How To Preserve Garlic for Best Storage and Reduced Waste
Learning how to preserve garlic isn’t difficult or time-consuming. And it will save some money if your garlic has a tendency to go bad because you don’t use it up quickly enough. Whether you bought garlic or grew your own, it’s a waste to toss it out!
Garlic keeps up to nine months under proper storage conditions. However, if you don’t have the ideal space to keep it, your garlic will get soft, sprout, or dry out. Keep reading for more information to help you preserve garlic for longer storage life.
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How To Preserve Garlic In A Root Cellar
After harvest, allow your garlic to cure for a week or two in a dry, airy spot, out of direct sunlight. Brush off any dirt and trim roots back. Hang garlic (braiding is optional) or trim stems and store in a shallow layer in an open crate. Ideal storage temperature is 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity should be in the 50 to 60% range. Softneck garlic stores well for up to 9 months and hardneck (such as Elephant garlic) keeps up to 6 months under these conditions.
Read ‘How to Harvest and Store Rood Crops’ for information on root cellar storage.
Storage Tip – Use a garlic keeper to store your garlic on the counter or in your pantry. The ceramic crock will allow your garlic to ‘breathe’ and will keep it cool and dark. Do not store your garlic in the refrigerator or in a plastic bag or plastic container, this will hold in moisture and may lead to mold or rot.
The Easiest Way to Preserve Garlic…Freeze It!
Freezing garlic is pretty much the easiest way to keep it from sprouting or drying up if you don’t have ideal storage space. It won’t be as crisp as fresh garlic, but the flavor will be fine. There are several ways to prepare garlic for freezing.
An easy way to freeze garlic is as simple as placing a whole bulb of garlic into an airtight container and popping it in the freezer. You don’t even have to peel it. Easy!
Want to simplify the prep time when you’re ready to use the frozen cloves? Peel the papery skins off before you place them in the freezer. Still easy!
Freezer Tip – If you are using plastic freezer bags, double or triple up to help prevent the odor from escaping. (This is the one time that using plastic bags for storing your garlic is appropriate.)
What About Storing Garlic in Oil?
Maybe you’d like to take a little extra time and freeze your garlic in oil. Place whole, chopped, or minced cloves in a freezer-safe container and cover with olive oil, stir to coat the garlic, seal, place in the freezer.
When you’re ready for some garlicky goodness…just grab the container, scoop out what you need, and place the rest back in the freezer. Store garlic in oil for several months in the freezer. (The oil gets somewhat hard in the freezer, so you may want to use the mincing option, below, for easier scooping.)
Tip: Scoop garlic and oil into ice cube trays and place in the freezer. When it’s solid, pop out of trays and store in freezer bags. This way, when you are cooking you’ll be able to grab a cube or two and toss in your pan!
Minced Garlic in Oil
For an even easier to use solution, mince the garlic before covering in oil and freezing. Warm a metal spoon to help scoop the minced garlic and oil from its container. Once thawed, the garlic-flavored oil is great for dipping your homemade bread, or use it in homemade oil and vinegar dressing, and also replace vegetable oil in recipes with garlic oil to give the finished product extra flavor!
But Wait, Is Garlic in Oil Safe to Eat?
Maybe you’ve read some old timer’s advice about storing garlic in a jar of oil on your counter? Never store garlic in oil on the counter!
Garlic stored in vegetable oil must be stored at cold temperatures to remain safe for human consumption. Refrigerate at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for up to 4 days, or place your garlic and oil combo in the freezer.
Placing garlic in vegetable oil and leaving it at room temperatures provides conditions for Clostridium botulinum to thrive and cause serious illness. If you suspect that you, or someone else, has consumed botulism toxins, seek medical attention immediately. Left untreated, botulism poisoning can be fatal.
For more information about killing botulism, check out this Extension office post.
Dehydrate Garlic for Long Term Storage
If you have a lot of garlic and you want to keep it long term, the best method for preserving it is by dehydrating to remove the moisture. Here’s how:
- Peel garlic and brush off any dirt or debris
- Slice garlic very thin
- Arrange in a dehydrator with some space between slices
- Use a mesh covering on the tray if you have one
- Set dehydrator to 115 degrees Fahrenheit
- Dry until all of the garlic slices are crispy and break easily
- Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry spot out of sunlight
- Vacuum seal dehydrated garlic for even longer storage
How To Use Dehydrated Garlic
- Drop a few slices into soups, stews, or chili
- Rehydrate in water until soft (10- 20 minutes), mince and use in place of fresh garlic
- Run through a food processor for powdered garlic
DIY Garlic Salt
Blend powdered garlic with salt to make your own garlic salt. Try a blend of half salt and half garlic, or increase the salt if you wish. Place garlic salt in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry spot out of direct sunlight.
Dried Garlic Storage Tip – Very dry garlic may be placed in a mylar food storage bag with an oxygen absorber for the longest storage life.
Another easy way to preserve your garlic is by pickling. Garlic pickles may be stored in the refrigerator for shorter periods or you may can them for really long term preservation. Here is a quick and easy refrigerator garlic pickle recipe that will wake up your taste buds!
Sweet Hot Garlic Refrigerator Pickles
- 2 cups distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 – 3 dozen garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tsp to 1 Tbsp crushed red pepper (to taste)
- 1 tsp non-iodized salt
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
In a medium saucepan, stir together vinegar, sugar, and spices. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Add garlic cloves. Return to a boil. Boil for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat.
Cool slightly. Scoop garlic into a sterile container. Pour enough pickling liquid into container to cover the garlic. Seal tightly and store in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks before using. These zesty pickles are quite spicy! Use as a pickle, or mince and use in recipes where you’d like to add some garlic and spice.
Recipe Variation – If you have fresh hot peppers, you may slice them and add to pickling liquid along with garlic and omit the crushed red pepper.
Try Some of Each!
If you have a lot of garlic, try preserving some with each of these methods. You’ll have a variety of different ways to use your garlic! There are some delicious sounding recipes out there for canning garlic pickles and they would make excellent gifts for your friends and family.
What is your favorite way of preserving garlic?
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In addition to writing for her own websites, Lisa has contributed articles to The Prepper Project and Homestead.org.
The author lives outside of Chicago with her husband, son, 2 dogs, 1 cat, and a variety of poultry.
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