Garlic is considered an herb, but it's actually a strong-flavored bulb, cousin to onions. It is used in many ways in the kitchen and often for medicinal purposes. Fresh garlic heads can be found at the local market or in your garden. You can make purchased or grown garlic last longer by storing it correctly with the help of this article.
Method 1 of 2: Fresh Garlic
Step 1. Buy or harvest fresh, firm garlic
This is important because it lasts longer.
- The garlic should be firm, with the skin looking like dry paper, and it should not have sprouted. Soft bulbs indicate that it has matured too much and will not be able to be stored for long.
- Avoid withered bulbs or those in the refrigerated section of the supermarket.
Step 2. Dry your home-grown garlic before storing it
Doing this allows the flavor to sharpen and become more concentrated.
- Wash the freshly picked garlic bulb and let it dry in a dark, dry place for approximately a week.
- You can hang the garlic by the stalk to dry.
Step 3. Store at room temperature
Many people make the mistake of storing it in the fridge, but it works best at a room temperature of around 16°C.
- Refrigeration causes garlic to deteriorate because of moisture and this can cause it to mold.
- If you have minced or crushed fresh garlic, you can store it in the refrigerator in a closed container for a short time, but use it as soon as possible.
- Freezing is not recommended as it changes consistency and flavor.
Step 4. Keep the garlic in a place with good air circulation
Store the garlic heads in a well-ventilated place to allow it to "breathe" and extend its shelf life.
- Garlic heads can be kept in a plastic or metal mesh basket in a small bowl with holes for ventilation or even in a paper bag.
- Do not store fresh garlic heads in a bag or plastic container. This can cause mold and germination.
Step 5. Keep the garlic heads cool in a dark, dry place
The kitchen cabinet or some shaded corner of the counter is perfect.
Keep away from sunlight and moisture to prevent germination
Step 6. Use it right after you split the garlic head
Shelf life is reduced when you open the head to take out the garlic cloves.
- If it starts to go limp or has green shoots germinating on its teeth, it's time to throw it away.
- Whole heads can be kept for up to 8 weeks if stored properly. Separated teeth can be stored for three to 10 days.
Step 7. Garlic harvested at the beginning of the season needs different care and must be refrigerated soon after being harvested
- It has a milder flavor, doesn't need to be dried and lasts up to a week in the fridge.
- Can be used in place of onions and leeks in the kitchen.
Method 2 of 2: Conservation Techniques
Step 1. Freeze
While some people are opposed to freezing because it is believed to alter texture and flavor, it can be a good option for those who use it infrequently or for people who have bought too much and don't want to throw anything away. You can freeze garlic in two ways:
- Freeze whole and shelled teeth by wrapping them in plastic wrap or aluminum foil or placing them in a freezer bag. When using, just remove from the packaging as many teeth as you want.
- If you prefer, you can peel the teeth, chop them or grind them before freezing. If the pieces stick together when they freeze you can grate as much as you need.
Step 2. Store in oil
There has been some controversy about this method, as canning garlic at room temperature has been associated with the growth of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which can cause a fatal disease known as botulism. However, if the preserve is stored in the freezer, the risk of developing these bacteria is eliminated. To safely store garlic in oil:
- You can peel the teeth and leave them completely covered in oil in a glass or plastic pot. Close the container tightly and place in the freezer. Use a spoon to remove the garlic as needed.
- If you prefer, prepare a garlic and olive oil puree, mixing one part garlic and two part olive oil in a blender or food processor. Transfer the puree to a container that can be taken to the freezer with a tight-fitting lid. This method is very convenient for cooks, as oil prevents freezing; then just use a spoon to remove the necessary amount and take it directly to the pan.
Step 3. Store in wine or vinegar
Peeled garlic cloves can be preserved in wine or vinegar and stored in the refrigerator for up to four months. You can use red or dry white wine or white wine vinegar. To do this, fill a glass jar with peeled garlic cloves and fill the available space with your chosen wine or vinegar. Seal the bottle tightly and place in the refrigerator.
- To make your preserves more flavorful, you can add a tablespoon of salt (per cup of liquid) along with dried herbs such as red pepper flakes, oregano, rosemary or bay leaves. Shake the bottle well to mix the contents.
- Although pickled garlic should last up to four months in the refrigerator, you should discard the contents of the jar if you notice any signs of mold on the liquid's surface. Never store pickled garlic at room temperature as this leads to rapid mold formation.
Step 4. Dehydrate
Another easy way to preserve garlic is to dehydrate it. It will become more compact, so a large amount of it will take up very little space in the pantry. When used in recipes, dried garlic will absorb water and add great flavor to your dish. You can dry the garlic with or without a food dehydrator.
- Dry peeled and halved garlic cloves lengthwise in the food dehydrator. Choose only teeth that are fleshy and free from bruises. Place them in the dehydrator tray and follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding temperature. Dried garlic becomes crunchy and crumbly.
- If you don't have a food dehydrator you can do the same thing in the oven. Place the halved garlic cloves on a baking sheet and bake at 60 °C for two hours. Then lower the temperature to 55 °C and continue roasting until the garlic is completely dry.
Step 5. Make garlic salt
You can use dried garlic to make garlic salt, which gives a subtle and delicious flavor to recipes. Simply beat dry garlic in a food processor until it forms a fine powder. Add four parts sea salt to one part garlic and process for a minute or two to mix.
- Don't beat for more than two minutes or the two will start to coalesce.
- Store garlic salt in a glass jar with a tightly closed lid and store in a cool, dark kitchen cabinet.