When it comes to some of the most common ingredients that are used for food, there are countless different ways that you can store and take care of your food.
Of course, the easiest way to make use of the ingredients you have will be to cook them and eat them, but if you want to make sure that you always have the food you need for recipes on the fly, you will want to make sure that you are storing the food you aren’t currently using.
This is especially important with foods that have a tendency to spoil quickly, such as meats and produce.
Produce is known for spoiling much faster than other types of food, such as grains. Because of this, you will often need to make sure that you aren’t buying more food than you will know what to do with, as this can result in you not having enough time to make use of it all before it goes bad.
However, if you find that your produce is on a good sale and you can purchase a lot of it at once, there are plenty of ways that you can make your produce last.
One of the most important things that you will need to think about will be how you are storing your produce. The way that you store your produce to make it last as long as possible is going to be dependent on the condition of the produce that you are storing, as well as a few other factors.
For instance, produce that has a high natural moisture content is going to go bad far quicker than “dry” produce.
If there is any produce that is used in almost every well-seasoned meal, it is going to be garlic. Garlic is a very common addition to meals all across the world as it has a strong and delightful flavor.
If you find that you are planning to make more than a few dishes that make use of garlic, you may decide that it is worth investing in a bulk amount of garlic at the store. The one problem that this can lead to is that your garlic may begin to go bad if you do not get around to using it quick enough.
Typically, garlic will last a fair amount of time as long as you do not separate the cloves or peel the garlic. The thin, papery skin may not seem as if it does much, but the truth is that it helps to keep bacteria, moisture, and other problematic elements from affecting the “meat” of the plant.
One can think of it quite like human skin; the skin itself is relatively thin and easy to break, but without it, people would be considerably more delicate.
As soon as you remove the skin from the garlic and begin peeling it, the amount of time that it can sit out will decrease dramatically. It is optimal that you only peel garlic when you are planning to cook with it within the next few hours for a meal, but there are situations where you may accidentally peel too much garlic. You can’t necessarily put the garlic’s skin back on.
First things first, you will want to have a good idea of the timeframe you are working with. This will help you get a good idea of whether you can benefit greatly from using these methods to store your peeled garlic.
After all, if you are planning on using the peeled garlic in a matter of days, then you won’t need to worry as much about storage.
How Long Should It Last? How Can You Tell If It Has Gone Bad?
On average, peeled garlic isn’t going to last that long once you remove that protective skin around the cloves. Without any intervention, peeled garlic will usually last a few days on the counter.
In addition to that, it will have a much higher chance of picking up some form of bacteria when the fresh garlic is touching the dirty countertop surface.
By comparison, a bulb of garlic that you have purchased from the store can easily last for three to five months, sitting on your countertop at room temperature. When you remove the skin from a clove of garlic, you easily reduce its shelf life to a fraction of what it should be, which is something that you will need to take into account when you begin peeling the garlic.
It can be hard to tell when your garlic is beginning to go bad, as it is already known for having a strong smell to it. More often than not, you are going to have to rely on senses other than smell to determine whether your garlic has reached the end of its shelf life.
If you are looking to see if your garlic has gone bad, you are going to want to feel it. Garlic that has reached the end of its time will usually be much softer to the touch, especially near the center. If it is sprouting green roots, then this is also another sign that your garlic is ready to be thrown away.
Those green roots aren’t necessarily bad for you, but they add a bitter taste to the garlic that most people will not appreciate. In addition to the green roots, garlic that is going bad will change in color from the off-white that most people expect to a darker and deeper yellow hue.
Storing Your Peeled Garlic
The way that you are going to go about storing your peeled garlic is going to depend heavily on the condition that it is in.
Peeled garlic that has not yet been cooked is going to be stored in a different way than garlic that has already been cooked to some extent. The way that you are going to store your garlic is also going to depend on how long you need it to last.
Some methods of storing garlic can last around a week and are good for when you are planning a meal in the near future, while other methods of storing garlic will last for months at a time, making them more suitable for making a large garlic investment last.
