How long does garlic last? Does garlic go bad? Find out the signs of spoiled garlic and tips on how to properly store garlic.


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Garlic is one of the most popular must-haves in every household– unless you’re in the royal household of the UK. Queen Elizabeth II can’t stand garlic in anything. Used in many recipes – meals, bread, dressings, and also known for its ability to reduce cholesterol and combat heart disease, garlic is proven worthy of a place in your kitchen. So, how long does garlic last?

The shelf life of garlic depends on how and where you store it. Properly stored fresh and whole garlic can last up to five months in the pantry and 12 months in the freezer.

Garlic is a member of the amaryllis family with other cooking regulars onions, leeks, shallots, and chives. Aside from cooking, garlic also has many amazing benefits. You can now buy garlic as the usual fresh and raw whole bulb, refrigerated garlic cloves, roasted garlic and jarred minced garlic.

Storing garlic is very common, so you should know the signs and effects of spoiled garlic and how you can maximize the shelf life of garlic.

How Long Does Garlic Last?


How Long Does Fresh Whole Bulb of Garlic Last?

Like many vegetables you buy, fresh and raw garlic does not have any best-by date or expiration date. The shelf life of garlic can go as long as a year or as short as a few days depending on how you store it.

A properly stored whole bulb of garlic can last up to three to five months in the pantry. Once the bulb is broken, you can expect the quality of your garlic to decrease rather quickly. Individual unpeeled garlic cloves can last for seven to ten days in the pantry.

How Long Does Processed Garlic Last?

Peeled and chopped garlic usually stay good for about a week in the refrigerator and 10 to 12 months in the freezer, same with frozen cooked garlic. Processed garlic available on the market, like frozen garlic cloves, dried garlic, powdered garlic, minced and those in jars usually have an expiration date on their label. Most of the time these best-by dates are accurate and should be followed. Typically, a prepared jar of chopped or minced garlic can last up to three months in the fridge.

However, commercial jarred garlic usually have preservatives such as citric acid to give it a longer shelf life. That’s why we encourage you to try making your own minced garlic at home and soak it in extra virgin olive oil, which can last for 2-3 weeks in your fridge.

homemade minced garlic

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Signs of Bad Garlic

Know if your garlic has gone bad with three easy steps – look, smell and feel.

1. Look

Spoiled garlic forms brown spots on the cloves and turns from the usual white to a more yellow or brown color. Another thing is the green roots forming in the center of the clove. These are new sprouts forming. Though not harmful these roots taste extremely bitter and should be removed before cooking.

2. Smell

Garlic has its own universally known scent– spicy, pungent and mellow. If your garlic starts to lose its distinct smell or have a sour scent, chances are it has already gone bad. It is best to get rid of that garlic bulb to avoid contaminating your other bulbs.

3. Feel.

Good garlic should feel firm to the touch. Garlic becomes soft over time. If your garlic already feels mushy then better disregard that one already.

Side Effects of Bad Garlic

Consuming bad garlic can cause botulism. Foodborne botulism is extremely rare but can be serious and potentially fatal.

Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that causes botulism, forms normally inactive spores that can be found in low-acid vegetables like garlic. In certain conditions, these spores may become active. Low acidity plus lack of oxygen, moisture, and temperature can cause the development of botulism. Garlic has low acidity and if not stored properly can develop active toxic spores.

Botulism affects the nerves connected to the eyes, mouth, face, and throat. Symptoms of botulism caused by garlic include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, double vision and difficulty in swallowing and breathing. If you consume spoiled garlic and experience these symptoms, see your doctor immediately.

How to Properly Store Garlic

Follow the following tips to maximize the quality and shelf life of your garlic bulbs.

  1. Store in a dry and dark place. Light and moisture can cause the growth of mold in garlic.
    Store your garlic in room temperature. At high temperature, the quality and shelf life of your garlic will decline fast. Refrigerating your garlic gives it a longer shelf life but doing so can cause sprouts to develop quickly.
  2. Use containers that allow good air circulation. Store your garlic in a wire-mesh basket, a paper bag, or a garlic keeper with holes.
  3. Freezing can alter the texture and flavor of garlic but can give it a much longer shelf life. If freezing, make sure you wrap the whole bulb unpeeled garlic in a plastic wrapper or aluminum foil.

The following tips would maximize the shelf life of your peeled garlic:

  1. Spread your peeled garlic cloves on a baking sheet and freeze them for 20 minutes. After that, transfer the garlic cloves to an airtight container or freezer bag and keep frozen.
  2. Store minced and chopped garlic in an airtight container or jar and cover with olive oil. Keep in refrigerator.
  3. You can also keep chopped and minced garlic frozen if you don’t want to use oil. Keep chopped and minced garlic in an airtight container or wrap up tightly with freezer plastic wrap.

