Tips on Storing Garlic

Short Answer:

We suggest you store your garlic in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place in a well-ventilated container such as mesh or paper.  We often just store them in a clay bowl on the kitchen counter.  Keep them away from any direct sunlight and don’t use the refrigerator.

Longer Answer:

Think of garlic as Goldilocks in the children’s story.  Garlic does best if it’s not too hot or too cold and not too dry or too moist.  Keeping it open to the air prevents all sorts of mold and disease problems.  This translates to temperatures of 50-70 degrees and relative humidity of 40-60 percent at those temperatures.  Direct sun can be too hot and will dry out the garlic quickly.

Here in Minnesota we have a north facing kitchen and store our garlic all winter on the counter in bowls or paper bags.  Because we often have reject and extra garlic, by around Thanksgiving we move that garlic from our unheated farm shed to the basement in our home out in the open where it gets a pretty constant 60 to 70 degrees and good air circulation.  By late winter the air gets drier than ideal but that’s less serious than too damp as it might be in the summer without a dehumidifier.  We’re eating our garlic through at least March and have had years where the garlic stores until late June and by then we’ve switched to scapes for a couple months before starting with the freshly cured garlic in early August.

Whether to put it in the refrigerator is a source of regular discussion and some controversy.  If you do put it in your fridge, it loses the fresh air circulation and depending on location it can be too moist.  If you take the garlic out of your fridge and set it on a cupboard, it will have a tendency to sprout quickly since you’ve told it winter’s over and spring has come.  So our advice is to avoid the fridge if possible but there are worse places to put it.

Garlic is reasonably forgiving as to environment.  Dampness and stale air are the worst enemies.  Damp garlic can mold or rot fairly quickly making it useless.  But at the other extreme, if your garlic dries out you still have good garlic. Throwing those hard, dried cloves in your next batch of soup or stew is a good use for them.  Better to have it a little too dry than too damp.

So, when you are looking at your beautiful garlic on your kitchen counter out of the sun, remember Goldilocks and how everything is ‘just right’!