Fresh heads of garlic have an impressive shelf life when kept under the right conditions. We'll admit, though, that whole garlic heads are not the most convenient when you're trying to get dinner on the table, and that makes pre-chopped garlic a popular choice for many home cooks. Whether you prefer the convenience of minced garlic in a jar or enjoy the process of chopping it fresh and storing it for later, understanding how to properly store garlic is critical for reasons of both flavor and food safety.
The key to preserving the flavor of freshly chopped garlic lies in minimizing its exposure to air, light, and moisture. These elements can contribute to the growth of mold and bacteria, leading to spoilage. By storing minced garlic properly, you can extend its lifespan and continue to enjoy the pungent and aromatic qualities of this convenient shortcut.
The exact amount of time you can store minced garlic will depend on whether it's purchased or cut in your kitchen, but in both cases, refrigeration is necessary for food safety. Improperly stored at room temperature or in a low-oxygen environment (such as submerged in oil), garlic can be a source of botulism poisoning, according to the USDA. Freshly chopped garlic, uncovered will last just a day or two in the fridge, while opened jars of garlic have about a three-month storage window. For the longest life, you'll get about six months out of jarred and packed fresh garlic if you freeze them.
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Keep Your Minced Garlic Chilled And Covered
If you prefer the ease of purchasing jars of chopped garlic, always use a clean spoon to scoop out the desired amount to prevent contamination and keep the jar refrigerated at all times. When stored in the refrigerator, jarred chopped garlic generally has a longer shelf life compared to freshly chopped garlic because preservatives such as citric acid or vinegar are added, which help inhibit bacterial growth and extend its longevity, but also alter the flavor. Throw the jar away if you notice bad smells, bubbling, or any discoloration.
An alternative to purchasing minced garlic is to prepare it yourself, either with your knife or by pulsing peeled cloves in the food processor until the garlic is chopped the way you like it. A batch of minced garlic can be held in the refrigerator for several days, and of course, keep it in a tightly closed container to prevent the pungent aroma from taking over. Keep an eye out for signs of spoilage, like color changes and pools of moisture in the container.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.