Help you Garlic Last Longer!

Of all the things we waste, food may be the number one area where we can make a serious impact.  Up to 40% of the food in the United States goes to waste and about 40% of that waste happens at home according to the national resource defense council. When food goes to waste so does all the resources it takes to get that food on our plates including land, energy, water, fertilizer, and labor. Says Elizabeth falcon NRCD's food waste director.


Light and moisture are garlic’s worst enemies, as they both contribute to mold grow.  Store garlic at room temperature in a dry, dark place that has plenty of air circulation, like in a wire-mesh basket in a cupboard or pantry.   Avoid the refrigerator.  When stored in a cold environment, like the refrigerator, garlic will begin to sprout. While sprouted garlic is not poisonous, it can be bitter-tasting.



If you have garlic sitting in your kitchen right now, you may be wondering how long has it been sitting here?  Maybe you have softneck garlic braided and hanging in the corner of your kitchen the past three months?  Maybe you have a head of Rosewood hardneck garlic in the refrigerator?  A few bulbs in your root cellar, and an ice cube tray full of crushed garlic in the freezer?  But are they still good?   In a perfect world, you would have grown your own garlic.  A close second is -- always buy whole, unpeeled heads of garlic that have been cured properly.  Peel only as many cloves as you're going to use at one time.  Avoid that "pre-minced garlic" at the grocery store; it has preservatives and it's been sitting around for way too long.  I won't even mention garlic powder.


Garlic (Allium sativum) is a perennial with an underground bulb (head) composed of pungent bulblets commonly called cloves.

Science has provided garlic growers and garlic connoisseurs, definitive information about the confusing subject of garlic groups and varieties. In 2003, Dr. Joachim Keller of the Leibniz Institute for Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research in Gatersleben Germany, and Dr. Gayle Volk of the USDA in Colorado, used science to perform DNA analyses of garlics. They classified garlic into ten distinct groups including:

  • Five hardneck varieties called Porcelain, Purple Stripe, Marbled Purple Stripe, Glazed Purple Stripe, and Rocambole.

  • Three varieties of "weakly bolting" hardnecks that can produce softnecks - Creole, Asiatic and Turban.

  • Two distinct softneck varieties; Artichoke and Silverskin.


  • A whole bulb (head) of softneck garlic unpeeled will last four to seven months, assuming you store it properly.

  • A whole bulb (head) of hardneck garlic unpeeled will last three to six months, assuming you store it properly.

  • A single, unpeeled clove will last about three weeks. But once you take the skin off, garlic starts to degrade.

  • Individual peeled cloves will last about a week in the fridge.

  • Chopped garlic will last no more than a day or so (lasts two, maybe three days.)

  • Chopped or minced garlic will last 6 months if frozen with oil (and kept frozen in a freezer at -6 F.)


Use a 5-step approach to tell if you garlic is not fresh: 

  • First, look at it closely. Are there any dark spots? If so, throw it away.  Dark spots can be good indicators of rot, and patches of discoloration mean your garlic probably has gone bad. ​

  • Second, give it a squeeze.  If the garlic is soft, when you squeeze it, toss it. Garlic cloves should be plump, firm and crisp. 

  • Third, inspect the garlic bulb for blue mold.  Blue Mold on garlic may be caused by any of several Penicillium species, but most commonly Penicillium hirsutum. Penicillium decay of stored bulbs is common.

  • Fourth, look for green sprouts shooting up from the top of the clove. Yes, you see sprouts?  It is probably best not to use for cooking.  Or stick in in some soil in your garden (assuming it is not bleached garlic from China).  When a clove develops green shoots, energy is being robbed from the clove, to go into plant growth.  As a result, the garlic has started to turn. Sprouted garlic is not poisonous, it’s just not going to taste the way you want it to.  On a positive note, you could foster the growth of the sprouts, and harvest them for a salad in a month or so.  Sprouts are safe to eat. They do have a tendency to taste bitter.

