What Are Garlic Keepers, and Do You Need One?

updated Jan 24, 2021
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I keep garlic in a wooden bowl, along with onions, on my countertop. But just like you, I’ve seen those cute little containers designed specifically for storing garlic and wondered if they actually work and, therefore, if I should buy one. It’s officially Garlic Week here at Kitchn, so I figured there was no better time to look into things!

What Is a Garlic Keeper?

Garlic keepers are special containers that have perforations that allow for airflow. Because garlic deteriorates and can mold with moisture, the idea is that more airflow will keep garlic drier, thereby extending its shelf life. I’ve included two popular ones below (these also happen to be the ones I used in my testing),

1. Henry Watson Garlic Cellar

This charming container is made of porous terracotta and has several large holes for that air circulation. It’s large enough to hold about four heads. You can also pop it in the dishwasher when it needs a cleaning. 

2. RSVP International Garlic Keeper

This garlic keeper has a ceramic body that’s punctuated with holes and a bamboo lid. It can hold about three heads of garlic and the manufacturer also recommends storing shallots in it. One drawback: This garlic keeper does need to be hand-washed.

Do Garlic Keepers Work?

To find out how well they work, I purchased two different garlic keepers — the two listed above! — and a whole lot of garlic heads. I placed two heads in each garlic keeper, in my go-to wooden bowl, and in a small plastic container on my countertop. Additionally, I stored two in a dark cabinet, and two in a produce bag in the crisper compartment of my fridge.

Credit: Sharon Franke
Looking good as gold!

After five weeks, what did I find out? Well, I learned that I don’t actually need a garlic keeper. The bulbs in the garlic keepers didn’t sprout, mold, or rot, but they didn’t really out-perform the ones that sat in my beloved wooden bowl.

Credit: Sharon Franke
There was no difference in freshness between garlic stored in a bowl and garlic stored in a garlic keeper.

However, being the lover of all things organized, I did really like having a dedicated place to keep my garlic. And both of the garlic keepers looked very attractive on my countertop. And because some of the garlic I stored via other methods did go south, I also learned where not to stash garlic.

Here are the lessons I learned during my Great Garlic Storage Experiment.

DOs for Storing Garlic

  • Do make sure air can circulate around garlic heads. If you use a closed container, make sure it’s made of a material that’s porous, like terracotta, and doesn’t have a tight seal. 
  • Do leave the skins on. This may go without saying, but garlic will start to dry out if the skins are removed.
Credit: Sharon Franke
Behold, mold! This garlic was kept in an airtight container.

DON’Ts for Storing Garlic

  • Don’t keep garlic in a tightly closed environment. This is too moist for garlic and may cause it to mold (like above!). If you do, when you open the container, you’ll be greeted with bad garlic and a smell that can knock you out.
  • Don’t stash garlic in the fridge. While it won’t spoil, it will become slightly limp and lose some of its pungency. 

Do have a garlic keeper? Where do you store your garlic?