Garlic is such interesting food. Did you know that technically speaking garlic is a vegetable? I didn't realize this until recently. I had always called it a spice or an herb. But considering it is a bulb that grows in the ground, it is a vegetable. Keeping the nature of garlic in mind can help when trying to know how to tell when garlic is bad. This came up for me when I wanted to learn how to roast garlic.
Can garlic go bad?
Yes, fresh garlic can go bad. It is just like any other fresh vegetable and it has a shelf life. The key to keeping garlic fresh is to keep it whole. Garlic starts to degrade once the bulb is broken. Peeled garlic has a short life of just a few days.
3 Tips: How do you know if garlic is bad
Is your garlic soft?
Garlic should not be hard, but it also shouldn't be smushy. It should be firm to the touch and crisp. The garlic cloves should be easy to slice or mince. If the garlic clove turns to mush when you try and cut it, you should throw it away because you have rotten garlic.
What does bad garlic look like?
Is your garlic discolored? Garlic should be more white than yellow. If your garlic looks yellow or has yellow or brown spots, it is not good. It is also possible that bad garlic will start to turn green.
Does your garlic have sprouts?
If garlic is left untouched for too long, it will start to grow sprouts. Sprouts mean that the garlic has turned and you should throw it out. As a note, these sprouts will not harm you, but the garlic will not taste as you are hoping at this point.
How to store fresh garlic
The key to keeping garlic fresh is all about how you store it. Whole bulbs of raw garlic should be stored in a dry and dark place with plenty of circulation. So don't store your fresh garlic on a window sill or in a plastic bag. Store your garlic in a basket on your counter in an open bowl with plenty of ventilation.
How long does fresh garlic last?
If appropriately stored fresh bulbs of garlic can be stored for up to 6 months. The key to long term storage of garlic is to keep it dry, cool, and very well ventilated. Do not store fresh garlic in the refrigerator.
Each time that you pull out a bulb of garlic and get ready to cook with it, go ahead and take a sniff. Your nose will often guide you in the right direction. If the garlic smells a bit off, go ahead and start your inspection. Feel it first and make sure that it still feels firm. Then cut into it and make sure that the color of the cloves appears mostly white without any brown or green spots. Finally, if it has passed these inspections and you don't see any sprouts, you are ready to start cooking. So hopefully you now have a simple method for how do you know when garlic is bad.