Growing your own garlic takes 7 or more months. As such, you want to enjoy it as fresh as you can for as long as you can. So, in this article, I’ll show you how to cure and store garlic so it lasts longer.
As a bonus, I’ll list down and explain the different ways you can make garlic last longer in addition to curing and storing it with the bulb intact.
Let’s get started.
Harvesting Garlic from Your Garden
The first step to storing garlic from your garden is to harvest it. From there, you’ll clean them and cure them which are both important steps before storage.
After that, all you need to do is keep the garlic in ideal storing conditions so you can enjoy it months later as fresh as the day you harvested them.
How to Harvest Garlic
Here’s a step by step guide on how to harvest garlic.
If you prefer watching the process instead of reading, here’s a video tutorial that will show you each of the steps to follow to properly harvest your garlic.
Step 1 – Prepare Your Garlic for Harvesting
Unlike other vegetables that are easily visible because they grow above the ground, garlic can be a bit challenging since you can’t see them.
As such, checking the leaves will give you signs that the garlic is ready.
If you see its leaves become dry and start turning yellow, it means harvest time is near.
This often happens around June or July since many growers will plant the garlic during the fall.
When the leaves start declines, it is a sign to stop watering.
Step 2 – Wait Until the Time is Right
The key to telling when your garlic is ready to be harvested is to check the leaves.
By this time, you should see a few leave die back. But, there should be 4 to 6 green leaves left. When this happens, it is time to harvest.
You want to avoid waiting too long since the longer you wait after that, the cloves will start separating from the bulbs.
Step 3 – Start Digging Up the Garlic Bulbs
Once harvest time comes, it is time to start digging. Dry, soil makes it easier to dig.
And, you want to dig as opposed to just pulling the garlic out of the ground. Unlike onions, garlic are stuck in there.
They start with small cloves but develop into mature bulbs. So, they won’t just slide out. Also, garlic has a strong root system and will grow several inched under the ground.
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What Do I Do with My Garlic After I Harvest It?
After your harvest garlic, there are many things you can do with it.
- Use it right away – you can eat, use or cook raw garlic right after you’ve harvested it and cleaned it. This can be anywhere from a few minutes that you’ve taken them from the garden to a few days after that. If you plan on doing this, you can keep them in your panty.
- Store it short term and use it within that time – another option is to just store them away for short term use. This can be for 1 week to about 3 weeks. On occasion, I’ve gone close to 4 weeks without any problems.
- Storing peeled garlic – ideally, storing garlic is best kept intact. That is, leave the entire bulb as is. If you’ve peeled it, you can store it in the fridge. Keep the peeled garlic in an airtight container so it doesn’t make everything in your fridge smell like garlic. You want to use it as soon as possible as it will begin to lose its flavor quite quickly.
- Roast it then freeze it – if you want to store it a little longer, you can roast the garlic first. This will allow it to stay up to 2 weeks in the fridge and as long as 3 months in the freezer.
- Store it for a longer period – to store garlic for long periods you’ll need to cure and dry the garlic first. Do this after your harvest and clean the bulb. Properly cured and stored away in the right conditions, the garlic will last for several months. The longest I’ve gone so far is 7 months. I’ve heard of people storing them for over a year. Although in most cases, people keep them up to 6 months or a little more.
How to Cure Garlic Before Storing It
In this article, I’ll focus on long term garlic storage. And, as mentioned above, you need to cure and dry the garlic bulbs (and keep them intact) before you store them away.
Here’s how to cure garlic before storing it, step by step.
- After you’ve harvested the garden, you’ll need to clean it. But, make sure not to wet it, wash it or soak in water.
- Instead, just brush off any dirt and soil that’s on the bulb. You can use your hands, a cloth or a small brush (an old toothbrush works well for the small nooks).
- Another important thing to keep in mind is to keep the entire bulb intact. Don’t separate them or cut off the roots or stalks. Leave them as is after cleaning when you cure them.
- Next, bundle the garlic together. You can bundle between 6 to 10 with one twine depending on how big the bulbs are and how large the bundles you prefer.
- Once bundled, hang them with the bulb facing down. Keep the garlic in a dark, cool space.
- Another option is to lay the garlic on a screen or something similar that will let the air easily flow through. Don’t pile them up. Instead, keep them in single layers only.
- Curing will take about 3 to 4 weeks. It is important to keep the garlic away from sunlight or getting wet during this time.
