Preserving garlic by any method is not a substitute for fresh, but it does have its own charms and advantages, especially if you grow it yourself and have a bumper crop!
Here we'll explore how to preserve garlic: freezing, drying, garlic vinegar, garlic salt, garlic oil, and refrigerator garlic pickles.
Different methods of preserving garlic lend themselves to their own culinary uses, so explore them all and see which ones best suit your needs. There are six excellent methods for preserving garlic.
Before we examine the specific preservation methods, I want to emphasize that preserving garlic in oil is not safe unless the garlic oil is frozen.
Garlic is a low-acid food and oil provides an oxygen-free environment, a combination that allows the growth of the bacteria Clostridium botulism, which causes botulism.
However, if you follow the methods in this article for freezing garlic-and-oil mixtures and keep them frozen until needed, it is safe.
Here are a few useful gadgets for garlic lovers, that will help with peeling, mincing, storage, and the like:
- Tube-Shaped Silicone Garlic Peeler
- NexTrend 3rd Generation Clear Garlic Twist
- Norpro Large Garlic Baker
- Norpro 5-Inch Ceramic Garlic Keeper
- OXO Steel Garlic Press, Stainless
Perhaps the easiest way to preserve garlic is to freeze it. Just peel the cloves and place them in freezer bags in the freezer. Easier yet, simply place the unpeeled garlic in freezer bags and remove as needed.
With both these methods, the cloves become a little mushy when they are thawed, but their flavor remains good.
Another method for freezing garlic is to chop it and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. With this method, you can simply grate or break off small amounts of chopped garlic as needed, which is helpful for cooks who often must quickly throw a meal together.
You can also freeze garlic that has been pureed in oil. This is nice because the oil keeps the mixture from freezing solid and it can be spooned out as needed, another help for busy cooks.
To make frozen garlic oil puree, place one part peeled garlic cloves in a blender or food processor along with two parts olive oil. Puree the mixture, then immediately transfer it to a freezer container. Cover the container and place it in the freezer.
Do not store the garlic oil puree at room temperature or in the refrigerator because the mixture can support the growth of Clostridium botulism bacteria.
Peel the garlic, making sure to discard any bruised or damaged cloves. Cut the cloves in half lengthwise, place them in an electric food dehydrator, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying. (This Hamilton Beach dehydrator is a good, inexpensive option.)
If you do not have a food dehydrator, you can dry the garlic in your oven. Make drying racks by stretching cheesecloth over the oven racks and securing it with toothpicks. Place the garlic on the racks and turn the oven to 140 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours, then lower it to 130 degrees until the garlic is completely dry and crisp.
To make garlic vinegar, take a bottle of white or red wine vinegar and drop in either whole or chopped garlic. Use as much garlic as you wish, as long as it is completely submerged in the vinegar.
Store your garlic vinegar in the refrigerator and use both the vinegar and the garlic in salad dressings or any dish that calls for both vinegar and garlic.
Garlic vinegar will keep, refrigerated, for about four months. If mold develops, discard the mixture.
Place dried garlic in a blender and process it until it turns to powder. Add four parts sea salt for each one part garlic powder and process for just a second or two to combine the two ingredients.
Do not process the garlic salt too long because it will cake. Store the garlic salt in an airtight glass jar.
Fresh garlic and oil are a dangerous combination if left at room temperature. Because of garlic’s low acidity and oil’s lack of oxygen, they can cause botulism toxin to develop. However, peeled cloves of garlic can be added to oil and stored in the freezer for several months.
Commercially prepared garlic in oil contains a preservative to increase the acidity of the mixture and keep it safe. To make garlic-flavored oil at home, add dehydrated garlic to olive oil in a wide mouth jar, screw on the lid, and place the jar in the refrigerator.
If the olive oil turns solid, just spoon it out. Be careful, however, to always use a dry spoon.
Refrigerator Garlic Pickles
Loosely fill a glass jar with peeled garlic cloves. Add enough red or white wine vinegar to cover the garlic and then add about one tablespoon of sea salt per cup of vinegar.