  • Fifth,  take a close look at the color of a peeled clove.  Good, fresh garlic has a creamy white color, with a light yellowish hue.  If you peeled clove is more yellow, the clove may not be that fresh?  Don't use bad garlic. 


When you think of food poisoning, garlic may not come immediately to mind. But garlic can cause a serious type of food poisoning called botulism. The bacteria that cause botulism, called Clostridium botulinum, are found in many soils in the United States, particularly in the Western region of the U.S.  Regardless of its flavor potency, garlic is a low acid vegetable. The pH of a clove of garlic typically ranges from 5.3 to 6.3. As with all low-acid vegetables, garlic will support the growth and subsequent toxin production of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum when given the right conditions. These conditions include improper home canning and improper preparation and storage of fresh herb and garlic-in-oil mixtures. Moisture, room temperature, lack of oxygen, and low-acid conditions all favor the growth of Clostridium botulinum. When growing, this bacterium produces an extremely potent toxin that causes the illness botulism. If untreated, death can result within a few days of consuming the toxic food. 


Select garlic heads that are firm and tight skinned.  When buying garlic, look for large bulbs that are heavy and firm, with plump cloves. Squeeze the cloves gently to make sure the flesh still fills the papery skin and has not begun to shrivel.  Cloves should be fairly plump, free from mold, decay, shattered cloves, and from damage caused by dirt or staining.  Don't buy garlic with sunburn, sunscald, cuts, sprouts, large roots, disease, noticeable insects, or mechanical or other means.   Each bulb should be fairly well enclosed in its outer sheath.  GroEat Farm, located in Bozeman, Montana grows and sells exceptional hardneck garlic (grown at 5000 ft above sea level).  


If you grow your own garlic, it is important to let it cure after harvest. Spread the harvested plants (stem, leaves, bulbs and roots) on wire racks out of direct sunlight in a well-ventilated place to cure for 2 to 3 weeks or until skins are papery.   After the garlic has cured, the stem, leaves and roots are to be removed.


There are things you can do to make sure your garlic stays viable and tasty for longer, and they all have to do with storage. Unpeeled heads of garlic like to live in a dry, cool, ventilated, and dark place. Unfortunately, the refrigerator is not that place.  Garlic should be stored closer to room temperature, and away from a heat source.  These are simple rules that work, and will help your garlic live a long and prosperous life.


Commercially, garlic is stored near 32°F (0°C).   Storage life is 3 to 5 months under cool (50°F - 60°F) assuming dry, dark conditions.  Storing garlic in the crisper drawer of your fridge?   Be aware that once garlic has been in the cold, it will start sprouting within days after being brought to room temperature. (This is why garlic from the store often sprouts.) So if you store it this way, keep it in the fridge until you're ready to use it. If your garlic does sprout, grow some tasty garlic greens by popping the bulb in a small pot of soil on your window sill.


Peeling whole cloves requires that the papery skin be removed without cutting into the clove. If the garlic is going to be chopped or sliced, the skin can be removed by pressing the clove with the flat side of a knife until the clove and skin crack. The skin can then be easily removed.  Multiple cloves can be peeled by first placing them in a stainless steel bowl, covered by a matching bowl.  After shaking the covered bowl for 20-30 seconds, the cloves will release their skin covering.


Roasted garlic, which has become popular in recent years, is sweet to the taste and is delicious on bread or crackers as an appetizer or served as a vegetable side dish. To prepare roasted garlic, leave the head whole and cut off the tip of the head, exposing the cloves. Allow one-half to one head per person. Put the head (or heads) in a baking dish or wrap them in aluminum foil, sprinkle with olive oil or pat with butter, and season with a little salt and pepper and some fresh or dried thyme if desired. Bake at 350°F (176°C) until very soft and tender (about 45 minutes to 1 hour). The roasted garlic cloves can be easily squeezed from their skins and spread with a knife.  This method is our favorite way to enjoy garlic, and roasted garlic can be stored in the freezer indefinitely. It's also a great way to rapidly deal with a bumper crop, since you don't have to peel the garlic.  Roasted garlic is more mellow than fresh and can be used for just about anything you use fresh garlic for.  Try spreading it on crusty bread or dropped onto a pizza.


