairly narrow range of specific conditions.

Selecting and Buying Garlic

The first thing you can do to ensure your garlic lasts as long as possible is to make sure the garlic you buy at the store is as fresh as it can be. When choosing your garlic bulbs, look for ones that are firm (i.e. don’t give when squeezed) with tight, dry skins, and are free from any black powdery substance which is, in fact, mold.

Your garlic bulbs should also show no signs of sprouting. If you see the beginnings of green shoots emerging from the tops, skip those bulbs.

Keep It Cool (But Not Cold)

The most crucial factor for storing garlic is temperature. And the best temperature for storing garlic is one that’s cool, but not cold, and definitely not warm. The ideal temperature is around 60 to 65 F.

And if your kitchen naturally runs at that temperature, you’re in good shape. But kitchens rarely stay at 60 to 65 F on their own, especially all year round and it’s a difficult temperature to produce artificially. The best you can realistically do, then, is find the coolest location in your kitchen and keep your garlic there. This typically means a cupboard, away from the stove, oven and any other heat sources (including sunlight) and one that’s situated as close to the floor as possible.

The inside of your fridge will, of course, be colder than 60 F, and is therefore not the best place to store garlic. You can store it there for short periods, and in certain cases it’s actually preferable, and we’ll discuss those shortly. But overall, think cool, not cold.

Keep It Dry

Another enemy of fresh garlic is moisture. A humid environment will cause your garlic to rot. And depending on the climate where you live, you might not have much control over this, especially in the summer. But there are a couple of things you can do.

One, make sure you don’t store your whole garlic bulbs in plastic bags of any kind. Not only will this prevent air circulation, but it will also trap the natural moisture of the garlic, thus accelerating spoilage.

And two, if you must refrigerate it, keep it in the main part of your refrigerator rather than in the crisper drawers. Or, keep it in the crisper drawer on the low humidity setting and preferably alone, as opposed to crowded in with a bunch of other items.

Keep It Ventilated

Garlic needs to breathe to stay fresh. If it’s sealed up it will start to rot or become moldy. And yet we’ve already said that the kitchen cupboard is the best place for storing garlic, and obviously there isn’t a huge amount of airflow in a kitchen cupboard. But we’re trying to balance all the factors, and temperature is more important than ventilation.

Still, though there might not be much airflow in a cupboard, there’s even less in a drawer. So given a choice, go for the cupboard over the drawer. Likewise, if you have a crowded cupboard and an empty one, use the empty one. Paper bags are better than plastic, and mesh bags are better than paper. Best is no bag at all. Worst of all is a plastic bag.

Can You Refrigerate Garlic?

You can refrigerate whole garlic bulbs, but they won’t last as long. This might seem counterintuitive, but refrigerating garlic causes it to sprout much more rapidly. Garlic is typically planted in the fall, and its roots develop in the fall and winter, when the ground is cold. So refrigerated garlic will last a few weeks before sprouting, as opposed to months when stored at 60 to 65 F. With that said, assuming you use it quickly, it should be fine.

And also note that sprouted garlic is perfectly safe to eat, as are the shoots themselves, although they can impart a bitter flavor to the garlic. If your garlic starts to sprout, you can simply peel and slice the cloves lengthwise and then remove the green shoot from the center of the clove using your fingers or the tip of your knife.

Keep It Whole

One of the reasons garlic lasts so long is that its natural structure of individually wrapped cloves covered by a papery outer skin is remarkably effective at keeping the cloves cool and dry while allowing them to breathe, which, as we’ve seen, are the most optimal conditions for it.

Indeed, assuming all other conditions (i.e. temperature, humidity and so on) are acceptable, a whole bulb of garlic can easily stay fresh and unsprouted for several months.

But all of that changes when you break up the bulb. Once you start separating the cloves, whatever is left will succumb to spoilage within 10 days or so. But obviously the whole point of buying garlic is to use it. But the point is, once you break up a bulb, plan on using it up within 10 days. You can also peel the remaining cloves, seal them in a plastic baggie or other airtight container and refrigerate them for 2 to 3 days.

Don’t be fussy when it comes to garlic storage. Simply keep the heads together and allow for air circulation.

Where would we be without garlic? Pungent when raw, mellow when cooked, it adds a delicious aroma and deep flavor to so many dishes. Yet beyond garlic’s ability to turn recipes from good to great, there’s another reason to love this workhorse of an ingredient: From a storage standpoint, it’s one of the most low-maintenance foods you can have in your kitchen. Garlic benefits from a pretty hands-off approach: Give it the air and space it needs, and it’ll love you back.