Dried (not fresh) herbs such as red pepper flakes, bay leaves, and oregano may be added to taste.
Cover the jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake to distribute the salt and herbs. Refrigerator garlic pickles will keep almost indefinitely in the refrigerator, as long as the garlic remains submerged in the vinegar.
We hope you've enjoyed learning the various methods of how to preserve garlic and welcome more of your comments, below.
Vicki Chelf is the author of Vicki's Vegan Kitchen* and other healthy cookbooks. Visit her on the web at Vicki's Vegan Kitchen.
I just came across your site when I was looking up my garlic question. I puree garlic in bulk ( the Sams club size botte) with a little salt, put them in small freezer bags and freeze them to use. Recently I found that the 'frozen' garlic in the freezer remains in a semiliquid form ( soft sticky pulp, not frozen) even when the other items in the freezer are adequately frozen! Why does this happen? Should I be concerned about botulism?
Sam, this is a good question. This is a guest article written by another author, so I will ask her to respond here as soon as she can. Thanks for stopping by!
Victoria Renoux says
I believe it is probably the salt that keeps the garlic from being frozen hard. Think of the salt sprinkled over icy roads in wintertime to melt the ice. Salt is a preservative, and the freezer is obviously cold enough to freeze other foods, so it feels safe to me, but I am a cook, not a scientist.
Thanks Nava and Victoria for your replies. I have cooked with this garlic and had no issues ( medically), though my food gets thoroughly cooked when spiced with garlic!
I would think that garlic could be refrigerated (or home canned) in citric acid and water. I mixed 1 t. of citric acid in 8 oz. of water and using a pH strip, it registered a solid 1 which is extremely acidic. What does everyone think of this? Would it work?
Richard W says
Re: Canning garlic and acidity.
I suggest that you look up UC (University) of Davis "preserving garlic"- it explains that it it EXTREMELY difficult to home can garlic.
I decided against the home canning method and am keeping it at 33 degrees with a pH of 1. I have the pH strips and am adding citric acid as needed to keep it at this extremely acid level. I just can't stand the idea of wine flavored or vinegar flavored garlic...but a "lemony" favor is far less objectionable. If I'm still alive in 6 months we'll know it's effective!
Judith Smith says
I have been chopping homegrown garlic and covering with EVOO then storing in fridge for use. We usually use it in a week or two and I repeat the process with fresh garlic from our stored heads, as the jar gets empty. We spoon it out of jar, oil and garlic together for use. Am I putting my family at risk doing this?
Judith, I'm not the garlic expert, so I'll get the author of this article to answer your question. Stay tuned...
Victoria Renoux says
I think if it is in the refrigerator, and used quickly it may be ok, but frankly, I wouldn't take the risk. Why not add some salt, and vinegar, or place it in the freezer? It will not freeze solid, and not be much different than in the fridge.
i live in mijas publo southern spain
most restaurants in this part of spain
just put olive oil and garlic in bottles and leave it on the tables at room temperature (can be +35c) untill it is used
i am sure this is not safe but after 12 years i have never heard of any problems!!
John Cowan says
Have just harvested & dried this year's garlic crop (South Coast NSW) & am currently plaiting like a madman! However I will have lots left over that is not suitable suitable for plaiting & therefore will be looking to preserve some for that short period of each year between the old lot sprouting - Septemberish - & harvesting the next crop - mid to late Novemberish. Has anyone tried preserving peeled garlic cloves in brine? Did it work? What proprtion of salt?
John, sorry for the delayed response. I've just gotten so behind on responding this month. I'll contact the author of this post and see if she can weigh in on your question of preserving garlic cloves in brine. Stay tuned ...
Well...it's been 7 months and I'm still alive. The best method I've found is indeed using citric acid and maintaining the pH of 1 in plain water refrigerated. The garlic remains firm and the perfect color. Unfortunately I just ran out...so next May I will have to put up a half gallon instead of a quart. It held it's flavor perfectly and was much better than any store bought. Runs a close second to fresh.
