Garlic: How to Pick and Store, Top Cooking Tips
Never underestimate the power of a garlic clove!
Though it’s just a spice in your pantry, just image how your dishes would taste if there was no garlic added, you will realize how important it is.
Particularly, the way you choose, store and cook them can reflex different tastes. In some cases, misunderstood knowledge can lead to some unwanted troubles while cooking with this spice. Like, never fry them with duck eggs, carps and chickens, have you heard about that? Or, roasting garlics in an oven can help you get more delicious flavor. Have you?
If not, don’t miss out this article as it’s not something common that people pleasantly share on the internet these days.
How to choose garlic
To get better preservation of this spice, first thing first, it’s essential to know how to choose nice garlics.
Simple! There are just two main things to consider: outer look and color.
Pick the solid and large garlic!
(However, don’t pick those too large garlics as they won’t be as fragrant as the medium.) They should not suffer from insects, neither.
Also, you need to check its outer performance, which must be intact and whitish. Don’t go for those are sprouting, especially when you are at a farmer market.
Besides, pay attention to the garlic bulb. It must be full, whitish and not too soft nor wrinkled. Garlic with gray or yellow branches won’t have its natural fragrance anymore.
To keep them last as long as possible, undamaged cloves are priority.
How to store
Now, this is the most exciting part in this article as I will share with you my top tricks to store garlic not only as fresh as possible, but also long lasting. They are quite easy to carry out, but not all people acknowledge this.
So, check it out!
With fresh garlic
Firstly, take notice to dry them out, particularly if they are homegrown garlic bulbs. This trick will keep their flavor last longer, more developing and concentrated.
Two common ways to dry garlic bulbs are either place them in a loosely woven basket or a mesh bag and let dry for about one week, in dark condition without moisture. (I mean after you already wash them.)
Or, you can hang them from their stalks, HOWEVER, I only advise this method if the garlic tops are flexible. With the hard-neck ones, if you try to braid them, they will shatter.
For short-term preservation, I sincerely advise you to store them in cool room temperature, about 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit are nice and in moderate humidity and good air circulation.
Rarely many people know that garlics need to “breathe”, too. So, if you don’t, just acknowledge it – never place them in sealed container or plastic bags. Such storage condition may lead to sprouting or mold.
Besides, remember that sunshine is the heavenly enemy of garlic. Thus, place these babies away from direct sunlight, guys!
Now, based on such requiring condition of storage, it’s even harder to keep fresh garlic during the winter as chances will the heated home devices make them drier and drier. As the result, garlics turn rock, shrivel up and end with being tossed out.
My tip to save them in cold, freaking dried winter is placing in the cupboard, under an unglazed clay flowerpot. Such these flowerpots can keep heat pretty well to provide moderate warmth and humidity for garlics, not too wet but not too dry. Perfect!
Besides, don’t make mistake of storing them in the fridge because it adds moisture to encourage mold growth in the bulb. You can store minced or chopped fresh garlic in the refrigerator but say no to garlic bulbs.
Pay attention to new season garlic
It’s an exception for those homegrown, new season garlic (or the “young wet” garlics). They are mostly harvested in early summer and already get good flavor to alter leeks or onions while cooking. So, you needn’t dry them before preservation, but just place in the refrigerator.
What to do if garlics haven been broken?
Use them as quick as possible as after broken up, their shelf life will be shortened significantly. In detail, you can keep intact garlics up to two months in proper condition storage, but just 3-10 days with broken garlic bulbs.
Storing Garlic Through Preservation
If anyone asked me for advice to freeze garlic, then my answer is probably no. In fact, this method can change the flavor, and even the texture of garlics. However, it doesn’t mean this way is impossible.
In fact, if you don’t use garlic frequently nor want to waste the leftover cloves, just apply this option. Also, if you need to store them during winter, freezing is a good choice. JUST accept the truth that its taste won’t be as delicious and mild flavor as the fresh ones.
To free garlics, I have two ways for you:
The first one is as mentioned above, you can chop or mince them, place in a clean plastic bag and put in the fridge. With this method, a common problem happened to garlic is they start to stick together. To solve it, just grate off as much the frozen minced garlic as desire.
The second way is to freezing the whole garlic bulb, remember to unpeeling them, just place in a plastic bag, wrap them all and put in the fridge or freezer. Another great alternation for plastic bag is aluminum foil. Besides, if you like to remove the garlics in to separate cloves, just go ahead.
Other cool ways to store garlic
Apart from two common methods to store garlic above, which you can also see in some guidance, here are my secret tricks that’re worth trying!
Store them in garlic-infused oil
Might you heard somewhere that placing garlics in such oil can cause mold growth, especially the bacteria clostridium botulinum, and lead to some unwanted disease, such as botulism. HOWEVER, it only happens if you place them in room temperature.
Once you put the garlic-oil jar in the freezer, that’s not a matter at all.
So now, you can feel worry-free to try this way, can’t you?
Firstly, peel the garlic into separate cloves, place them in a glass jar and pour oil until it submerges garlics entirely. Next, tighten the jar by a lid and put it in the freezer. When in need, just use a clean spoon and scoop them out.
