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Storing Garlic

Heads of garlic in a basket. Image credit: Dagmara Dombrovska

September 2022


If you do any amount of cooking in your apartment or townhome, chances are you have some garlic. And unless you go through it quickly, you might be wondering how to make sure it stays both fresh and potent.

First, make sure you’re choosing good, fresh bulbs of garlic when you buy it at the supermarket. Look for firm cloves with tight skins. If it feels even a little soft, it’s already lost some of its flavor and you’ll struggle to keep it fresh. While we’re on the subject of buying garlic, stick to full heads. While pre-peeled or grated garlic may seem convenient, it’s rarely as flavorful as the fresh stuff and it’s often treated with preservatives.

When storing it at home, garlic loves to be kept in a cool, dry place with lots of air circulation. And by cool, we don’t mean cold. So, no refrigerator. Also, if you keep it on your counter, try to avoid direct sunlight. It’s best to use a basket that gets good air circulation and in a cool cupboard.

When you need a clove or two, just break it off the head. Some people like to break up the entire head and store the separated cloves. That’s fine, as long as you don’t peel the cloves. And if your garlic ever starts to sprout, it’s fine. You can just cut off the green shoots and use the clove.

If you want to store peeled cloves, put them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also store chopped garlic this way. But in either case, the garlic will start to soften and lose flavor within a few days.

If you go through your garlic slowly, freezing it also an option. You can freeze it in any form – from whole heads to peeled cloves to grated. Just use an airtight container and it will store well for up to a year. If you’re freezing peeled cloves, consider laying them out on a baking sheet first, freezing them until solid, and then placing them in an appropriate container. This way, the individual cloves won’t stick together. One last thing to be aware of is that frozen garlic won’t have the same crunchy texture as fresh, but the all flavor will be there.