How long can you store garlic?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “How long can you store garlic?”, discuss answers to other related questions like how to store garlic to increase its shelf life and how to tell if garlic has gone bad.

How long can you store garlic?

A properly stored whole bulb of garlic can last up to 3-5 months in the pantry. Once the bulb is broken, you can expect the quality of your garlic to decrease rather quickly. Individual unpeeled garlic cloves can last for 7-10 days in the pantry.

Peeled and chopped garlic or frozen cooked garlic usually stay good for about a week in the refrigerator and 10-12 months in the freezer. While a prepared jar of chopped or minced garlic can last up to three months in the fridge.

How to store garlic to increase its shelf life?

Garlic has a relatively longer shelf life as compared to other vegetables but the maintenance of garlic for the long term needs to be accompanied by the proper storage conditions.

The best way to store garlic is to store it as a whole in an open container. This container should be placed at a somewhat cool temperature away from the heat where there is accurate air circulation. It is recommended not to store garlic in the refrigerator, as the refrigeration temperature causes the garlic to sprout.

Try to store garlic as a whole because when one of the cloves of garlic is taken out, its shelf life starts decreasing.

Short term storage

For short-term garlic storage, pack the garlic in a brown paper bag instead of a plastic bag to avoid the chances of humidity. This will help to keep the taste and freshness of garlic for up to 4 to 6 months.

If you are going to refrigerate an individual unpeeled clove of garlic, it can be stored for 10 days. For peeled garlic cloves, store them in a plastic bag for up to 1 to 2 days.

Long term storage

For long-term storage of garlic, you can go for freezing them. Unpeeled, whole garlic (Garlic bulb as a whole) can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 year.

If you want to store peeled and chopped garlic, pack it in the freezer bag and store it in the freezer for up to 1 year.

Can garlic go bad?

Garlic holds a long shelf life but still, it can go bad. So, you can say that it depends on the length of time, the conditions under which you stored the garlic, and the state of garlic to decide either you can use that in your recipe or it has gone bad enough to dispose of.

How to tell if garlic has gone bad?

Fresh garlic has a characteristic smell and taste, but once it is spoiled or rotten, you can know this by:

Spots on the surface

If the garlic has gone bad, it will develop some brown spots on the surface of its cloves. Also, the color at this stage will be changed from particular off-white to a yellowish tan.

Sprouts formation

When the garlic goes bad, there is some expansion of green roots in the center of the garlic cloves. These roots are actually the sprouts that taste bitter. These sprouts should be removed from the center of the cloves but they leave a milder flavor behind.

Squeeze test

The best way to determine if the garlic has gone bad or not is a squeeze test. On squeezing, if the head gets soft or malleable due to pressure, then this is the clear indication of the fact the garlic has gone bad.

What can happen if you eat bad garlic?

Consumption of bad garlic can cause you to be the victim of botulism. Chances of foodborne botulism are extremely rare but can be serious and potentially fatal.

Bacteria that cause botulism, known as Clostridium botulinum, normally form inactive spores that can be found in low-acid vegetables like garlic. Certain conditions like low acidity, lack of oxygen, moisture, and temperature can cause these spores to become active and cause the development of botulism. These conditions of low acidity might be provided by garlic, if they are not stored properly, causing the toxic spores to become active.

The disease, botulism, affects the nerves connected to the eyes, mouth, face, and throat. Symptoms of botulism caused by improperly stored garlic include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, double vision, difficulty in swallowing, and difficulty in breathing. These symptoms can be fatal. So, if you consume spoiled garlic and experience any of these symptoms, seek medical assistance immediately.


In this brief guide, we answered the question “How long can you store garlic?”, discussed answers to other related questions like how to store garlic to increase its shelf life and how to tell if garlic has gone bad.


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