The first thing you need to remember about storing garlic is that it keeps best when kept together. Resist the temptation to break the cloves off the bulb until you’re ready to use them, and leave them together, covered in their paper covering. They’ll stay fresh longer this way—we’ve seen them keep well up to six months!

Second, don’t fret too much about what kind of container you keep the garlic in. A terra-cotta or ceramic container specifically designed for garlic storage is great, but so is a paper or mesh bag, a wire basket, or even just a simple bowl. The goal is to encourage the circulation of dry air, which is why a plastic bag is a no-no since it seals in moisture.

Finally, stash your garlic someplace dark and cool. The pantry is a good spot (the refrigerator, not so much)—that is, as long as you keep the garlic away from potatoes (garlic, onions, and other alliums emit gases that can hasten sprouting in those spuds). Why keep garlic away from light and moisture? These conditions contribute to sprouting (which doesn’t necessarily mean the garlic has spoiled, but sprouted garlic—you’ll know it by its small green shoots—can taste bitter) and mold growth.

Once you start breaking the cloves off from the bulb, the garlic will begin to deteriorate. After removing the first clove, you probably have about 10 days to two weeks before the remaining garlic on the bulb begins to sprout.

Now, if you’ve peeled more cloves than you need, the fridge is actually the best place to store them—wrap them in plastic or put them in a sealed bag or container for up to a week. Chopped generally doesn’t last more than a day in the fridge, but you can eke out another two or so days if you cover it in olive oil. The truth is, though, leftover peeled garlic rarely needs to be stored, since adding a bit more garlic to whatever you’re cooking probably won’t hurt.

My kitchen is never without garlic. Practically every dish we make has a clove or two chopped up and thrown in. In fact, my fiancé and I are such garlic lovers that we almost always have a backup head tucked away in the pantry in case we run out. That means it’s crucial we store it right so it will be in peak condition when it’s time to use it.

How to Store a Whole Head of Garlic

Garlic can actually keep well for months; the key is to store it the right way. There are three important things to keep in mind when it comes to proper storage.

1. Keep the head whole.

Leaving the entire head (aka the bulb) of garlic whole and not breaking it apart is the best way to store fresh garlic. If kept this way, under the right conditions, the head will stay fresh for a few months.

Garlic’s life span begins to decrease once you break apart the head and take out the individual cloves. A broken head will keep for about three to 10 days, so make it a point to use it up first before breaking open a new head.

2. Think dry and dark.

Light and moisture are garlic’s worst enemies, as they both cause mold to grow. Instead, store garlic at room temperature in a dry, dark place that has plenty of air circulation, like in a wire-mesh basket or open paper bag in a cupboard or pantry.

3. Avoid the fridge.

When stored in a cold environment, like the refrigerator, garlic will begin to sprout in no more than a few days. While sprouted garlic is still edible, it can sometimes be a little bitter-tasting.

How to Store Peeled Garlic

If you’ve peeled or chopped too much garlic for a recipe, it’s OK to stick it in the fridge. Keep it sealed in an airtight container to prevent raw garlic smells wafting through the fridge, and try to use it up as soon as possible, within a day or so, to prevent sprouting and loss of flavor.

How to Handle a Surplus of Garlic

If you’re completely overrun with garlic and are worried it might go bad before you can get through it all, look to other means of preservation. Roasted garlic is extremely easy to make and keeps well refrigerated for up to two weeks or frozen for up to three months. Roasted garlic makes just about anything better, from hummus to salad dressing to a thick slice of crusty bread.

Or there’s garlic confit, which is garlic cloves that have been preserved in oil. The confit can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks, and both the cloves and the infused oil can be used in pasta dishes, sandwiches, sauces, soups, and much more.

How to store fresh garlic

Now that you have successfully grown and harvested your garlic, it is time to decide how to store your aromatic crop. The best way to store garlic depends on how you intend to use it. Continue reading to learn more about how to store fresh picked garlic from your garden, including garlic storage before planting more next year.

How to Store Garlic

There are a number of methods for storing garlic from the garden. Once harvested, you’ll need to decide how to store garlic based on your preferences and what you plan on doing with your crop.

Storing Garlic at Room Temperature

Spread some newspapers out in a location away from sunlight and in a cool, well-ventilated area. Allow the garlic to dry for at least two weeks, in a mesh bag or airy container, until the skins become paper like. This air-dry storage method preserves garlic for five to eight months.

