How Long Does Garlic Last in a Refrigerator?
Updated: Aug 25
Your recipe calls for three cloves of garlic. You open the fridge and start shuffling around the vegetable drawer and you find a whole garlic bulb next to a honey crisp apple. The garlic bulb feels firm and looks beautiful. "How long has this been in there?" you ask. "I don't remember when I bought this from GROeat Garlic Farm, in Montana? Is it still good?" How long does garlic last in the refrigerator? Maybe you stored garlic bulbs or cloves in a ceramic garlic vessel for the last year. Maybe you placed whole, garlic heads next to your apples and oranges in the vegetable drawer? Maybe you placed a few bulbs on the top of your refrigerator for the past six months. Maybe you have a bunch of cloves in a plastic bag, stuffed in the freezer compartment? But are they still good?
A full garlic bulb (with the cloves intact) may last in the refrigerator for a few months. Individual peeled cloves will last a month or so in the fridge, and chopped garlic will last for a shorter period of time unless it is sealed in a jar and/or has preservatives. Individual cloves, separated from the bulb, if kept unpeeled, will last a little more than a month in the fridge. Once the skin is removed, garlic begins to degrade more quickly. If possible, always buy whole, bulbs of garlic. Whole bulbs (also called heads of garlic) are made up of individual, unpeeled cloves. Peel only as many cloves as you're going to use at one time. Minced garlic at the grocery store is appealing, though likely that jar of garlic has been sitting on the shelf for a while and it has lost that beautiful, robust garlic flavor. In the right environment, your garlic should live a long and comfortable life in your kitchen pantry.
Ideally, don't store garlic in the refrigerator. The best practice is to purchase fresh, whole garlic bulbs and store the garlic in a cool, well-vented space, away from heat and direct sunlight. Definitely do not store whole garlic in a plastic bag. Storing garlic in a brown paper bag or mesh material is fine. Your garlic will last longer and retain that tastier flavor for longer. It's all about how garlic is stored. Bulbs of garlic are alive. They like to continue to live in a fairly dry, cool, well-ventilated, and dark environment. That is not the inside of the refrigerator. Garlic should be stored closer to 60 degrees Farenheight, away from any heat source. Heat rises and storing garlic on top of your refrigerator is not always a good idea.
HOW TO TELL IF GARLIC HAS GONE BAD?
There are a few ways you can determine if your garlic needs to be thrown into the compost or garbage. First, give the individual cloves or entire garlic bulb a gentle feel. Does it feel soft and squishy, or does it feel firm? If garlic feels soft, likely it has gone bad. Often, garlic stored in the freezer will result in a softer, less rigid structure; It is okay to use garlic removed from the freezer that feels a little soft. Second, give the garlic a visual inspection. If you see a blue or green mold on any part of the garlic, toss it. If you see brown or patches of odd-colored discoloration, likely your garlic has gone bad. Garlic needs to be handled with care and not dropped or thrown around. Brown spots can be a bruise from handling or a bruise caused by heavy soil. Bacteria can get into the bruised clove and quickly discolor it. Spoiled garlic forms brown spots on the cloves and turns from the usual white to a more yellow or brown color. If your garlic has started to send up green sprouts, you can still use the garlic, though the taste of the garlic will have changed and will likely taste more bitter. Sprouted garlic is still safe to eat.