Garlic can be stored frozen, though some people think frozen garlic isn't quite as good as fresh. The quickest way to prep it for storing garlic in the freezer is to put the peeled cloves into a food processor or blender with a little water, pulse until they are evenly minced, and then freeze the puree in ice cube trays or spread it out in a thin (and eventually breakable) layer on a silicone sheet. Once frozen, store the cubes or pieces in an airtight container.  You can also Chop the garlic, wrap it tightly in a plastic freezer bag or in plastic wrap, and freeze. To use, grate or break off the amount needed.  Try Freezing the garlic unpeeled and remove cloves as needed. Another option is to peel the cloves and puree them with oil in a blender or food processor using 2 parts oil to 1 part garlic. The puree will stay soft enough in the freezer to scrape out parts to use in sautéing. Freeze this mixture immediately—do not store it at room temperature. The combination of the low-acid garlic, the exclusion of air (by mixing with oil), and room-temperature storage can support the growth of Clostridium botulinum.  Research on preservation of garlic is ongoing and these recommendations may change.  Make sure your food preservation information is correct and always current.  Always follow up-to-date, tested guidelines and recipes from reliable sources.


Researchers at the University of California - Davis evaluated Hot water Dips as potential treatments to reduce sprout and root growth in peeled or unpeeled cloves in which sprouts had begun internal development but not yet emerged.  Water dips treatments at 55 degrees Celsius (130 degrees Fahrenheit) for 10 min were effective. Several dips at 60 degrees Celsius  inhibited sprout and root growth, although only a 2.5 min treatment was both effective and non-injurious.  Respiration rates of heat-treated garlic were higher than those of untreated cloves.

To learn more about garlic and hot water dips, read the full research here.  

DRYING GARLIC (Dehydration)

Dry only fresh, firm garlic cloves with no bruises.   Making your own dehydrated garlic takes time though is fairly easy. Thinly slice your peeled garlic (use a food processor), and place the slices of garlic into a food dehydrator.  No additional pre-drying treatment is necessary. Dry at 140˚F (60˚C) for 2 hours, then reduce heat to 130˚F (54˚C) until completely dry or crisp. If desired, garlic salt may be made from dried garlic. Powder dried garlic by processing in a blender or food processor until fine. Add 4 parts salt to 1 part garlic powder and blend 1 to 2 seconds. If blended longer, the salt will become too fine and cake together in clumps.  Research on preservation of garlic is ongoing and these recommendations may change.  Make sure your food preservation information is correct and always current.  Always follow up-to-date, tested guidelines and recipes from reliable sources.



Canning of garlic is not recommended. Garlic is a low-acid vegetable that requires a pressure canner to be properly processed. Garlic loses most of its flavor when heated in this way. For this reason, adequate processing times have not been determined for canning garlic.  


Peeled cloves may be submerged in wine or vinegar and stored in the refrigerator. A dry white or red wine is suggested; white or wine vinegars also work well. The garlic/liquid mixture should keep for about 4 months in the refrigerator. Discard both the cloves and the liquid if there are signs of mold or yeast growth on the surface of the wine or vinegar. The garlic-flavored liquid and the garlic cloves may be used to flavor dishes. Do not store the garlic/liquid mixture at room temperature because it will rapidly develop mold growth.  Pickling mellows garlic out, making whole cloves mild enough to be tossed raw into salads or served as nibbles along with olives and such. And if you've ever tried pickling vegetables before, the process is exactly the same.  An easier way is to make refrigerator pickles, which involves nothing more than tossing your peeled garlic cloves into a jar with some salt and vinegar and leaving that in the back of your refrigerator until you run out; they'll keep for a long time.  Research on preservation of garlic is ongoing and these recommendations may change.  Make sure your food preservation information is correct and always current.  Always follow up-to-date, tested guidelines and recipes from reliable sources.