How to Store Garlic by Freezing

Frozen garlic is perfect for soups and stews, and can be achieved one of three ways:

  • Chop garlic and wrap tightly in freezer wrap. Break or grate off as needed.
  • Leave garlic unpeeled and freeze, removing cloves as needed.
  • Freeze garlic by blending some garlic cloves with oil in a blender using two parts olive oil to one part garlic. Scrape out what is needed.

How to Store Fresh Picked Garlic by Drying

Garlic must be fresh, firm, and bruise-free to dry using heat. Separate and peel cloves and cut lengthwise. Dry cloves at 140 degrees F. (60 C.) for two hours and then at 130 degrees F. (54 C.) until dry. When garlic is crisp, it is ready.

You can make garlic powder from fresh, dried garlic by blending until fine. To make garlic salt, you can add four parts sea salt to one part garlic salt and blend for a few seconds.

Storing Garlic in Vinegar or Wine

Peeled cloves can be stored in vinegar and wine by submerging them and storing in the refrigerator. Use garlic as long as there is no mold growth or surface yeast in the wine or vinegar. Do not store on the counter, as mold will develop.

Garlic Storage Before Planting

If you want to keep some of your harvest for planting next season, just harvest as usual and store in a cool, dark, well-ventilated spot.

Now that you know how to store fresh picked garlic from the garden, you can decide the best way to store garlic based on your individual needs.

How to store fresh garlic

The Spruce / Randi Rhoades

  • Total Time: 4 hrs
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Thanks to its delicious taste and reputation as a healthy food, garlic (Allium sativum) is popular with gardeners.   But growing this relative of the onion takes a fair amount of space and patience. It is an unusual plant in the vegetable garden because you have to wait about 8 months after planting before you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor. But if you’ve grown it well and harvested and stored it properly, you can have fresh garlic all winter. In fact, this is one of the best vegetables for long-term storage.

How to store fresh garlic

When to Harvest Garlic

In general, garlic is ready for harvesting when the lower leaves start to brown.   The only way to be sure is to dig up a few bulbs to check their progress. If the cloves fill out the skins, it’s time to harvest.

Harvesting too soon will result in smaller cloves that don’t store well. However, leaving the bulbs in the ground too long causes the cloves to burst out of their skins, making them vulnerable to disease and shorter storage time. So timing is quite important when it comes to harvesting and storing garlic.

What You’ll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Garden fork
  • Knife or kitchen scissors
  • Mesh bag (optional)


  • Mature garlic plant


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The Spruce / Randi Rhoades

Prepare the Garlic for Harvest

With most root vegetables, including garlic, it can be difficult to know when harvest time has arrived because you can’t see their ripeness.   Most gardeners plant garlic in the fall and wait for the plants to sprout the following spring. When the leaves begin to turn yellow and dry, usually in June or July, harvest time is near.

Once the leaves on your garlic begin to decline, stop watering the plant. This is impossible if it rains on the plant, but do the best you can. A dry spell will help to cure the garlic in the ground.

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The Spruce / Randi Rhoades

Determine When the Time Is Right

Picking the right time to harvest garlic is something of an art form. But the experts from Seed Savers Exchange say the plant is ready after three or four leaves have died back but five or six green leaves remain. Avoid waiting too long because the cloves will begin to separate from the bulbs in the ground.

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The Spruce / Randi Rhoades

Dig Up the Bulbs

If possible, wait for the soil to dry. Garlic bulbs don’t easily pull out of the ground like onions do. While you may have planted a small clove, the mature bulb is now several inches deep with a strong root system. So always dig up your garlic. Never try to pull it out of the ground, as the stalks can break and separate from the bulbs.

A garden fork typically works better than a shovel for digging up garlic, though either tool will do. Loosen the soil, and gently dig up the garlic bulbs, taking care not to slice through them. (A sliced bulb can be used immediately, but it can’t be stored.) Then, shake off the remaining dirt by hand to separate the bulbs from the soil.

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The Spruce / Randi Rhoades

Cure the Garlic

Garlic should be cured or dried before storing it for later use. Start by brushing off any soil remnants clinging to the bulbs. Do not wash them off or get the bulbs wet. Leave the stalks and roots on the bulbs while they cure. Either bundle 8 to 10 garlic stems together, tie with twine, and hang bulb-side down in a cool, dark space, like a basement, or lay the garlic flat on a raised screen in a single layer. Allow the bulbs to cure for three to four weeks. Keep out of sunlight, as it can change the flavor of fresh garlic.