There’s no doubt garlic is one of the most popular vegetables and spice among households. Garlic is acknowledged for its many proven health benefits. It also has a long shelf life making it more ideal for stocking up. Looking for more recipe ideas? Try these street-smart recipes with your garlic.

Garlic Pull-Apart Bread
Zesty Garlic Almond Green Beans
Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Crispy Garlic And Almond
Garlic Herb Hasselback Potatoes
Spicy Garlic Pepper Baked Shrimp
Garlic Turkey Enchiladas
Garlic Dressing Spinach

How long does garlic last? Does garlic go bad? Find out the signs of spoiled garlic and tips on how to properly store garlic.

Free eBook


Sign up and get instant access to my free eBook. Learn the shelf life of 21 specific foods, the signs of spoiled foods, and how to store them properly to keep them fresh longer.


29 thoughts on “How Long Does Garlic Last? 3 Signs of Bad Garlic and Tips on Proper Storage”

  1. My mom just minced some fresh garlic and put it in a small Mason jar.. Stores it in the fridge. No oil added. Would this be okay for safe storage to use?

    1. Hi Peggy, please let your mom know that adding oil to homemade minced garlic is important as the oil protects the garlic from the air, helping to minimize bacteria growth and preserve its flavor and color. Be sure to always keep it in the fridge when not using it. Hope that helps.

  2. I just pulled some garlic bulbs out of storage (about nine months) and when I went to peel them each cloves peelings were cracked open. they still look good but maybe a little dry. I smashed a clove open with a wide blade knife and they are still quite moist and very aromatic. wondering if they are still good to use. I am about to start putting up about 20 gallons of dill pickles and love to put a half dozen cloves in each gallon. a few have a small sprout developing but otherwise, they look and smell great. Your thoughts please.

    1. Hi Joe, if your garlic bulbs look, smell, and feel fine to you (based on your description, I believe they are), I think you can still use them.

  3. Our power went out for a day in our fridge. Would the jarred garlic still be edible.

    1. I had 5 of those myself. I planted them in small pots in my house. Three of them sprouted, but only one survived. The two that died looked like they were going to work out, but then just keeled over for some reason. The one survivor has been planted out in my garden and appears to be doing well. Hope this helps.

  4. i came across soft n brown one clove of garlic n i cooked it with other firms , i hope it wont be harm

  5. I bought 2 bags of commercially produced, sealed organic garlic cloves over the winter and forgot to use them. I just opened one of the bags and the cloves are not dry, not discolored and not slimy but the smell is a tad more acrid than normal. Since it’s been months, I assume better safe than sorry and toss them?

    1. Eating raw garlic is very common in Northern China. As long as your garlic is fresh, I don’t see why you should stop.

    1. Hi Mary, it sounds like your garlic has bacteria on it that has multiplied. It was most likely inoculated by the hands that peeled it. If you are in doubt, I wouldn’t recommend eating it.

      1. How about if you just harvested the garlic, and it is pink streaked, when you look at the cloves themselves? Like I literally just harvested my garlic, and the garlic cloves are pink.

  6. I keep my cured garlic bulbs for almost a year in my pantry. And that’s only because I ran out. Keep it dry and out of the light. The cloves last a few weeks in a ceramic “garlic keeper”.
    Those jars of chopped garlic are disgusting. Just get a head as needed.

  7. I cooked a sauce with garlic that is obviously bad after reading this article when do symptoms start to occur if any.

  8. I added pure raw honey
    Apple cider vinegar
    Store 24 hour dark cupboard. Garlic turned green. Is this ok to eat

    1. When garlic turns green, it’s an indication that the garlic has begun to age. It’s ok to eat but it tastes bitter.

  9. Great and interesting article. Thank you. I just bought a very large plastic jar of minced California garlic. Am wondering what would be the safest way to store it? Freeze in small ice cube trays? Then transfer to plastic bag to keep in freezer? I was going to also put some of the minced garlic in a smaller jar to keep in fridge for a month or so, thinking of using a cleaned Gulden’s mustard squeeze jar, for ease of use and also I find that containers with smaller openings keep food fresher. I got really concerned when read botulism, pls advise safest procedure, container, type of storage. Original container contains citric acid, doesn’t say how much. Thank you.

    1. Hi Carol, thanks for your comment. I’d suggest you transfer the garlic out of the plastic jar into a glass container. Freezing them in small ice cube trays might not be a bad idea. I’ve never tried it, though. You could also add a little balsamic vinegar in order to keep the garlic longer.

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