How to Store Garlic to Keep It Fresher for Longer

Garlic is a prominent ingredient in many kitchens because of its distinct flavor and many health benefits. However, improper storage can lead to garlic losing its flavor and potency or even spoiling prematurely. In this article, we’ll explore effective garlic storage tips to help you preserve its freshness and flavor for longer periods.

The Importance of Proper Garlic Storage

Garlic isn’t just a flavorful addition to dishes; it’s also packed with health benefits, including antibacterial and antiviral properties. However, to harness its full potential, proper storage is essential. Here’s why:

Garlic is sensitive to moisture, light, and temperature fluctuations. Storing it incorrectly can lead to premature sprouting, loss of flavor, and even mold growth. The natural oils in the bulbs might evaporate in warm weather or intense sunlight, leaving the cloves stale and dry.

Garlic may keep its freshness and flavor for several months in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated space, such as a pantry or kitchen cabinet. The ideal storage conditions help preserve the bulbs’ natural oils and prevent them from sprouting or spoiling prematurely.

Garlic can be kept fresher for longer by storing it properly, which also helps it to maintain its flavor and nutritional content, which improves the flavor and scent of your food. Whether you’re using garlic as a seasoning, a medicinal remedy, or a flavor enhancer, storing it correctly is crucial for optimal results.

Key Takeaway: Garlic can have a longer shelf life and retain more flavor and nutritional value if kept out of direct sunlight and in a cool, dry environment.

Best Practices for Storing Whole Garlic

Whole garlic bulbs are the starting point for many delicious dishes; proper storage is key to keeping them fresh and flavorful. Here are some best practices to ensure your garlic stays in prime condition:

  • Choose the Right Location: Store garlic in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area. A pantry or kitchen cabinet is ideal if it’s away from direct sunlight and moisture.
  • Avoid Refrigeration: While the refrigerator might seem logical to store garlic, it’s not the best option. The cold, humid environment can cause garlic to sprout and lose its flavor.
  • Keep Garlic Intact: Store garlic bulbs whole, as breaking them apart can shorten their shelf life. Leave the papery skins intact until you’re ready to use the cloves.
  • Use Proper Containers: Opt for mesh bags, wire baskets, or open containers that allow air circulation. Garlic should not be kept in sealed plastic bags or airtight containers as they might retain moisture and encourage mold formation.
  • Monitor Temperature and Humidity: Aim for a temperature between 60-65°F (15-18°C) with moderate humidity. Excessive heat or moisture can cause garlic to spoil, while too much cold can encourage sprouting.
  • Check for Sprouting: Inspect your garlic bulbs for signs of sprouting or softness. If any cloves have started to sprout, remove them to stop the spoiling from spreading.
  • Rotate Stock: Use older garlic bulbs first to ensure freshness. Rotate your garlic stock regularly to prevent bulbs from languishing unused for too long.

Key Takeaway: Whole garlic bulbs can retain their freshness and flavor for a longer amount of time if they are stored properly, keeping them out of the sun and moisture and in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated space.

Creative Ways to Store Peeled or Chopped Garlic

While fresh garlic bulbs are a kitchen staple, peeled or chopped garlic can be convenient for quick cooking. However, keeping it fresh requires proper storage techniques. Here are some creative ways to store peeled or chopped garlic:

  • Garlic in Oil: Submerge peeled garlic cloves in olive or neutral oil in a clean, airtight container. This keeps the garlic moist and infuses the oil with flavor, which can be used in cooking.
  • Frozen Garlic Cubes: Chop or mince garlic cloves and portion them into ice cube trays. Freeze after adding water or olive oil to each compartment. After freezing, place the frozen garlic cubes in a freezer bag that can be sealed. These garlic cubes can be easily popped out and added to cooking dishes.
  • Dehydrated Garlic: Slice peeled garlic cloves thinly and spread them out on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in an oven to the lowest temperature, or use a dehydrator. Once completely dried, store the dehydrated garlic in an airtight container. Rehydrate the slices by soaking them in water or oil before use.
  • Garlic Paste: Blend peeled garlic cloves with a small amount of oil until smooth. To keep the garlic paste from oxidizing, store it in a jar that has been cleaned and lightly coated with oil. Use it in recipes as needed and keep it chilled.
  • Garlic Salt: Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and toss with the equally minced garlic. Allow it to dry in a warm place or the oven on low heat. Once dried, store the garlic salt in an airtight container for seasoning dishes. 

Key Takeaway: These creative methods of storing peeled or chopped garlic prolong its freshness and make it more convenient to incorporate into your cooking routine.