Once the tops and roots have dried, cut them off and clean the garlic by removing the outer papery skin. Be careful not to expose any of the cloves. Or you can leave the stalks and braid the garlic, if you’ve grown softneck varieties.

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The Spruce / Randi Rhoades

Store the Bulbs

Keep your garlic in a dark, cool place (32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit) where it will still get some air circulation. Braiding and hanging garlic is a good way to store it. However, don’t hang it in the kitchen where it will be exposed to light. You can also store garlic in a mesh bag.

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The Spruce / Randi Rhoades

Tips for Harvesting and Storing Garlic

Not all garlic varieties mature at the same time. Artichoke garlic generally matures first, followed by rocambole garlic. Then come other varieties, including purple stripes, porcelains, and silverskins.

Softneck varieties of garlic can be stored for six to eight months. Check periodically to make sure the garlic is not going soft or sprouting. Hardneck varieties might dry out, sprout, or go soft within three to four months. However, storing hardneck varieties right at freezing temperature sometimes helps them survive for up to seven months without deteriorating.

If you’re a seed saver, there is nothing easier than saving garlic seed cloves. Simply put aside a few of your largest, healthiest bulbs to plant next season. Don’t bother saving smaller bulbs, as planting them will result in small bulbs for your next harvest. Store bulbs for planting at room temperature with fairly high humidity, so they don’t dry out.

Keep those heads — and even single cloves — fresh with these tips.

How to store fresh garlic


Photo by: chengyuzheng/Getty Images

How to store fresh garlic

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Garlic is often thought of as an ingredient you can keep around indefinitely. Some people hang braids of garlic for months — and longer. But how should you store garlic to maximize its use, and how long is it good for?

One of the most commonly used ingredients, garlic helps to form the base of many dishes as a flavor builder. You can easily buy it in bulk for cost effectiveness, and luckily, with the right storage, it will last for a while. Here are some easy-to-follow tips for extending the life of your garlic, plus some added ideas for using up any surplus you may have on hand.

How to Store It

Garlic is typically sold by the head (also called the bulb). It’s best to store whole heads of garlic instead of breaking them apart into the cloves because the papery exterior will keep the cloves inside fresher for longer. When you have whole heads of garlic, store them in a wire basket or open paper bag so there is plenty of air circulation, then place the container in a dry, dark location, such as the back of your pantry or tucked under a cabinet on the counter. Sunlight of any kid will change the temperature and humidity in the environment, which will encourage most any kind of produce to ripen more quickly, helping it go bad sooner.

How Long Will It Last?

Properly stored, a whole head of garlic can last for up to six months. Unpeeled cloves can last for three to four weeks. If you have separated or peeled cloves of garlic, store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week. Any chopped/minced garlic you have should be used ASAP.

If you notice the cloves start to sprout, you can still use them, but get to them quickly. Cut the cloves in half and remove the germ. It’s yellow-ish white when young and sprouts a green shoot as it ages. If the clove itself is brown or the head softens, it should be discarded.

How to Use It

If you have a surplus of garlic, try roasting it! Cut 1/2-inch from the top of a whole head of garlic to expose the cloves, then drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees F until caramelized and tender, 45 to 55 minutes. Allow the garlic to cool slightly, then squeeze the cloves out of their papery skin. You can use roasted garlic in dressings, homemade hummus, or simply shmeared on bread.

Here are some favorite garlicky recipe ideas:

Learn to make minced garlic that lasts for one or more weeks using these handy storage methods.

There’s a reason store-bought, jarred garlic is so popular: The convenience of having minced garlic on hand at all times is hard to beat.

But, there’s also a reason people still opt for fresh, homemade minced garlic; it’s much more potent than the preserved stuff you get at the supermarket. So what’s the solution? Pre-mince and store your own garlic at home! Here you’ll learn how to safely prep and store homemade minced garlic.

How to Mince Garlic

Start with whole garlic cloves, either fresh or pre-peeled. For fresh, unpeeled garlic, you’ll need to break off the cloves from the head and peel each one. To learn how, read our step-by-step guide to peeling garlic.

