Learn the do’s and don’ts for storing this flavorful allium.

Alex Loh
March 14, 2021
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Bulbs of garlic, garlic press and olive oil
Credit: Getty Images / photosimysia

Garlic is one vegetable that deserves a permanent spot on your kitchen counter. Not only does the allium boast some great health benefits like improving blood pressure and boosting immunity, but it can also be used to flavor a variety of dishes. From vinaigrettes to salmon to roasted potatoes, garlic brings a sharp taste to any meal, and is worth having on hand. Learn the best way to store garlic—including do's and don'ts for whole garlic and peeled garlic.

How to Store Garlic

How to Store Whole Garlic Heads

Do Store in a Cool, Dark and Dry Environment

Whole garlic heads can last months when stored under the proper conditions. There are three main factors to consider when storing garlic: temperature, light and moisture. A cool environment helps prevent garlic from sprouting, while a dry one ensures moisture won't build up and cause the garlic to turn moldy. Meanwhile, a dark environment prevents discoloration of the garlic cloves.

Garlic heads should also be stored in an area with good air circulation, as airflow will foster a hospitable environment. One way to store garlic heads is in a mesh bag that hangs in the pantry (buy it: Amazon, $10). Or you could opt to store the bulbs in a garlic keeper, which is designed to promote airflow (buy it: Amazon, $12). You can also keep it simple by storing your garlic in a bowl on the counter.

How to Store Peeled Garlic Cloves

Do Use As Soon As Possible

After you've peeled garlic cloves, you can store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container. The garlic may lose its pungency and flavor, so it's best to use it as soon as possible—no later than a week after peeling. However, there are other refrigeration methods that can prolong the life (and flavor) of peeled garlic.

Do Store in Oil, but Don't Store at Room Temperature

Peeled garlic cloves can be stored in oil, but one has to be careful about the method. Storing garlic in oil at room temperature is not safe, as it can create an environment for botulism, a toxin that can attack the body's nerves.

Instead, peeled garlic cloves in oil should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. If stored in the refrigerator, the USDA recommends consuming it within seven days. Alternatively, the USDA notes that garlic stored in the freezer can last up to several months. When storing garlic, the USDA says "package in glass freezer jars or plastic freezer boxes, leaving ½-inch headspace." (We like these Ball glass jars, buy them: Target, $11 for a pack of 12.)

Do Store in Wine or Vinegar

An article by Linda J. Harris, a food safety and microbiology specialist, suggests submerging peeled garlic cloves in wine or vinegar and storing them in the refrigerator. Harris recommends using a dry white or red wine, or a white or wine vinegar for preservation. When stored this way, the garlic should keep for around four months. However, if the garlic or liquid shows signs of mold or yeast, it should be discarded.