Garlic is a foundational aromatic element in cuisines all over the globe. From Italy (where it’s a more controversial ingredient than one might think) to China, the Caribbean to Lebanon, garlic is beloved for its sharp pungency and characteristic smell that, sometimes to our chagrin, lingers on our skin and on our breath.
Whether you love to cook with garlic or slather it over dishes in the form of compound butter, it’s important to know how to store your garlic properly so you can rest assured that whenever you need it, it will be there—no bitter sprouts, or soft or dried-up cloves—ready to mince for a quick weeknight dinner or grate into a quick cheater's aioli.
How to Store Garlic Properly
The best way to store your heads of garlic is whole. Don’t go breaking up the head into cloves right when you get home from the supermarket, instead break off the cloves you need, as you need them. Keeping the head whole will make your garlic last longer—up to a few months.
Store your heads somewhere cool, dry, and dark. They should have plenty of ventilation, so don’t go plopping them into a Tupperware on top of the fridge. Think wire or mesh baskets on the counter (out of the sun and away from the stove) or, if you’re short on counter space, in a paper bag in the cupboard.
It might seem like a good idea to pop heads of garlic in the fridge, but this is a definite no-no. Storing whole heads of garlic in the fridge causes them to sprout more rapidly than they would at room temperature.
If you have extra peeled cloves that you want to keep, you can store them for up to 2 days in an airtight container in the fridge, but this is just a tip in case you peel extra cloves—not a suggestion for regular storage!
5 Ways to Make Garlic Last Longer
If you store your garlic properly, the heads will last for months as is, but there are lots of other methods you can use to stretch how long it lasts, give it new life, and add its flavor to other ingredients. Here are five favorites that you can easily do at home to take your love of garlic to new places.
Soft, slightly sweet roasted garlic will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks and in the freezer for about three months. To make it, preheat your oven to 400°F. Slice off the top of a whole head of garlic to expose the cloves. Place the garlic heads onto a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap tightly. Roast for about 40 minutes or until soft all the way through, caramelized, and golden brown. Let cool before pressing the cloves out of the papery skins to serve or store.
Similar in flavor to roasted garlic, garlic confit is the low and slow version that results in beautiful golden cloves as well as deliciously garlicky oil. It will keep in the fridge for about two months. To make it, preheat your oven to 250°F. Peel about three heads worth of garlic cloves (this trick makes it quick), and place them into a small baking dish. Cover with grapeseed or olive oil (about one and a half cups), cover, and bake for about two hours, or until the garlic cloves are tender all the way through and golden brown. Let cool completely before transferring the oil and garlic to an airtight container and storing the fridge. Use the cloves and oil together, or separately.
Fermented Garlic Honey
One of the easiest methods, to make fermented garlic honey, peel and crush the cloves from one head of garlic and transfer to an resealable glass jar. Cover with raw honey (about one and a half cups) and stir to combine so the garlic is coated completely in the honey. Seal and let sit at room temperature, checking in on it every couple of days to release any gases and give the honey a stir. After one week, you can start using both the honey and the fermented cloves. The honey will keep for about one month.
To make garlic or other kinds of flavored butters, check out our guide here! Garlic butter will keep in the fridge for about two weeks or up to six months in the freezer.
Crispy fried garlic chips are a great way to add texture and toasty, garlicky flavors to salads, soups, or pasta dishes, and they keep for about one month when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
To make garlic chips, peel as many garlic cloves as you like and then use a knife (or mandolin or microplane) to slice them very thinly. Set a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and place a few paper towels on a plate for draining and blotting your chips, then add some olive oil to a small frying pan over medium heat. Add your garlic chips and swirl the pan gently to get the garlic in one layer. Let fry for about three minutes, swirling often, until the slices are lightly golden in color. Remove the pan from the heat and tip the contents into the sieve to drain the chips from the oil.
Once drained, tip the garlic chips onto the paper towel-lined plate and blot dry gently. Use immediately (and keep that oil for salad dressings, dipping pizza crusts, etc.) or store the garlic chips and oil separately in airtight containers (oil in the fridge!) for up to a month.