Extreme care must be taken when preparing flavored oils with garlic or when storing garlic in oil. Peeled garlic cloves may be submerged in oil and stored in the freezer for several months. Do not store garlic in oil at room temperature. Garlic-in-oil mixtures stored at room temperature provide perfect conditions for producing botulism toxin (low acidity, no free oxygen in the oil, and warm temperatures). The same hazard exists for roasted garlic stored in oil. At least three outbreaks of botulism associated with garlic-in-oil mixtures have been reported in North America. By law, commercially prepared garlic in oil has been prepared using strict guidelines and must contain citric or phosphoric acid to increase the acidity. Unfortunately, there is no easy or reliable method to acidify garlic in the home. Acidifying garlic in vinegar is a lengthy and highly variable process; a whole clove of garlic covered with vinegar can take from 3 days to more than 1 week to sufficiently acidify. As an alternative, properly prepared dried garlic cloves may be safely added to flavor oils.  Research on preservation of garlic is ongoing and these recommendations may change.  Make sure your food preservation information is correct and always current.  Always follow up-to-date, tested guidelines and recipes from reliable sources.



Question 1:

Why did my garlic turn blue?

Answer: Garlic contains anthocyanins, water-soluble pigments that can turn blue or purple under acidic conditions. This is a variable phenomenon that is more pronounced for immature garlic but can differ among cloves within a single head of garlic. If you grow your own garlic, be sure to mature it at room temperature for a couple of weeks before using it. Note: Research on food preservation is ongoing—recommendations may change. Make sure your food preservation information is always current. Always follow up-to-date, tested guidelines and receipts from reliable sources.

Question 2:

Is it okay to use garlic cloves that have little green sprouts?
Answer. When a bit of green appears in the center of garlic cloves, it's an indication that the garlic has begun to age and is about to sprout. This green portion is harmless, but it does have a slightly bitter flavor and should be removed before the rest of the clove is used.

Question 3:

How long does the "good stuff", Allicin, last after garlic is crushed or cut?
Answer:  Garlic is a particularly rich source of organosulfur compounds, which are thought to be responsible for its flavor and aroma.  According to the University of Oregon, Linus Pauling Institute,  the half-life in crushed garlic at 23°C is 2.5 days.

The formation of thiosulfinates is very rapid and has been found to be complete within 10 to 60 seconds of crushing garlic. Allicin breaks down in vitro to form a variety of fat-soluble organosulfur compounds (Figure 2), including diallyl trisulfide (DATS), diallyl disulfide (DADS), and diallyl sulfide (DAS), or in the presence of oil or organic solvents, ajoene and vinyldithiins (6). In vivo, allicin can react with glutathione and L-cysteine to produce S-allylmercaptoglutathione (SAMG) and S-allylmercaptocysteine (SAMC), respectively (Figure 2) (4).the case of alliin, the resulting sulfenic acids react with each other to form a thiosulfinate known as allicin.

Question 4:

How can you remove garlic odor from your breath?
Answer: The distinctive smell is caused by sulfur-containing chemicals in garlic and onion. The smell can linger on a person's breath for hours and even overnight, which discourages some people from eating garlic.  Try chewing on a sprig of fresh parsley. Brush your teeth and floss. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Try a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.  Have a cup of green tea.  Drink a cup of lemon water with honey.

Question 5:

How can you remove garlic odor from my fingers and hands?
Answer: The distinctive smell is caused by sulfur-containing chemicals in garlic.  To remove the smell of garlic from your fingers and hands try these four sure ways to get rid of that nasty smell: Rub your fingers and hands on stainless steel.  Pour a little salt or baking soda on hands and rub them together. Rinse with water. Squeeze toothpaste or pour a small amount of mouthwash on one palm, then rub hands together. Rinse with water.