Kris Graham says
can someone give me the recipe for using citric acid and water? I have a lot of peeled garlic that I thought I was going to cook, but I know that I will never finish it all.
Even better than pickling is to culture the garlic cloves (like traditional saurkraut, with whey from yogurt or other culture medium). It is a very old and more nutritious way of preservation. Needs refrigeration after fermentation.
I saute garlic in olive oil and then put in jar with more olive oil and refrigerate. How does this sound?
Barb, this sounds really good and delicious, though I have no idea how long this would last. Likely it would be used up quickly, as it goes with everything.
I placed a lot of peeled garlic in a glass jar with olive oil covering it in the refrigerator for about a couple weeks now. I just looked up how to preseve garlic. I'm afraid to use it now. Will it still be good if it has been in the refrigerator with only the oil?
Martha, since it has only been a couple of weeks, and refrigerated, it should be OK, though this method is specified more for freezing. I can't say, though, with 100% certainty, so if you feel uneasy about it, don't use them.
Thank you very much for this list of methods. I found it very helpfull. Just one point that might be improved... Botulism is caused by Clostridium botulinum (not by C. butulism).
Thanks for this valuable information, Leonardo.
Yesterday just made a larger than normal batch minced garlic and covered in olive/sunflower oil and refrigerated to give to some friends. After reading, now nervous,should I recall? Can I now add salt or vinegar or both to the refrigerated batch at this stage and still use?
Hello — why don't you advise your friends to use this batch within a week, and if it is too much to use in such a short time, to freeze small portions. This should be fine.
I noticed that supermarkets have garlic in jars that seem to be in water,and they are on the store shelves.how sre these preserved, they seem to have a really fresh flavor.
Hi Ralph — the garlic in jars in supermarkets has some sort of preservative to keep it fresh. One that is used is phosphoric acid, the same ingredient that's used in cola drinks. While it's probably safe in minute amounts, phosphoric acid is not considered a healthy ingredient and too much can lead to side effects. Before you consider buying, see what is used as a preservative and do a quick search on it!
I'm addicted to garlic stuffed olives.I realized I like the garlic better than the olives. Would it work to buy cheap bottled olives and put the garlic in the olive brine? Would it work for pickles too? Should I heat the brine? Blanch the garlic? Any ideas.
Also, the place I buy the stuffed olives has gotten rid of the brine & covered in olive oil. After reading about not storing garlic & olive oil is this olive garlic & olive oil combo safe?
naomi chumo says
thank you guys for all your comments. They are all very informative
Hello, what about lacto fermentation. Myself and others in our off grid community have been lacto fermenting a lot of our veggies as we believe it is excellent for our stomachs. We put 2 tablespoons sea salt to one quart of water . This works well. You can do a search to find wonderful recipes.
how long can u preserve garlic bn it in oil, salt or vinegar
Debbie, sorry for the lag in approving your comment, it went under my radar. Thank you so much for this suggestion, which sounds very simple and effective.
Joyce, can you clarify your question? It's hard to understand what you mean. Thanks!
When freezing garlic, how long can it be kept in the freezer?
Where can I find ph test strips thta measure to a 1. most start at 4.5?
Hi Mel -- Amazon has a bunch of choices, though I wouldn't know which to recommend: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=ph+test+strips
Wyatt, this is a really good question, but I couldn't find a straight answer (and I couldn't reach the author of this article). Like all fresh foods, probably the sooner used, the better. My semi-educated guess is 1 to 3 months. If you find anything more specific, can you come back and post it here? Thanks!
I am roasting my garlic cloves drizzled with EVOO and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Can I freeze them when cooled for later use in dishes?
I have harvested a lot of garlic this summer and have read all the above comments on preserving, I am going to try the puree and oil method and freeze in ice cube trays so I can pop a small or large amount straight into my cooking, I have in the past simply put the garlic into olive oil with peppers and herbs, but will stop this method now.
