A fuzzy growth on your garlic doesn’t bode well for your cooking plans. Here’s what to know, including whether that garlic is OK to use.
Garlic is one of the most universally beloved ingredients out there. Most home chefs have at least one head of garlic in their kitchen at all times, and garlic is used in a ton of different dishes, so it’s worth keeping around. Since garlic has a shelf life of up to six months (if properly stored), it’s easy to lose track of exactly how long you’ve had that garlic sitting in your pantry. So what should you do when you pull your garlic out and find that it is fuzzy? Is it still safe to eat? What should you do with garlic that has gone fuzzy? Here’s everything you need to know.
Why Garlic Gets Fuzzy
Unfortunately, that fuzzy growth you see on your garlic is a sign that your garlic has gone bad. Garlic that has been left for too long without being used can start to grow fuzzy patches of white or dark-colored mold and should be disposed of. Do not eat garlic that is showing signs of mold growth.
Other signs that your garlic has gone bad include mushy cloves or cloves that feel hollow and crunchy. Properly storing your garlic and using it in a timely manner are the two biggest ways to prevent garlic from going bad and growing mold.
How Long Does Garlic Last?
As long as it’s stored properly, unpeeled garlic can last up to six months. Once the cloves are unpeeled, they should be used within a week or two. (This goes for garlic you purchase pre-peeled, too: Use that garlic quickly!) Minced garlic usually won’t last longer than a day, unless it’s commercially packaged, since extra preservatives are usually added to extend the shelf life of pre-minced and jarred garlic.
To keep garlic fresh for as long as possible, it’s important that you store it properly. In its bulb form, garlic should be stored in a cool, dark place, like a pantry. Garlic bulbs need plenty of air circulation to stay fresh and should not be kept in airtight containers unless the cloves have been separated and peeled. Keep whole garlic bulbs in mesh bags, a basket, or a crate in your pantry or a dark cupboard.
If you have cloves that have already been peeled, you should store them in the fridge until you’re ready to use them. Wrap them in plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container or plastic bag for up to a week in the fridge. Garlic that has already been minced at home should be stored covered in olive oil in the fridge and will usually only last around 2 to 3 days.