How Long Can You Store Garlic On The Counter?

Garlic adds life to recipes, whether you're adding it to an old favorite like mashed potatoes or letting it shine as the star ingredient in garlic soup. The Spruce Eats states that garlic is a member of the lily family, like onions, shallots, and leeks. 

Today, most of the garlic sold in America is grown in China, but it's widely used in cuisines around the world. However, it isn't just valued for its flavor. The plant has been used medicinally throughout history, according to Healthline. Even today, the vegetable is considered exceptionally nutritious and noted for its health benefits.

Considering that different types of produce have wildly different shelf lives, it can sometimes be difficult to judge how long your fruits and veggies will last. According to Martha Stewart, root vegetables like onions, potatoes, and garlic tend to last the longest if stored properly. 

But exactly how long does garlic last, and how can you tell if it has gone bad?

Garlic lasts a surprisingly long time

Garlic is a remarkably resilient vegetable: Healthline states that, if stored properly, unpeeled garlic will last up to six months. Proper storage means keeping your cloves in a dry, well-ventilated space, ideally between 60º F and 65º F. To help keep your garlic fresh, you can use a basket, a garlic keeper, or a covered bowl with holes for ventilation. You can also freeze it, though frozen garlic isn't as tasty as fresh.

Counterintuitively, experts agree that keeping unpeeled garlic in the fridge is a bad idea. Gilroy Garlic explains why you shouldn't keep your garlic cloves refrigerated: In nature, garlic sprouts in spring, so, once you remove the cloves from the refrigerator, the change in temperature will make them sprout in a few days and ruin the taste. If you do decide to store garlic in the fridge, make sure to eat it as soon as you take it out.

The Produce for Better Health Foundation states that you should also avoid storing garlic and onions near potatoes. While it won't harm the garlic, the strong taste of garlic can seep into the potatoes and throw off their taste.

Garlic goes bad quickly when you peel it

While unpeeled garlic can last for months, peeled or chopped garlic is another story. Unlike unpeeled garlic bulbs, peeled garlic should be kept refrigerated. In the refrigerator, it will last roughly a week. 

While the pre-peeled garlic you find in grocery stores may seem tempting and convenient, you should avoid it unless you're planning on cooking for a crowd. It has likely been sitting around for a while already, and you'll probably have trouble using it up before it starts to go bad. 

Chopped garlic, on the other hand, will last only a day in the refrigerator, although you extend its life by another day or two by covering it in olive oil.

Now that you know how to store it, how do you tell if garlic has gone bad? Look for sprouts or brown spots. You should also be able to tell from the texture and color. Give your garlic cloves a light squeeze, and throw them away if they feel soft. If you peel the garlic and notice a yellowish color, you should probably toss it, too. Fresh garlic should be white.