Eve, this sounds like a good way to store garlic in the freezer. Just make sure that there is as little air as possible in your container. My best guess it that these will keep well like this for 3 months.
Lorna, this sounds like a good plan; as I said in the comment above to Eve, just make sure that you cover this in such a way that there is as little air as possible, and that no air can get in, to avoid freezer burn.
Hi all I am going to try several methods of preserving garlic as has been described but will vacuum pack for the fridge and freezer methods.
Green Thumbalina says
After peeling my freshly harvested garlic and then minceing, it was placed in a steralized jar and put in the fridge, no salt, no oil..... I used this very large jar of garlic, over a period of 18 months, whenever fresh cloves were not available, this was always used cooked in dishes. All members of the family and visitors alike are still alive and very healthy....
I am almost 40. My whole life I saw my mom and aunts buying garlic by bulk and making into puree with canola oil. Then put it into a glass container and stored in the refrigerator. I am doing the same but using EVOO instead the canola. We all are very alive and healthy. I am not saying it is the right thing to do, I j ust wanted you guys to know it.
philip litrel says
After experimenting with most of the mentioned methods of preserving garlic I have ended up just roasting fresh peeled cloves with evoo and salt & pepper and refrigerating. When I need garlic just a quick chop and and then used in any application. I find that the previously roasted has a sweeter taste and lacks the bitter bite that I get ( usually just the smell) sometimes when sauteing fresh uncooked garlic. So I buy bulk peeled garlic (US grown only) and roast and refrigerate for future use Garlic is GREAT!
GEORGE WASHINGTON LR says
I have a large jar of granulated garlic which I cannot use all at once.to keep it I am thinking about putting it in storage bags as I have a food saver and I can get the air out of the bags---will that work geneorge
That would probably work … might be good to store in small portions in the freezer.
I had a very good batch of pickled garlic! I finished it but now i put raw garlin in the pickle juice! Will this be ok?
That should be fin, BJ - I almost always re-use pickle juice for at least one more batch of something or another.
Lacto fermentation is the best way to store foods and was used for millenia around the world till big business came along and wanted us under their control so they can bleed our bank accounts if we just rely on them and their unhealthy products that is dead food, lacto fermented food is living and our bodies just love it.
My grand mother did this to all her vegetables and lived over 100 years in health.
Cheryl Smith says
I keep ginger in the refrigerator in a small jar of soy sauce. Wouldn't this work for garlic as well? Thank you!
Cheryl, I suppose that the salt in the soy sauce would be a means of preserving garlic (especially for those who don't need to avoid sodium!) but I have no experience with this. Let us know if this works for you, and perhaps someone else will weigh in as well.
Helpful article, totally what I was looking for.
I've seen lots of articles about drying different things in your oven, but in my 50 years, I've never seen an oven that you can set below 170, so why all these articles about setting ovens to 130 and below? Ridiculous.
What sort of oven have you got? Our Neff oven starts at 50.
Does anyone have any ideas/experience with preserving roasted garlic??? Might sound odd, but I have replaced mashed potatoes with cauliflower mash (aka cauli-rice or faux-tatoes) and my recipe says to flavour it with roasted garlic. I tried fresh garlic and as much as I love garlic - ew - it's way too intense and oniony tasting. I don't want to have to turn the oven on to roast a few cloves of garlic each time I want that flavour so I'm looking for bright ideas.
I just roast as many cloves as I want, push them out of their jackets, mash them. Using a cookie sheet or cardboard, Put tbsp of the mashed, roasted garlic on plastic wrap. I leave an inch between the mounds. Put another piece over the mounds. Put in freezer. When frozen, remove the mounds from the cookie sheet. Fold them up. Put in a quart freezer bag & take out as much or as little as you need.
Our new oven has a dehydrate setting I wanted
To make that clear for (PM) so no it's not rediculous:)
Is it safe to freeze and store roasted garlic with no oil?