Once the garlic cloves are peeled, it’s time to mince. For large quantities of garlic, a food processor or a blender is going to be your best bet. Process/blend your garlic cloves to your desired consistency (this could be anywhere from a fine paste to a chunky, minced consistency). Note: For Method #2, you will need to process your garlic with oil (the ratio is two parts oil to one part garlic).

For small quantities of garlic, mince as you normally would using either a knife, a garlic press, or even a Microplane grater.

How to Store and Preserve Minced Garlic

Method #1: Preserving Garlic in Jars With Oil

Store-bought minced garlic is often packed in oil and jarred, and this same storage method also works for homemade garlic. The oil protects the garlic from air, helping to preserve its flavor and color.

However, the USDA warns that there is a botulism risk associated with storing garlic in oil at room temperature and even in the refrigerator over longer periods of time: “Research performed by the University of Georgia confirmed that mixtures of garlic in oil stored at room temperature are at risk for the development of botulism. Garlic in oil should be made fresh and stored in the refrigerator at 40 degrees F or lower for no more than 7 days. It may be frozen for several months.”

Store-bought, pre-minced garlic in oil is treated with preservatives to prevent the development of harmful bacteria. So, keeping track of how long your garlic has been in the refrigerator or freezer is imperative when using this method at home.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • Minced garlic
  • An airtight container, either plastic or glass
  • Vegetable oil of your choice (we recommend olive or avocado)
  • Something to label the container with (masking tape and a marker will work)


  1. Add your minced garlic to a clean, airtight container (wide mouth mason jars are an excellent freezer-safe option).
  2. Top off with oil (choose an oil with neutral flavor like olive oil or avocado oil), until the garlic is completely covered, leaving ½-inch of headspace.
  3. Seal and label the containers with the date. Refrigerate for up to one week, or freeze and use within about three months.

Always use a clean, dry spoon to remove the garlic from the jar when you’re ready to use. This will prevent contamination and mold growth.

Method #2: Freezing Garlic in Portions

This method is preferred if you want to store your garlic in individual portions to add to your recipes as you go.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • 1 part whole, peeled garlic cloves
  • 2 parts oil (we recommend olive or avocado)
  • Food processor or blender
  • Measuring teaspoon
  • Baking sheet or ice cube tray
  • Freezer-safe bag
  • Marker (to label bag with the date)


  1. Add peeled garlic cloves and oil to a food processor or blender and pulse/blend until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
  2. Scoop out one teaspoon at a time of the garlic and oil mixture and add to either a baking sheet or an ice cube tray.
  3. Flash freeze the garlic by placing the baking sheet or ice cube tray in the freezer for several hours, or until frozen solid.
  4. Transfer the garlic chunks to a freezer-safe storage bag, label with the date, and store for up to three months.

When you’re ready to use your garlic, simply add it to your dishes straight from frozen.

How to store fresh garlic

Spells of warm, sunny weather make it a good year for garlic and in July it starts to become ready to harvest. Follow these simple steps to get the best crop of garlic.

Garlic planted in autumn is ready to harvest from the end of June. Garlic planted in spring is ready to harvest in July, August and September.

The time to harvest garlic is when the leaves start to turn yellow. The leaves will weaken and start to fall as well as going yellow, so you know they are ready to harvest.

Lift the garlic bulbs from the soil as soon as the leaves wither, so that the plant doesn’t put on any secondary growth, which could weaken the bulb.

Take care that you don’t break the skin of the bulbs when you lift them from the soil or they might not keep for as long. Use any damaged bulbs first so they don’t have the chance to rot in storage.

Lay out the harvested bulbs on trays and keep them somewhere warm, dry and well-lit. In a greenhouse or a conservatory will be ideal.

Once the soil on the bulbs has dried, brush it off and keep the bulbs in a cool, dry unheated place indoors, at an ideal of temperature of 10C.

A new crop of garlic can be planted in autumn – How to plant garlic

Sprinkle grit along the rows before you plant and mix it into the soil with a trowel before planting the cloves, to further help drainage.

Plant garlic along rows spaced 30cm apart so that there is lots of room to hoe around the plants easily in spring and summer. If weeds are allowed to grow unchecked around your garlic plants, yield is likely to be poor.

Plant garlic cloves with the pointy end facing up and the flat end at the bottom. Plant garlic just below the soil surface so the very tip of the clove is just covered, and space each clove 15cm apart along the rows.

Label each row and give an initial watering if soil is dry. Put up some bird scarers around the planting site to protect young shoots from being pecked at.

For more crops to grow in the garden this summer, click here.