How Long Does Garlic Last and How to Tell If It Has Gone Bad

updated Jun 4, 2020
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The ways we love garlic are nearly too many to count — garlic butter gilds everything it touches, garlic bread completes meals, and what would hummus and pesto be with a little garlic. Stocking up on this pungent bulb is kitchen common place, because you really don’t want to be without this culinary gold and it lasts a really long time when stored properly.

Buying a big bag of garlic heads might make you curious about how long garlic lasts and when you’ll know if it is no longer good to cook with. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered, here’s everything you need to know about the shelf-life of garlic and when to toss it in the compost.

How Long Does Garlic Last?

Believe it or not, stored at a cool room temperature with good ventilation whole garlic heads can last up to six-months. Once you’ve pulled cloves from their whole head time is ticking. Single cloves will last about 3 weeks as long as their papery skin is intact. After peeling, fresh garlic cloves cloves should be stored in the fridge where they’ll last about a week. Minced, sliced, or otherwise cut cloves should only be kept for a day. You can extend the shelf life of peeled and cut garlic by covering them in oil or cooking them.

How to Tell If Your Garlic has Gone Bad

Give your heads of garlic a tight squeeze to check their freshness. Yes, really! Fresh heads are hard and tight, while older bulbs will be soft and pliable. Yellowed cloves are also a sign that your garlic is less than fresh — though you can still use your garlic if it yellowed or beginning to sprout.

Is It Unsafe to Eat Bad Garlic?

Obviously, you don’t want to eat moldy or mushy garlic, but sprouts cloves or even those that have browned or yellowed spots can still be used. Their taste might be slightly off, but removing the green sprout or trimming browned spots will make older cloves usable and keep them out of the trash.