Preserving Garlic

garlic cloves

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 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:

Fresh garlic

Freezing Garlic

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.

Drying Garlic

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.

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.

Garlic Vinegar

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.

Garlic Salt

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.

Garlic Oil

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.

*This post contains affiliate links. If the product is purchased by linking through this review, VegKitchen receives a modest commission, which helps maintain our site and helps it to continue growing!

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95 comments on “Preserving Garlic

  1. Nava

    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.

  2. Diana

    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.

  3. Diane

    Hi there
    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.

  4. Merle

    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.

  5. lenna

    Our new oven has a dehydrate setting I wanted
    To make that clear for (PM) so no it’s not rediculous:)

  6. Cheryl

    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!

  7. em

    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!

  8. Tweet

    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.

  9. KT

    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 ,

  10. Thora

    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.

  11. John

    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.

  12. Randall Sieunath

    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.

  13. Pat

    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?

  14. Nava

    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.

  15. Ken

    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

  16. Cheryl

    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?

  17. Mary

    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.

  18. Nava

    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.

  19. Nava

    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.

  20. Althea

    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

  21. Jim Koehler

    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?


  22. Nava

    Jim, I would be suspect of garlic that acquires a bluish tinge … not sure exactly what that means, but it doesn’t sound good!

  23. Jim Koehler

    Good advice….
    However, I’m going to let it stand and see what happens.
    Wish me luck!
    (noooo…I’m not going to ingest it!)


  24. Nava

    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?

  25. Larry W Mayes

    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?

  26. Alvin

    Hi, Does anyone knows how to store Chili Garlic Sauce? and how to prolong shelf life? i prepare my very own chili garlic sauce.

  27. Rutledge

    Discolored Garlic

    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.

  28. Lamont

    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.

  29. Cheryl

    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

  30. Jeannette

    I put garlic in white vinegar for a week. Went to use them they turned green???????are they still good???????

  31. Yael Tamar

    What a fantastic ideas!! I go through so much garlic, so all of these would be great to give a try. Thanks for sharing!

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