By far, the easiest way for you to store your garlic is going to be by making use of the fridge. People will often use their fridges to store different foods, as the cooler temperature of the fridge is a lot harsher to most types of bacteria that you would find in the kitchen.
If you are planning on making use of the peeled garlic in a matter of days, then storing the garlic in the fridge will be the best option for you. You will want to take some standard plastic containers that are refrigerator-safe and then you will want to put the peeled garlic cloves into those containers.
You will also need to make sure that your fridge operates at a relatively low temperature, hovering around 32 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit (between 0 and 5 degrees Celsius). Any temperatures higher than this will still be a suitable temperature for garlic to try and sprout roots.
As long as your fridge meets these conditions, you can simply put the containers of peeled garlic into your fridge without a second thought. Doing this will help your garlic last for approximately one week’s worth of time.
Do keep in mind that you should check back in on the garlic regularly to ensure that it is not going bad while you keep it in the fridge. Aside from that, storing your garlic in the fridge is one of the easiest and most straightforward methods of taking care of your peeled garlic.
Putting the Garlic in Oil
If you do not have the space in your fridge to put containers of peeled garlic, you can also consider storing your garlic in another kind of liquid.
Depending on what the liquid of your choice is, this can mean that you will be able to store your garlic either on your countertop, or in the fridge but inside a container that is easier to work with.
The premise of this storage method is that the type of liquid that you use to get the job done will act as a natural preservative agent, keeping your garlic in good condition for a longer period of time than it would otherwise last.
Other times, these methods can simply be a way for you to infuse flavor while also being able to store the garlic in your fridge so that it does not end up rotting away on your counter.
If you are still okay with storing your garlic in the fridge, you can consider using some olive oil to help with that process. Peeled garlic submerged in olive oil should be in your fridge for no more than four days, or else you will run the risk of the garlic no longer being safe to eat.
This method can also work for storing your garlic in the freezer and will allow your garlic to last for several months before it becomes affected by the harsh environment of the freezer.
As you might be able to imagine, the method for storing garlic is going to be to take an air-tight container, some olive oil, and your garlic and to mix it all together. The oil should just barely cover the tops of the peeled garlic, so that you do not waste the oil that you are using.
While olive oil tends to be the most common type of oil that people use for storing peeled garlic, you can use just about any kind of oil or flavored oil.
Keep in mind that with the oil method, if you leave your garlic and oil container on the countertop for too long, the environment of that container is going to become perfect for botulism, which is a deadly bacteria that can permanently paralyze or kill you. It is important to prepare your foods properly, and this is included in that process.
On that same note, another liquid that you can use when storing your peeled garlic cloves is wine or vinegar. Both wine and vinegar have enough similar properties to them that they are more or less interchangeable for this process, depending on taste as the deciding factor.
For the type of wine you should be using, it is recommended that a dry white or red wine will get the job done best. Wine vinegars can also work well for this.
This method is similar to the oil method, with the main difference being the liquid that you are adding to the garlic. You will want to find an air-tight container, put the peeled garlic into that container, and then pour the undiluted vinegar or wine into that container.
This provides an acidic enough environment that botulism bacteria will not be able to thrive. Depending on whether you really want to flavor your garlic, you can add seasonings to the liquid that the peeled garlic is submerged in.
Doing this will give your garlic about four months in the refrigerator, as well as a tasty, garlic-flavored liquid that you can incorporate into just about any meal that you would put garlic into.
If you end up keeping your garlic in this container for more than four months, it will still be safe to eat, but the flavor will be altered. It may even be altered enough to turn you away from wanting to eat any of the mix.
As with the previous mixture, this should never be stored in a room temperature environment longer than you would have the container out during the cooking process.
While the acidic environment you created will make your mixture safe against botulism, it becomes far more inviting to all different kinds of molds that would want to find a home in the tasty garlic concoction you have made.
In the end, there are more than a few different ways that you can go about storing your peeled garlic that will not only keep the garlic in good condition for as long as you need, but it will also mean that you can add some flavors to the garlic as well, allowing for a more flavorful meal that you choose to cook with that special garlic.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.