- When the roots and tops of the garlic have dried, you can cut them off. Remove the outer skin (which is like paper) to clean them. But, don’t go too deep where you expose the cloves.
Why Does Garlic Need to be Cured Before Storing?
From above, you already know that garlic does not necessarily need to be cured, at least if you want to use it fresh or within 2 to 3 or so weeks.
But, for longer periods, raw garlic is best cured and dried before stored away.
Curing allows the garlic to preserve its flavor so you can enjoy its original flavor many months after you’ve harvested it. If you don’t cure it, every day that passes, the garlic will gradually lose its flavor. In some cases become more bitter.
The best part is, you don’t need to go through the extra work of freezing, canning, pickling which will ultimately change its flavor as well. But, if you’re interested in that, I’ve also included those storage methods below just for good measure.
As such, I like to pick the nice, healthy bulbs to store away. If you have some that were slightly damaged during harvest, you can set them aside and use them within the next 2 to 3 weeks.
Just as importantly, cured garlic can be stored for several months. This way, you don’t have to hurry to use them all up soon.
How Do You Know When It Is Cured?
Garlic takes about 3 to 4 weeks on average to cure for long term storage. This assumes moderate conditions.
- If you live in a warm, dry area, it will cure much faster since the conditions speed up the curing process.
- If you where you live experiences humid, wet (rainy) climate, curing can take as long as 2 months or a little more.
Similarly, the larger the bulbs, the longer it will take to dry and cure. That’s because there is more volume. And, like cooking a thicker piece of meat, the inside will require more time to get done.
You can tell when curing it done when the roots and tops of the garlic look dry. Begin by inspecting the roots. They should feel stiff like a dry brush. The roots will likewise looked shriveled as they’ve lost the moisture that makes them look plump.
Best Way to Store Garlic
When it comes to storing garlic for as long as you can while keeping it flavorful, there are a few things to keep in mind. These are the main factors to consider:
- Moderately Cool Temperature
- Moderate Humidity
- Little to No Light
- Good Air Circulation
Here’s a short explanation for each one
Moderately Cool Temperature
The ideal temperature to store garlic is between 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Garlic tends to sprout at colder temperatures. This makes refrigerators unideal long term storage.
Temperature is also what makes storing garlic properly tricky through the winter.
On the other hand, warm temperature causes it to dry out. And, since you’ve already cured it, you don’t really want to make it shrivel up even more.
In addition to temperature, humidity is another factor.
- Low humidity can cause dehydration. Again, this will cause additional shriveling. Too much of this and you end up with rock-hard garlic. If you live somewhere with four seasons, keep a good eye on the garlic since running a heater will dry out the air in your home bringing humidity low.
- High humidity increases the risk of mold and fungus. As a result, the garlic can rot.
No Light and Away from Direct Sunlight
Sunlight is something to consider as well. Ideally, to store garlic for long periods, you want to keep it in a dark place with no light.
If you’re storing for the short term, light won’t be as big as deal as temperature and humidity. That said, you want to keep garlic away from direct sunlight.
Good Air Circulation
Ideally, you want to allow some air circulation as well. This is why you often see garlic stored in mesh bags, open baskets with holes in them or some kind of wiry container.
I’ve found that mesh bags are the simplest way to store garlic. If you’re like my mom who likes to chuck things in a bunch instead of wrapping them in bunches, keep the garlic in a woven baskets will holes along the sides.
Other Ways to Store Garlic
One of the best things about garlic is its versatility. There are so many ways to use garlic. You can use them fresh, sauteed, chopped up, in stews and many more.
That versatility carries over to storage.
In addition to curing then storing away for long periods in a dark, warm, dry place, there are many other ways to store garlic as well.
Here’s a list of garlic storage options you can choose from depending on how you want to use the garlic later on.
Storing Garlic in the Fridge
This is one of the easiest ways to store garlic. But it is not the best option.
Garlic may sprout in cold conditions. And, the fridge’s cold temperature makes it dry. As such, you want to keep it in the crisper drawer of your fridge along with your veggies.
That said, if you have leftover peeled garlic, refrigerating it is the best option. This will let you store it for 1 to 2 weeks as long as you keep it in tightly covered container or plastic bag.
In general though, refrigeration is not a good way to store garlic for the longer term.
Freezing the Garlic
A better option to storing garlic in the fridge is to keep it in the freezer.
