How to Store and Preserve Garlic

Ah, that fresh, pungent homegrown garlic flavor! It’s so much better when it comes from your own garden. Garlic can be stored as whole heads for a few months to a year, depending on the storage conditions and the variety – softnecks store longer than hardnecks – but all your garlic can be preserved for longer storage by freezing or dehydrating. Here’s how to make your garlic last, so you can enjoy it year round!

Storing Whole Heads

Store whole, unbroken heads in a cool (about 60 to 65 degrees is ideal), dry, dark place with moderate humidity. Keep them in a mesh bag, paper bag or cardboard box for good air circulation. If you had braided your garlic for curing, you can leave it in the braid for storage as well, just cut off the heads when you’re ready to use them starting at the bottom of the braid. Do not store heads with damaged cloves, as they spoil easily. These should instead be used right away, or preserved by drying or pickling.

Refrigerator Pickles

It’s not a good idea to store your cured garlic heads in the fridge, because they will have a tendency to sprout at this temperature. However, you can store them for a few months in the fridge if you pickle them. There are many recipes online for picked garlic, but the easiest is refrigerator pickles, which don’t require water bath canning. To make them, start by peeling enough cloves for a small jar. Here’s a quick trick for peeling a lot of cloves fast: cut the blunt bottom off each clove, blanch them for one minute, cool in a bowl of ice water, and the skins will slip right off! Put the peeled cloves in the jar full of vinegar and add some salt. You can also toss in a few chili peppers or herbs like rosemary for gourmet flavor. Put the jars in the fridge immediately, and use them within two months. Let it sit at least a week before enjoying so the flavors have time to develop.

Freezing the Harvest

Garlic can be stored for longer periods in the freezer, as whole cloves (peeled or unpeeled) or chopped. Simply use the cloves when you need them, no need to thaw first. You can make ready-to-use garlic paste by pureeing garlic with two parts olive oil and freezing it. It will stay soft in the freezer. Do not store this paste in the fridge or at room temperature, as there is a risk for botulism at the warmer temperature. The freezer is also a good place to store roasted garlic. Bake bulbs at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until soft. A Terracotta Garlic Baker is great for this. Cut the tops off the cloves, and squeeze out the roasted paste. No need to thaw before using, as it stays soft in the freezer.

Dried Garlic and Garlic Salt

For even longer-term storage, try dehydrating them! Peel, thinly slice and dehydrate the cloves until crisp. The dried garlic can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, or in the freezer. This can be used as-is or ground into garlic powder. To further preserve it as garlic salt, mix three parts salt to one part garlic powder. Don't let your homegrown garlic spoil before you can use it...preserve it!

2 comments

  • We love to ferment whole garlic cloves in a brine made from 2 tbsp. non-iodized salt, and 4 cups non-chlorinated water. Peel enough garlic cloves using the method recommended above, and place them in a clean wide mouth quart mason jar. Fill the jar with cloves to just below the shoulder of the jar. I use a Masontops.com pickle pebble and pickle pipe. Place the pickle pebble in the jar and make sure it sits fairly flat atop the garlic. Pour brine into the jar, enough to cover the pickle pebble. Fit the pickle pipe and ring lid. After 2 weeks in a dark corner of the kitchen the cloves are ready to taste. If they are not sour enough for you leave them to ferment another week or two. When they are sour enough I like to drain the cloves and put them in a clean jar with a new batch of brine before putting them in the refrigerator. These should be eaten within 2 months.

    Cathy
  • Even storing Garlic Paste in the freezer, you should soak the cloves in Citric Acid for 24 hours before blending with Olive Oil. Mix at 1 Tablespoon per 2 cups of water.

    Bill Mooney

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