Thank you so very much for all your wonderful ways of preserving garlic! I have a huge bowl of the cloves we grew this year in the garden that I must preserve! Thank You!
my ancient Jenn-Arie has a "warm" setting,and I checked it with an Oven thermometer I can keep it consistently at several temps (my choice) below 170, and dry even a bit quicker if I prop the door open with a wooden spoon . I use a sliding metal window screen and dry tons of stuff,peppers, herbs, kale, celery, turnips, etc beautifully!
This may seem like a completely ignorant question but could someone please further explain the ratio of garlic to oil? I have a large amount of garlic that I want to puree with EVOO. If I used 1 cup of garlic would I use 2 cups of oil? Any help would be appreciated. Sincerely, a novice cook.
Love these ideas , just wanted to say thank you for all your work and knowledge and also for sharing this . I tried the dehydrating in my oven and it was perfect . I used wooden clothes pins to keep the cloth on the rack . My oven is digital so I can set it at any temp . My older dial setting oven wouldn't , thank u again . I found some garlic regrowing itself in the bag so I've planted those in the house . Soon I'll have fresh garlic again ,
I have always made olive oil flavoured with garlic or roasted garlic. Provided you do NOT leave the garlic in the oil, you can store it at room temp. I make it by warming oil on low, and dropping the bulb of garlic in it. When the bulb is golden (for fresh garlic) or darker (for roasted garlic), I take it out (do not let it burn). Let the oil cool and pour into sterilized bottles. The remaining oil will keep as long as any other olive oil.
Diane,to roast a few cloves without turning on the oven simple toss the unpeeled cloves into a skillet over medium heat on the stove for 10 to 15 minutes turning often till the skins start to blacken. Peel and mash.
Randall Sieunath says
Hello I am trying to package garlic for resale how do I prevent the peeled garlic from turning blue/green. Is there a preservative that I can use similar to sodium benzoate to help preserve it, Need to know urgently thanks.
I have a recipe for Lebanese Garlic Sauce and it states that the recipe, which makes 2 cups will keep in the refrigerator for one month. I see that there are many recipes on the web when I google it and they all do not say anything about this garlic sauce being unsafe. Do you have any advice on this issue?
Pat, I feel like this is out of my realm of expertise. Unless there is some preserving agent in the sauce, like vinegar or lemon, you may want to freeze it in small portions and thaw one small portion at a time to use.
Regarding the temperature for drying garlic and why it needs to be lower than most ovens can cope with I read an article that explained that the essential oils of garlic change above 140 degrees and you lose most of the goodness of garlic. Technnically crushing or chopping garlic releases an enzyme called alliinase that catalyzes the formation of allicin. Allicin rapidly breaks down to form a variety of organosulfur compounds. Use of microwaves or temperatures above 140 degrees prevents this chemical reaction so the goodness is not created. Incidentally moistening your dried garlic powder in a little water before cooking will result in greater production of allicin. So if you don't own a dehydrator and your oven's lowest temp is 170 like mine then wait for a cool day (so you can reap the benefits) and leave the oven door open a bit to keep the temp at less than 140
I LOVE garlic stuffed olives. Actually I Love the garlic from the olives. Does anyone know if its possible to use the brine from olives to pickle or preserve garlic? has anyone tried it?
both my electric oven and wood burning range can be used to dry garlic. The oven starts at 50 deg and with the range if you wait until the fire is low and leave the oven door slightly ajar, all your herbs, fruits, veg etc are dried by morning and retain their colour.
gene prepchuk says
can I freeze peeled garlic whole
thanks for your time and answer
jef eatchel says
can you store garlic shallots and black pepper in wine
Jef, this would probably be good for a few days in the fridge, but beyond that, I'm not sure how long it will last.
Jef, this is a good question but I'm not sure of the answer. I'd think it could be stored like this in the fridge for a week or so, or in the freezer for a few months.
Is it safe to freeze and store roasted garlic with no oil? This was asked by Barbara but got no response.
I want to know when preserving garlic, whether in oil or vinegar - do you have to heat/boil the oil/vinegar and then cool
it down. Thanks
Althea, I don't think it's necessary to boil vinegar or oil. Just use as is.
