Let's get something straight: nothing can ever substitute the flavour of raw garlic. That being said, sometimes preserving garlic makes sense. Perhaps you have an overflow of garlic in your kitchen, are prepping ingredients for a future meal or have decided to try something new. It only makes sense you learn how to preserve garlic so it's always handy when you need it.
There is one particular method we prefer above all others and that is freezing, which will extend its shelf life. Frozen garlic requires minimal work and keeps well for up to six months.
How to preserve garlic in the freezer
First, peel your garlic and decide whether you'd rather freeze it whole or chopped. Whole garlic cloves may be frozen in small freezer bags and will be a bit mushy when thawed.
It's ideal to freeze chopped garlic in an ice tray designated for that particular use. After the garlic has frozen solid, pop it out of the tray and store it in a freezer bag. It's a good idea to double bag it to keep strong odours away from other foods.
How to store fresh garlic
In the short term, it is possible to store fresh garlic in the fridge if you plan to use it quickly. Having said that, cool conditions tend to promote sprouting. While this isn’t harmful, it shows that the garlic is no longer at peak quality. If this is all you have to hand, you can cut off the sprouting part and continue to use the rest of the garlic, but its flavour potential may well be limited. Another option for storing fresh garlic in your fridge is to pickle it in vinegar, something that retains the fresh taste and doesn’t result in the garlic being overwhelmed by the vinegar due to the natural oils contained in the vegetable.
How to preserve garlic in oil – a warning
Garlic and oil can be toxic if left at room temperature or stored in a refrigerator kept above 40°F. That's because garlic's low acidity and the oil's lack of oxygen contribute to the development of Clostridium botulinum, a deadly bacteria.
That being said, if you'd like to store garlic in olive oil it's best to keep it in the freezer. One way of doing it would be to puree garlic using a two-to-one ratio of oil to garlic. Freeze it as mentioned above and, if you like, blend it with a touch of salt for extra flavour.
How to preserve dehydrated garlic
Choose the freshest cloves, and separate and peel them before cutting in half lengthways. Follow the instructions on your dehydrator before packing the garlic in an airtight container and storing it at room temperature or in the freezer.
This article was updated on 27/07/2023.