How long can garlic be stored?

Garlic is a versatile and flavorful ingredient used in many cuisines around the world. With its strong, pungent taste, garlic can elevate simple dishes into something special. However, like other fresh produce, garlic has a limited shelf life. Knowing the best storage methods for garlic can help you keep it fresh and usable for as long as possible.

How to Store Garlic

There are a few key things to keep in mind when storing garlic:

  • Keep it dry – Moisture causes garlic to spoil quickly. Make sure garlic is completely dry before storing.
  • Store it in a cool, dark place – Garlic stays fresher when stored around 60°F away from light. Pantries or cupboards work well.
  • Allow air circulation – Do not pack garlic cloves tightly together, allow space between them so air can circulate.
  • Store in breathable container – Use containers like mesh or cloth bags instead of plastic bags or airtight containers.

Following these guidelines provides the best environment for storing garlic properly. Here are some of the best practices for achieving long-term garlic storage:

Leave Garlic Intact

Garlic bulbs last longer when the cloves remain attached to the bulb and the outer skin is still on. Individual peeled cloves will not have as long of a shelf life. Only break bulbs apart and peel cloves as needed.

Cure Bulbs Before Storing

After harvest, garlic can be cured by letting bulbs sit out with stems attached in a warm, dry spot out of sunlight for 2-3 weeks. This dries them out for better storage.

Use Breathable Containers

Mesh or cloth bags, wicker baskets, or wire racks allow air flow around the garlic while keeping light out. Avoid sealing garlic in plastic bags or airtight containers.

Container Breathability Rating
Mesh or cloth bag High
Wicker basket High
Wire rack High
Plastic food storage container Low
Plastic bag Low

How Long Does Garlic Last?

When stored properly, garlic can last for several months. Fresh, uncured garlic will not last as long as cured garlic. Here are the approximate timelines for how long properly stored garlic will remain fresh and usable:

Type of Garlic Refrigerator 40°F Cool Pantry 60°F
Fresh uncured bulbs Up to 3-4 weeks Up to 1-2 months
Cured bulbs 5-6 months 7-8 months

Whole cured bulbs stored in a cool pantry in breathable containers can often last up to 8 months. Refrigerating reduces duration by 1-2 months. Broken down cloves peeled from the bulb will last about half as long.

Whole Bulbs vs Individual Cloves

A whole cured bulb with intact skin and stem will keep longer than peeled individual cloves. Whole bulbs last 7-8 months where peeled cloves may only last 3-4 months.

Refrigerated vs Pantry

In most cases, cured garlic stored in a cool pantry around 60°F can last 1-2 months longer than garlic refrigerated at 40°F. The cold air in the refrigerator can hasten sprouting.

Signs Garlic Has Gone Bad

Check garlic bulbs regularly during storage for any signs they may have gone bad. Discard garlic that shows the following:

  • Mold – White, fuzzy mold growing around cloves is a sign of spoilage. Moldy garlic should be discarded.
  • Shriveling – Over time, stored garlic cloves start to shrivel and become dried out. Older cloves lose moisture and skin becomes papery.
  • Sprouting – Green sprouts or shoots emerging from cloves mean the garlic is past its prime.
  • Softness – Garlic should feel firm. Soft, mushy cloves have spoiled.
  • Brown discoloration – Brown or dark spots on the cloves or the bulb wrappers are a sign of rot.

Garlic that shows these signs of spoilage should be discarded. Fresh, uncured garlic tends to go bad quicker than cured garlic. Trust your nose – if garlic smells unpleasant or rotten, it should not be eaten.

Extending Garlic Storage Life

If you find yourself with garlic that is nearing the end of its shelf life, there are a couple of tricks that may extend the storage duration a bit longer:


Moving the garlic from the pantry to the refrigerator can add a few weeks of shelf life. The cold will help slow sprouting and spoilage.


Chopped, peeled garlic cloves that have been frozen in an airtight container can keep for 4-6 months. This makes it easy to pull out prepped cloves whenever needed.

Infuse in Oil

Place peeled garlic cloves in a sterilized glass jar and cover with olive oil. Refrigerated infused garlic oil keeps for 2-3 months. The oil takes on the flavor and can be used for cooking.


With proper harvesting, curing, and storage methods, garlic bulbs can be kept fresh for use up to 8 months. Store bulbs intact and unpeeled in breathable containers in a cool, dry, and dark place. Refrigeration reduces the lifespan to 5-6 months. Signs like sprouting, mold, and shriveling indicate garlic is past its prime. Freezing chopped garlic or infusing in oil can also lengthen its shelf life. Storing garlic properly helps reduce waste and makes this flavorful ingredient available year-round.

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