Hi Ann -- it seems like it's actually safer to store garlic in the freezer with no oil. Here's a full article on the oil/no oil technique and how to avoid the risk of botulism! http://www.hgtvgardens.com/freezing/can-you-freeze-garlic-cloves
Thanks lots for this. Had all the detail I wanted and also stopped me from possibly poisoning myself and family. Well done
Jim Koehler says
Very nice site you have here...
...keep up the good work!
If the cloves acquire a bluish tinge while in Rice Wine vinegar after a week, what does that condition indicate?
Jim, I would be suspect of garlic that acquires a bluish tinge ... not sure exactly what that means, but it doesn't sound good!
Jim Koehler says
However, I'm going to let it stand and see what happens.
Wish me luck!
(noooo...I'm not going to ingest it!)
Philip Litrel says
what about preserving garlic in soy sauce??
Philip, that's an interesting idea, as soy sauce is so salty, but unfortunately we haven't tried this, so can't say if it works or if it's safe to do. Maybe experiment with a few cloves and see what happens after a few weeks?
Larry W Mayes says
While my daughter avoids garlic like a vampire, I would eat it in place of Halloween candy. I would prefer a Balsamic vinegar for storage in my refrigerator. Attributing garlic to great cholesterol numbers, does this seem reasonable from a guy who fries up bologna for an occasional sandwich?
Hi, Does anyone knows how to store Chili Garlic Sauce? and how to prolong shelf life? i prepare my very own chili garlic sauce.
What is the shelf life for keeping garlic in the freezer?
Garlic contains sulfur compounds which can react with copper to form copper sulfate, a blue or blue-green compound. The amount of copper needed for this reaction is very small and is frequently found in normal water supplies.
Garlic Can Turn Blue
Raw garlic contains an enzyme that if not inactivated by heating reacts with trace amounts of sulfur in the garlic and copper from water or utensils to form blue copper sulfate. The garlic is still safe to eat.
I don't know if anyone else has done this but I pack peeled garlic in jars and then heat honey and pour over to top. screw on lid and then refrigerate for 6 months or longer.
garlic flavor and water go into solution and garlic absorbs sweetness. yummy honey is oerfect preservative.
I have a recipe for preserving garlic handed down from generations must be ok as no one has been harmed yet
1/2 lb. garlic cloves
2 cups vinegar (pickling or distilled)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. kosher or pickling salt
red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds and 1/2 tsp. celery seeds
place seeds in a cheese cloth bag tied
bring vinegar sugar salt and seed bag to a boil place pepper flakes into sterile jars fill with garlic cloves remove and discard the seed bag cover the garlic with the vinegar seal and store in pantry
This sounds wonderful, thanks!
I put garlic in white vinegar for a week. Went to use them they turned green???????are they still good???????
Jim Koehler says
Jeanette?....See post #30
Lita Watson says
I think that if we preserve the garlic with boiled vinegar and cloves peeled, it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a year.
Yael Tamar says
What a fantastic ideas!! I go through so much garlic, so all of these would be great to give a try. Thanks for sharing!
Dee Turner says
U.C. Davis recommends 1tablespoon of citric acid in 2 cups of warm water (otherwise the crystals won't dissolve), added to 2/3 cup of chopped garlic. I put this in the fridge and have used it for up to two months with no adverse effects. I do drain the liquid from the garlic just prior to use.
Bonnie Boudreaux says
My method for peeling fresh garlic:
Put whole pod of garlic in plastic bag, I bought a rubber mallet (hammer just smashed too much cloves). I then add garlic pods to very hot tap water for about 10-15 minutes, after time, I cut root end first, and 98% of the time garlic peeling just EASILY sides off. Excellent way for me, especially since I use lots of garlic in my cooking.
I know I can preserve ginger in cooking cherry
Can I do the same for garlic and turmeric
Would be interesting
Nubia Cree says
Up up up, good