Question 6:

What does cooking do to Garlic?
Answer:  You'll get the most benefit from raw garlic.  Eating garlic is a great way to boost your health.  Heating garlic or putting it in a recipe can change its pH balance. The enzymes from the allicin, need a few minutes to start working, so let it sit after you mince, crush or chop it.  But if you choose to cook it, don't heat it above 140°F.   Another secret is to let the peeled garlic sit for about 10 minutes before cooking. The exposure to oxygen apparently triggers a chemical reaction that produces anticarcinogens.  Cooking garlic diminishes its vitamin content significantly. Vitamins B and C in garlic are water soluble, so they are easily destroyed during food preparation, especially cooking. Since boiling reduces vitamins, especially vitamin C , the National Institutes of Health suggests that steaming and shortening cooking times may help preserve the vitamin C in garlic. Vitamin K is fat soluble so cooking will not affect it.

Although minerals cannot be broken down, cooking garlic may leach out some of the manganese, calcium and other minerals.  The Linus Pauling Institute reports that heating garlic cloves whole or immediately after crushing can destroy the sensitive enzyme (alliinase) in garlic that is responsible for producing allicin. However, the health benefits can be partially conserved by crushing garlic and allowing it to stand for 10 minutes prior to cooking. That gives the enzyme time to be released and for allicin to form. Once formed, allicin is relatively heat stable, according to

Question 7:

What is Allicin ?
Answer:  The health benefits in garlic can be attributed to the compound that is responsible for its strong odor. When garlic is chopped, crushed, sliced or chewed, alliinase enzymes are activated and, through a series of conversions, form a sulfur phytonutrient called allicin.   Allicin is an organosulfur compound obtained from garlic, a species in the family Alliaceae. ... When fresh garlic is chopped or crushed, the enzyme alliinase converts alliin into allicin, which is responsible for the aroma of fresh garlic.  Chemical formula: C6H10OS2.   The antioxidant properties of allicin in garlic have been studied extensively for their potential benefit for chronic inflammatory diseases and effects on the cardiovascular system.    Allicin is an oily, slightly yellow liquid that gives garlic its unique odor. It is a thioester of sulfenic acid and is also known as allyl thiosulfinate.  Its biological activity can be attributed to both its antioxidant activity and its reaction with thiol-containing proteins. Produced in garlic cells, allicin is released upon disruption, producing a potent characteristic scent when garlic is cut or cooked.

Question 8:

Is Garlic Safe for Everyone to Eat?
Answer:  Garlic is probably safe for most people in the amounts usually eaten in foods.  Side effects include breath and body odor, heartburn, and upset stomach. These side effects can be more noticeable with raw garlic. Some people have allergic reactions to garlic.  Taking garlic may increase the risk of bleeding. If you take an anticoagulant (blood thinner) such as warfarin (Coumadin) or if you need surgery, tell your health care provider if you’re taking or planning to take garlic dietary supplements.  Garlic has been found to interfere with the effectiveness of some drugs, including saquinavir, a drug used to treat HIV infection.

Question 8:

Is Elephant Garlic Really Garlic?
Answer:  No. Elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum) is not a true garlic, but actually a variant of the leek.  That being said, Elephant garlic has similar properties of hardneck and softneck garlic.  When crushed and then analyzed using a DART ion source, elephant garlic has been shown to produce both allicin, found in garlic, and syn-propanethial-S-oxide (onion lachrymatory factor), found in onions and leeks, but absent in garlic, consistent with the classification of elephant garlic as a closer relative of leek than of garlic.  The flavor of Elephant garlic therefor, is not exactly like garlic, though it is much more similar to garlic than to leeks. The flavor is milder than garlic, and much more palatable to some people than garlic when used raw as in salads. It is sometimes confused with solo garlic.   Elephant garlic grows tall, and has a solid, flowering stalk and broad, flat leaves much like those of the leek, but forms a bulb consisting of very large, garlic-like cloves. Can you use enormous “elephant garlic” just like regular garlic? Real garlic and elephant garlic are both aromatics are part of the allium genus, though they belong to different species. You can use the huge coloves just like hardneck or softneck garlic.  In fact, when making raw dishes that call for garlic, elephant garlic just may be the better choice, as it has a milder taste.


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