Garlic is one of those foods that most kitchens cannot be without. So it’s incredibly frustrating to see that your plans for a bolognese dinner are spoiled because your garlic went moldy.
So why does your garlic keep going moldy? Can you still eat it and how do you stop it from happening again?
Well, good news, in this article we will be answering all these moldy garlic questions and even more, so keep reading.
Why does garlic get moldy?
The most common reason for mold to develop on garlic is down to poor storage.
For example, storing your garlic in a bowl on the kitchen countertop may seem like a good idea, however, kitchens often have higher humidity levels than other rooms of the house. Any time the humidity levels pass over 55%, mold can begin to grow.
Mold needs a temperature climate, moisture, and a source of food in order to grow, and if your humidity levels are high, your kitchen provides everything it needs to thrive.
Signs of mold growth on garlic
There are several signs to look for on a garlic bulb or clove that point to mold growth.
The most common signs of mold are black or brown spots on the outside of a garlic bulb, a green or white fuzzy/powdery substance usually found on the bulb itself, or a powdery substance with a blueish tint to it.
What types of mold grow on garlic?
The most common strains of mold you can find growing on garlic are:
Penicillium (blue and green molds)
Both of these types of mold have the potential to create and release chemicals known as mycotoxins, which can be harmful to human health, especially to those more sensitive to them.
It’s important therefore to remove the spoiled garlic as soon as it is spotted.
How quickly does garlic grow mold?
If all the correct circumstances are in place (high humidity, low sunlight, food sources, and high moisture levels), mold can begin to grow on garlic bulbs or cloves in as little as 24-48 hours.
Is the green mold on garlic dangerous?
The green mold found on garlic is most likely a strain of penicillium, and whilst many strains of mold are harmless to humans, you should not deliberately ingest it if seen.
Some people may have little to no reaction, but others can be allergic to the spores produced by the mold, causing breathing difficulties (including asthma attacks), and skin and eye irritation amongst others.
What about black mold on garlic?
Black mold on garlic is most likely the Aspergillus Niger strain of mold. This is the same strain that you can find in the corners of bathrooms and in rooms of the home that have regular high humidity levels.
This strain of mold is most commonly discussed, as it is known to be potentially highly toxic. If you see black mold on your garlic, it again should be immediately thrown away.
What is the shelf life of garlic?
If the proper care is taken to store a bulb of unpeeled garlic, it can last up to six months before it begins to grow mold or begin to break down to a noticeable degree.
If frozen, garlic can also last six months, however, the flavor does begin to diminish within around 3 months, so it may be best to use it before this time.
Can you eat moldy garlic?
Moldy garlic should not be eaten, even if you are fit and healthy. The spores created by the mold can still cause symptoms such as headaches, forgetfulness, nausea, and so on.
People more sensitive to allergens can suffer from even more extreme symptoms, so if moldy garlic is found, it’s best that it be thrown away.
If one clove of garlic is moldy, is the rest of the bulb safe to eat?
Unfortunately, much as it may seem a waste to throw away a whole bulb of garlic just because one clove had become moldy, it is the right thing to do.
If one clove of garlic in a bulb has become moldy, the spores have likely spread all over the bulb, meaning it should be thrown away entirely to avoid any health implications.
How to store garlic to prevent mold growth
The good news is, that there are several options available to keep your garlic as fresh for as long as possible without fear of mold growth. The main factors to focus on when storing garlic are as follows:
Humidity – Ensure the area you are storing your garlic has as low humidity as as possible. Mold begins to grow around 55% humidity, so keeping it away from water sources (such as kettles and sinks) makes it harder for mold to form.
Airflow – Whilst you may think that keeping food stored away in a cupboard may be best for it, in the example of garlic, it is best to store it in an open space. The reason for this is that areas with little to no airflow (such as a closed cupboard) allow mold spores to settle and begin to grow, whereas any areas with a high level of airflow make it harder for mold spores to settle in any great quantity.
Temperature – Mold begins to grow exceptionally well between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, so if you live in a warmer climate, it may be worth storing your garlic in a refrigerator, but bear in mind after several weeks, the lower temperatures may encourage the garlic to start sprouting.
To store peeled or unpeeled garlic in a refrigerator, the lowest shelves of the fridge, (or even better a salad crisper), will allow for a more even temperature as well as lower overall humidity levels, which will help to keep the bulb or cloves fresh for longer.
If you do not have a salad crisper, I highly recommend products specifically created to store garlic in or out of the fridge, they all make storage a breeze and prevent cross-contamination between food items in your fridge.
So, if you don’t want your kitchen smelling of garlic or your yogurt having a garlicky kick, take a look at any of these products below (clicking the links will take you to Amazon, and I have taken a selection to cover all budgets).
For storing in a refrigerator (warmer climates)
For room temperature storage (cooler climates)
ONTUBE Large Garlic Keeper (For people who love their garlic)
Hopefully, by the end of reading this article, you will have found all the answers to your questions about mold growth in garlic.
One of the key points to remember is that if your garlic has grown mold, (either peeled or the bulb itself), throw it out. You could get sick from ingesting any mold spores, so it’s just not worth the risk.