You can freeze freshly chopped garlic and keep it there. These way to do this is leave the whole cloves unpeeled. Although, you can chop them up and bunch them together to form a shape.
Finally, you can store the garlic in oil and freeze them, which I’ll show you below.
Here’s how to freeze garlic to store it longer.
Dehydrating (Drying) Garlic)
You can likewise store garlic by dehydrating them. Depending on what you have, you can use an oven or food dehydrator to get this done.
- To start, pick out fresh garlic with not bruising.
- Break the bulb apart and peel the cloves.
- Then, cut each clove into half.
- Put them into the oven at 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours.
- Then, bring the temperature down to 130 degrees.
- Once they are completely dry, you can take them out.
Canning garlic is similar to canning other foods. It takes a little bit of work since you’ll need to keep the garlic in a liquid with this method.
Here’s a step by step guide to canning garlic.
Store Garlic in Oil
This is a great way for storing garlic as well as making garlic flavored oil.
To store garlic in oil, allow garlic to dry then chop it up. Keep in mind that removing the peel means that the garlic will start losing its flavor and quality.
As such, you want to prep it quickly then store in your freezer.
Depending on how much chopped garlic you have, you can store it in a sealed bag or small jar. Then cover the garlic with olive oil.
After that place the garlic in oil in your freezer. This will allow it to store for 6 to 12 months.
Note: Never store garlic in oil at room temperature. Also, I prefer using dried garlic in oil rather than fresh ones because the latter runs the risk of botulism.
You can use the garlic in oil for cooking and making salad dressing.
Keep the Garlic in Wine or Vinegar
Another way to store garlic is in wine or vinegar. This is very similar to pickling.
To do so, place the cloves of garlic into a jar of wine or vinegar and keep it in the fridge. This will let the garlic store for 3 to 5 months in your refrigerator.
Dry white wine is a good choice. On the other hand, you can go with white vinegar as well.
Roast the Garlic in the Oven
Roasted garlic is amazing. Not only does roasting enhance its flavor, it also brings out amazing aroma that will fill your entire house.
Best of all roasted garlic can store longer than raw garlic if you keep it in the freezer. You can keep it there between 1 week to 3 months.
To roast garlic,
- You want to keep the entire bulb intact.
- Grease the tray or casserole you want to keep the garlic on with some goil
- Make sure the bulbs have been cleaned.
- Bake the garlic at 350 degrees.
- The goal is to get the bulbs soft and easy to squeeze. This will take about 40 to 50 minutes.
How Long Does Garlic Last
Properly cured whole bulbs of garlic can be stored for many months. Ideally, you want to pick out the bulbs that haven’t sustained any damage and don’t have any bruises).
However, exactly how long the garlic lasts will depend on the kid of garlic.
- Softneck garlic often last longer than hardneck garlics.
- And, among the many different types of garlic, the longest storing ones are the silverskins and the creole, both with the ability to go 12 months or a little more.
- Meanwhile, the turban and Asiatic garlics are among the shortest. They’ll last between 3 to 5 months after curing.
- Those in between ranging from 6 to 10 months storage include rocambole, artichoke, porcelain and purple stripe garlic.
As such, it is a good idea to identify the type of garlic you have so you can tell the ideal storage period for them.
However, in addition to curing before storage, keeping the bulb intact is crucial as well. Quality and flavor will quickly decline if:
- Your break the bulb into cloves
- Peel the cloves
- Remove the paper wrapper around the bulb
- You can leave unpeeled cloves in the pantry or counter and they will last about 3 or so weeks.
- Peeled garlic cloves will reach a week or so if kept in the fridge.
- Chopped garlic only lasts for 1 to 2 days. Freezing will extend this period if you want to keep them longer.
Can Garlic Go Bad?
Like other vegetables (and fruits for that matter), when garlic that turns brown, becomes soft to the touch or shrinks, it is a sign to throw it away.
Additionally, if you keep garlic for too long or store it improperly, they can sprout or shrivel up. Both are still safe to eat. But, they’ll have a very different flavor and quality to the garlic that you’re familiar with.
As such, the best ways to use garlic are:
- When it is relatively fresh
- When stored properly
Planting, harvest, curing and storing your own garlic not only lets you save money. It also allows you to enjoy fresh tasting, high quality garlic many months after you’ve harvested them.
Above, I’ve shown you several ways to store garlic to prolong its storage. Choose whichever method you want and enjoy the garlic.