Storing Garlic At Home February 07, 2015 18:58

Storing Garlic

I get a lot of questions from people on how they should store their garlic at home. Storing garlic is not overly complicated and if a few basic steps  are taken, your garlic should stay in good shape for a long time.

(1) Garlic Varieties

Although the average homeowner doesn't always know the type of garlic they have purchased or grown themselves, it is important to understand that not all garlic keeps as well as others. Most of the garlic you purchase at the grocery store is grown in warmer climates such as California and are a type of softneck garlic. These tend to store for a very long time and are not overly difficult to keep in good condition when storing at home.

The majority of garlic that gardeners grow in Canada or purchase at local Farmers' Markets is considered hardneck garlic (although some softneck garlic is grown in Canada as well). Hardneck garlics tend to store for a shorter period of time, but do have a very wide range of storage ability depending on the specific variety. They can be stored for as little as 2 months and as long as a year.

(2) Temperature & Humidity

When being stored, garlic does not like to be too warm or too cold.  The temperature should remain above 10⁰C (to prevent sprouting) and below 20⁰C (to prevent premature dehydration) with an ideal range of 13⁰C or 14⁰C. This means that you should never store your garlic in a refrigerator as it will begin to sprout (not to mention loose it's flavour).

Also, it is important to keep the garlic in a cool dark place with good air circulation (especially in more humid conditions).  Humidity between 45% and 50% (similar to conditions in many homes) is best to minimize dehydration.

(3) Storage Method

Hanging your garlic in mesh bags is usually the best option.  This allows good air circulation and helps prevent molds or decay. Some people that don't have a mesh bag use pantyhose instead, as they act similar and don't hold moisture. Storing garlic in a closed container is not a good idea and will almost always lead to molds developing. This even includes things like paper bags which do not allow enough air circulation. 

(4) Location

Hanging garlic in a basement works best for most people. Basements tend to be a bit cooler than the rest of the house and usually have the proper humidity levels. If your basement is on the humid side, it is very important to have the garlic stored in an area with good air circulation. Some homeowners will use a small fan to create a bit of air flow, but the fan should never be blowing directly on the garlic as this will usually cause it to dehydrate prematurely. 

If you don't have a basement, a cool dark location such as a bottom cupboard or pantry can work good as well. The air circulation in a cupboard is not usually very good, however it is still better than storing the garlic out in the open such as on a counter top.