How do you store garlic cloves for a long time?

Garlic is a versatile and flavorful ingredient used in many savory dishes. However, fresh garlic cloves don’t last very long before going bad. Follow these tips to properly store garlic cloves and make them last for months.

How long do garlic cloves last at room temperature?

Fresh, unpeeled garlic cloves will only last about a week at room temperature before drying out or sprouting. Once separated and peeled, individual garlic cloves will only last about 4-5 days before drying out or developing mold.

What causes garlic cloves to go bad quickly?

There are a few factors that cause garlic cloves to deteriorate quickly:

  • Exposure to air causes garlic cloves to dry out.
  • Heat and light encourage sprouting.
  • Moisture promotes mold growth.
  • Peeled cloves lose protective skin and deteriorate faster.

How to store garlic cloves short-term?

For short-term storage of a week or two, store bulbs of unpeeled garlic in a cool, dry, dark place with plenty of air circulation. Do not refrigerate unpeeled garlic, as the cold temperature may cause condensation and spoilage. Keep garlic away from sunlight to prevent sprouting.

For peeled cloves, place them in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Make sure the container allows for some air circulation and that cloves are dry before storing.

What’s the best way to store garlic long-term?

For long-term garlic storage, the key is controlling temperature, humidity, and airflow. Here are some of the best methods:

Freeze peeled garlic cloves

Freezing is one of the simplest long-term methods. Peel and finely chop or puree cloves, then transfer to ice cube trays or freezer bags. Frozen garlic keeps for up to 3 months. Thaw cubes before using.

Store in oil

Submerging peeled cloves in oil helps prevent them from drying out. Use olive or vegetable oil and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

Pickle garlic cloves

Pickling in an acidic liquid like vinegar or lemon juice keeps garlic fresh for 6 months or longer. Refrigerate pickling liquid and cloves.

Dry or dehydrate garlic

Drying garlic removes moisture to prevent spoilage. Use a food dehydrator or oven on low heat until cloves are dried. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

Store in wine or vinegar

The acidic environment helps extend shelf life. Submerge peeled cloves in wine or vinegar and refrigerate for 3-6 months.

What are the best containers for storing garlic?

The best containers for storing garlic include:

  • Airtight glass jars or plastic containers
  • Freezer-safe zipper bags
  • Small jars or vials for oil storage
  • Cheesecloth or mesh bags for hanging dried garlic

Avoid storing garlic in metal containers, as this may cause faster deterioration. Make sure containers are thoroughly cleaned and dried before use.

What are the signs of garlic going bad?

Check garlic bulbs or cloves for these signs of spoilage:

  • Visible mold
  • Shriveled, mushy texture
  • Brownish discoloration
  • Strong, foul odor
  • Green sprouts emerging from bulbs
  • Slimy, wet appearance

If you notice any of these, it’s best to throw out the spoiled garlic to avoid getting sick from eating moldy cloves.

Can you freeze whole garlic bulbs?

Freezing unpeeled garlic bulbs is not recommended. The low temperature can cause condensation between the cloves and paper-like skin, leading to mold growth. It’s best to peel cloves first before freezing.

How do you prep garlic for long-term storage?

Follow these tips when preparing garlic for long-term storage:

  • Select fresh, firm bulbs and avoid moldy or sprouted ones.
  • Break bulbs into individual cloves, don’t peel yet.
  • Inspect and remove any visibly damaged or bruised cloves.
  • Peel cloves just before freezing or storing in oil/vinegar.
  • Make sure containers and equipment are cleaned and thoroughly dried first.
  • Label containers with date before freezing or refrigerating.

Can you freeze garlic paste or chopped garlic?

It’s best to freeze peeled cloves, but you can also freeze chopped garlic or garlic paste:

  • Chopped garlic – Mince or finely chop cloves, spread on a baking sheet, and freeze. Then transfer to airtight bags or containers.
  • Garlic paste – Blend peeled cloves into a paste, spoon dollops onto a baking sheet, and freeze. Transfer frozen dollops to a freezer bag.

Frozen chopped garlic or paste will keep for 2-3 months. Remember to label with dates.

What are the best ways to use frozen garlic?

Frozen garlic is best for any recipe where appearance doesn’t matter. Use it for:

  • Soups, chilis, stews
  • Sauces, marinades
  • Casseroles, oven roasts
  • Dressings, sauces
  • Homemade stocks and broths

Avoid using frozen cloves raw, such as in fresh salsa or guacamole. Thaw first for other uses if appearance matters.

Can you roast garlic ahead of time?

It’s absolutely possible to roast garlic in advance. Here are some tips:

  • Roast garlic heads or individual cloves so cloves are softened but not super mushy.
  • Let the roasted garlic cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container.
  • Pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top to prevent drying out.
  • Refrigerate for up to 10 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Storing in oil helps retain moisture and flavor. Frozen roasted garlic is great for cooking into soups, stews, etc. Thaw before using.

How do you store homemade garlic oil?

When storing peeled garlic in oil, proper storage is important to prevent the growth of botulism-causing bacteria:

  • Use freshly peeled, cleaned garlic cloves.
  • Submerge cloves fully in the oil.
  • Refrigerate garlic oil, do not store at room temperature.
  • Use within 1 week for maximum safety and quality.
  • Avoid introducing pieces of garlic that may introduce botulism spores.
  • Discard garlic oil immediately if you notice any odd smells, bubbles, or sliminess.

Store homemade garlic infused oils in the refrigerator and toss when in doubt. Do not take risks with home infusions.


Storing garlic properly is the key to enjoying its flavor for months past harvest. Keep garlic dry, cool, and contained in airtight containers to maximize freshness. Peel cloves before freezing or storing in oil or vinegar to extend shelf life. With the right method, you can keep garlic around for everyday cooking and make recipes taste delicious.

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