For those who don’t have glass jar, you can try plastic container.
If you want to get more convenient cooking, this way is much better. Also, it helps to avoid the matter happened to garlics when you freeze them as mentioned above. It’s making a puree of peeled garlic cloves and olive oil based on the ratio of 1:2 (1 part of garlic and 2 parts of oil).
Use a food processor or a blender to help you this step and then transfer the puree into a jar. Again, tighten it up with a lid and place in the freezer.
When in need, just use a spoon, scoop them out and place in the pan. Easy peasy!
Use vinegar or wine
Might this sound unbelievable but it’s truth. You can peel the garlics into separate cloves and pickle them in vinegar or wine based on your preference or which one is available in your kitchen.
With wine, it’s okay with both white and red wine. The same with vinegar. Pour them to submerge completely the garlics, tighten up and leave in the freezer.
I highly recommend you to choose a glass jar for this method for better vision and storage. And to get better taste to these pickled garlic, my tip is to add some dried herbs like oregano, bay leaves, red pepper flakes or rosemary and a tablespoon of salt/cup of garlic liquid. Then, shake the jar well.
By this way, you can store the garlics up to 4 months.
Remember, put them in freezer, NOT the room temperature. Now, with improper preservation, there might be mold in your pickled garlic jar. If unluckily, yours is in such bad situation, let’s discard it.
This is as easy as those two above. Besides, there are two reasons you should try it.
- Dried garlic condenses to not take much space in your pantry
- After absorbing water while cooking, they will give really good taste to the dish
To dry garlics, use a food dehydrator for help.
Peel the individual garlic cloves then, pick only the unbruised and plump ones for dehydrating. Now, cut them in half lengthwise and put on the dehydrator tray. Follow the instruction given by the manufacturer to get the best heat settings.
A clear signal to know that dried garlics are ready is they start to brittle and crisp.
Now, what to do if you don’t have a food dehydrator?
Easy! Just use an oven instead with the same process. Put all halved cloves in the dish of baking oven, bake them in 140 degrees Fahrenheit in 2 hours. After that, turn down the heat to 130 degrees and keep baking till they are completely dried out.
Salt the garlics
With such dried garlic, to add more flavor, you can salt them by simply blending the processed garlic in a food processor until they become a nice powder.
Now, mix them with salt in a ratio of 4:1 (4 part of sea salt with 1 part of garlic powder).
Keep processing for 1-2 minutes to get the perfect combination. Remember to over process the mixture more than 2 minutes as they will start clumping to the other.
To get the best preservation, put this mixture in a glass jar, tighten up and place in cool room temperature (dark condition only).
Roasted garlics in an oven
This is my favorite method to store garlic as it gives better fragrance and flavor. Particularly, you needn’t peel them into separate cloves and can be used with almost any food, like sprinkling on a pizza or spreading on bread.
Moreover, they can be stored in a freezer as well.
To carry out, start greasing a casserole dish with olive oil lightly. Then, add garlic bulbs in and start baking at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until they become squishy and soft in 45 minutes.
Next, snip the tips of the garlic cloves and bulbs. Then, squeeze them out the significantly tasty and now, they are flesh and soft.
To get the best preservation, transfer the mixture in a glass jar, tighten up and place in the freezer. Don’t worry of the garlics to freeze in there thanks to its high content of oil.
When in need, just scoop out and add to the pan.
If you don’t have a freezer, a fridge is okay, but its shelf life will be shortened down to roughly 1 week.
Bonus: Top cooking tips
To complete this article, I will give you some more useful tips while cooking with garlic:
Do not use garlic immediately after peeling
After being peeled, you should not use them immediately. Let’s crush, cut and let them sit in 15 minutes to let the enzyme activity in the garlic be promoted optimally.
When in use, garlic makes your dish more delicious, and nutritious.
Do not let the garlic overcooked
Many housewives have the habit of frying minced garlic in a preheat pan with oil. This method improves the flavor of the food but if garlics are burned, they will make the food bitter.
Therefore, when frying, you should put them in the saucepan after onion and ginger. Then, fry them quickly within a few seconds and put the rest ingredients of the dish into the pan. This trick helps to avoid garlic from being quickly burned.
Apart from those frying dishes, garlic is often used as a condiment for soup, you also note that don’t cook garlic for too long as they will lose large amounts of vitamins and nutrients.
Do not cook garlic with duck eggs, chicken and carp
When cooking garlic with duck eggs, chicken, carrots, your food becomes toxic, which endangers our health.
Therefore, avoid processing garlic with these ingredients, especially when making fried rice with garlic, you should use the chicken eggs instead. That will ensure your health better.
Use fresh garlic only when cooking
The fresh garlic contains more active ingredients, nutrients and brings more health benefits than the old ones.
Now, that’s all of what you need to know about garlics, including how to pick, store and cook them in the proper way. Might my article be a little long for you, but I can proudly assert that by reading it, you can equip fully basic and needed information to promote this spice optimally. Good luck!