Garlic is a countertop staple that so many home cooks rely on. But what happens when this incredible ingredient goes bad?
How long can garlic stay fresh, and how will you tell when it goes bad? Keep on reading to find out!
How Long Can Garlic Stay Fresh For?
Whole garlic bulbs endure better in time when kept in the right conditions and at room temperature. How long? Usually between three and six months.
When divided into cloves or torn, garlic degrades quickly and lasts only for a couple of weeks.
If stored properly, whole bulbs can stay fresh for three to six months when at room temperature. They shouldn’t be refrigerated but can be frozen if rolled up in cling film or aluminum foil and put in an airtight container.
They can be stored in this manner for up to one year, but they won’t stay as consistent and flavorful as time goes by.
When stored properly in your kitchen cupboard, cloves that have not been peeled and broken can stay fresh for one to three weeks.
When the garlic clove is cracked or peeled, it degrades quickly and can only be used for about a day when left at room temperature. If refrigerated, a peeled clove can be used for up to a week.
If you slice or smash extra garlic and want to save it for another day, keep it in the refrigerator.
Once stored properly, crushed, sliced, or thick-cut garlic pieces can last for a week, even ten days when refrigerated. You can even keep it in the freezer for up to a year!
Keeping the garlic pieces in the freezer for that long will keep them fresh, but the delicious flavors you seek and hope to preserve will be lost.
Cut Garlic / Garlic Mince From A Jar
Store-bought garlic that’s been cut or minced and sold in a jar is typically kept in oil or pickled in vinegar. When stored in the fridge, it ought to keep for a couple of months, but always check the expiry date.
How Can You Tell If Garlic Has Gone Bad?
It seems to be easy to forget about cloves of garlic in a hidden corner of your kitchen cupboard, just to find them on rare occasions when you are rearranging your kitchen things.
Fortunately, it’s simple to understand when garlic has gone bad and should be thrown away.
All garlic bulbs are composed of many cloves, with each one of them being a flavored capsule in its own right.
When you cut or crush a clove, the flavoring composite called allicin begins to degrade.
Because allicin is a quickly evaporating substance, meals that include garlic as an ingredient capture its aromas and taste the most on the day they are cooked.
Below are a few quick ways to check whether garlic is still fresh:
Lightly Squeeze The Clove
Fresh, uncooked garlic is never soft. When your cloves or bulbs are softened and squishy, that means they have already gone bad. The best thing you can do in this case is throw them away and use other cloves that are firm.
Examine The Hue Of The Garlic When You Peel It
Garlic must be white in color. If it appears yellow in color or has brown dots on its exterior, that means it has mold and/or is on its way to developing mold. At this point, it will start developing a “burning” flavor.
Take A Good Sniff
The unique strong-smelling odor must be well known to you. If the odor is beginning to disappear or the garlic emits a rancid, offensive smell, it needs to be discarded.
Trust The Expiration Date
If you’ve bought chopped or pureed cloves in a bottle, then the expiration date on the bottle is the best indicator of when your garlic’s gone or will go bad.
However, smelling the insides of the bottle and examining it for rotten smells is, of course, another way to test it.
Is Sprouted Garlic Spoiled?
If you notice green sprouts springing up from your garlic bulbs or starting to form on the inside of a garlic clove, this means your garlic is going bad.
Even though eating garlic once you’ve removed those green sprouts might be safe, (given, of course, that there aren’t any other signs it’s rotten), it will probably leave a bitter aftertaste in your mouth.
However, do not throw it away. If your garlic cloves taste bitter but are not rotten, you can still use them in a broth or homemade stock.
Can You Feel Ill If You Eat Spoiled Garlic?
As we previously mentioned, garlic bulbs or cloves where green sprouts emerge but beyond that appear healthy are safe for consumption.
All you have to do is remove the sprouts and proceed as usual, although you might sense a stronger aftertaste.
Consuming rotten garlic may upset your stomach, and yet there seems to be a bigger danger lurking in an innocent clove that you should be conscious of.
You might be stunned to find out that eating garlic kept in oil can end up causing botulism, a type of foodborne illness.
Botulism is incited by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum bacteria, which is observed in certain soil types in the U.S.
This bacterium produces non-active microbes that can grow in the correct environment. When these microbes are absorbed by a living organism like ours, they can result in severe illness.
Foods with low acidic content, such as garlic, are ideal for developing botulism-generating microbes, as are condensation, room temperature, and the lack of oxygen that occurs when garlic is immersed in olive oil.
With regards to botulism, such spores are undetectable, which means that minced garlic can have this growing bacterium without it affecting how it looks, smells, and tastes.
So, when you keep garlic in oil, especially when that’s a homemade process, it can turn out to be harmful to your health.
To ramp up the acid content and minimize the risk of botulism, bottled garlic which is mass manufactured in factories and special facilities is specially processed.
Top tip: If you want to make sure that botulism-inducing bacteria are not alive, you should keep your cloves frozen and not refrigerated. The chilly temperature of the freezer can kill them, but not the cold in the fridge.
Even though botulism is pretty uncommon, the ailment is so severe that it isn’t worth the gamble. Drowsiness and vision problems are common symptoms.
You might very well have difficulty trying to gulp down or speak, and you could become paralyzed and struggle to keep breathing.
To avoid any potential dangers, do not preserve your garlic inside bottles containing oil or keep them at room temperature. If you use garlic infused with oil, eat it right away.
How To Store And Use Garlic
Whole garlic bulbs should be kept in dark, dry, cool places with good air circulation. The perfect temperature level for storing garlic is somewhere around 60° Fahrenheit, with mild moisture in the air.
The ideal method for storing garlic bulbs is in a swinging weave or threaded bowl or pouch, which allows for fine air circulation, which is necessary to keep your garlic fresher. Alternatively, paper bags may also be used.
Plastic materials and sealable packaging are not suitable for room temperature storage because they promote the emergence of sprouts and cause your garlic to spoil faster.
Placing whole bulbs and whole cloves in the refrigerator will not prolong their life. The fridge will actually simply hasten the rotting process and facilitate garlic sprouting.
Experts do still disagree on the topic of freezing garlic, though. Even though freezing whole or chopped garlic means you can preserve its freshness for much longer, it will nonetheless change the taste and texture.
Peeled cloves and sliced or finely diced garlic, on the other hand, spoil quickly if not refrigerated. They should be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container, but ideally consumed within 24 to 48 hours.
If you are in the grocery store looking for the best garlic to buy, go for the one that feels the firmest. In addition to that, make sure that the ones you choose do not have any sprouts on them.
Another thing you need to be aware of is that garlic begins to dry out as it matures, so try to look for the ones that look nicer and tighter.
You should also try not to get the ones whose cloves are spread apart from one another; gaps are not a good sign for fresh garlic.
Finally, if you buy a garlic bulb and see that one of its cloves starts to go bad, immediately remove it as its rotting process will affect the other cloves next to it.
The Bottom Line
Now you know the answer. Garlic can indeed go bad, but there are some storing methods that can keep it fresh for longer.
Knowing how to buy fresh garlic is also important so that it won’t go bad after a day or two of buying it. So, follow our advice and you’ll keep your garlic fresh for a long time!
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