Avoiding Common Mistakes in Garlic Storage

Garlic’s flavor and freshness can only be preserved through proper storage. Your garlic will stay in excellent condition for longer if you avoid frequent blunders. Here are some pitfalls to avoid:

Mistake Description Solution
Storing in the Refrigerator The cold, humid environment of the refrigerator can cause garlic to sprout and lose its flavor. Garlic should be kept in a pantry or kitchen cabinet that is cool, dry, and shielded from sunlight and moisture.
Storing in Plastic Bags Moisture can be trapped by plastic bags, causing mold growth and spoiling. Use mesh bags, wire baskets, or open containers that allow air circulation to store garlic.
Keeping Garlic Cloves Attached Breaking the bulbs exposes the cloves to air and moisture, accelerating spoilage. Leave garlic bulbs intact until ready to use, as the papery skins help protect the cloves from moisture loss.
Exposing Garlic to Sunlight Direct sunlight can cause garlic to sprout and degrade its flavor. Store garlic in a dark place away from sunlight, such as a pantry or kitchen cabinet.
Storing Garlic near Heat Sources Heat can cause garlic to dry out and lose its flavor. Keep garlic away from heat sources such as stoves, ovens, or sunlight.

 Key Takeaway: You can increase your garlic’s shelf life and ensure it stays fresh and flavorful for your culinary creations by avoiding these frequent blunders and using the right procedures when storing it.

Reviving and Repurposing Garlic

Even if your garlic has started to sprout or lose its firmness, there are ways to salvage and repurpose it creatively. Here are some tips for reviving and repurposing garlic:

  • Reviving Sprouted Garlic:
    1. Trim off the sprouts and any green shoots from the garlic cloves.
    2. Soak the garlic cloves in cold water for a few hours to help rehydrate them.
    3. Use the revived garlic in recipes where the sprouting, such as soups, stews, or roasted dishes, won’t affect the flavor.
  • Making Garlic Infused Oil:
    1. Peel and crush garlic cloves and place them in a clean, dry jar.
    2. Cover the garlic with olive oil, submerging all the cloves.
    3. Let the garlic infuse in the oil several days a week, then strain out the garlic.
    4. Use the garlic-infused oil for cooking or as a flavorful drizzle for salads and bread.
  • Creating Garlic Powder:
    1. Peel and thinly slice garlic cloves.
    2. Dry the slices in a food dehydrator or a low oven until completely dehydrated.
    3. Finely ground the dried garlic pieces using a spice grinder, mortar, and pestle.
    4. Garlic powder should be kept in an airtight container and used as a seasoning in your favorite recipes.
  • Making Garlic Paste:
    1. Peel garlic cloves and crush them into a paste using a garlic press or mortar and pestle.
    2. Mix the garlic paste with a small amount of salt and store it in a clean jar.
    3. Use the garlic paste as a convenient flavoring agent in marinades, sauces, and dressings.
  • Pickling Garlic:
    1. Peel garlic cloves and place them in a sterilized jar.
    2. Prepare a brine solution with vinegar, water, salt, and spices such as peppercorns or herbs.
    3. Pour the brine over the garlic cloves, fully submerging them.
    4. Leave the jar closed and at room temperature for a few days to enable the flavors to meld.
    5. Use pickled garlic as a tangy addition to salads, sandwiches, or antipasto platters.

Key Takeaway: With a little creativity and resourcefulness, you can revive and repurpose aging garlic to minimize waste and maximize flavor in your cooking. From infusing oil to making powder or pickling, there are plenty of ways to give new life to old garlic.


Can I store garlic in the refrigerator?

It is not advisable to store garlic in the refrigerator since it may lead to the cloves becoming moldy or sprouting too soon. The cold, humid environment of the refrigerator can encourage moisture buildup, leading to spoilage. It’s best to store garlic in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight, such as a pantry or kitchen cabinet.

How long does garlic last once it’s been chopped or minced?

Chopped or minced garlic has a shorter shelf life than whole garlic bulbs. Once garlic has been chopped or minced, it should be used within a few days to maintain its freshness and flavor. To prolong its shelf life, store chopped garlic in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use it within the recommended timeframe.

Is storing garlic in oil safe?

Storing garlic in oil can pose a food safety risk if not done properly. Garlic-in-oil mixtures create an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment that can promote the growth of Clostridium botulinum. This bacteria can cause botulism, a serious case of food poisoning, through its toxins. If you decide to preserve your garlic in oil, utilize it within a week and throw away any leftovers. Garlic must always be kept chilled. Alternatively, you can freeze garlic in oil in small portions for longer-term storage.


Garlic is a versatile and indispensable item that you can keep in your cooking arsenal by extending its freshness and flavor with the correct preservation strategies. Following the tips outlined in this article, you’ll be well-equipped to store garlic effectively and enjoy its savory goodness in your favorite dishes for months.