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Aug 09, 2021 | Samuel Albert
Every time I went out vegetable shopping during this pandemic, I was uncomfortable about the freshness, shelf life, and flavor of fresh vegetables I bought in bulk. But I never thought twice about buying garlic in bulk. It is no secret that garlic has a long shelf life.
The white color of the bulb, its firm and crisp feel, and not overwhelmingly flavorful are the main criterion for detecting if garlic is fresh or not. The other things that determine their freshness include shelf life, ways of storing them, the form in which they are stored, and storage temperature.
Garlic gives that heart-winning flavor and taste to any dish it is used in and is the heartthrob of every culinary enthusiast. However, it is best when used fresh. So, let's look more closely at the life of garlic in your kitchen.
How to Store Garlic
Storing Garlic in Different Forms
The loose cloves stay fresh for a month or two. Make sure to store your pods with their heads up.
As I said before, freezing the pods and de-freezing them will make them lose their crispiness.
As far as crushed/pulverized garlic is concerned, I add half a teaspoon of salt to make it last longer, refrigerate it, and use it as and when needed.
Garlic is available in shops in this form as a convenient product for those who don't have time and energy for peeling and mincing.
If you are a frugal cook like me who doesn't take no for an answer and believes that everything can be made at home, carefully make the garlic-infused oil in small portions. Be extra cautious and always store it inside the refrigerator and use them up within a month.
If you had absent-mindedly kept the bottle outside, never take chances and immediately throw it out. The infusion would have grown Clostridium botulinum bacteria. You will never know it as the taste and color will never give it away.
This oil you purchased from the shop undergoes a particular procedure to make it more acidic. It also contains preservatives to improve its shelf life.
Always check the expiry date before you buy. Apart from the expiry date, you can notice that it also has a "once opened date." Write the date of opening in a marker pen on the bottle. Follow the "best before" time limit religiously to avoid any food poisoning issues.
Sensory Indicators of Freshness
They are good to go into both the pots, the cooking pot and the dirt pot. If you want to cook the sprouted garlic, chop off the green part and use the rest of the clove as usual; there is no harm.
Alternatively, you can go ahead and pot them in a dirt pot as well. Once potted, the sprouts will soon grow out tender, edible garlic leaves, which you can use for your cooking projects.
Garlic and Botulism
Did you know that Clostridium botulinum is the name of the bacteria that causes botulism, a type of food poisoning?
This bacteria produces spores that help them to survive under adverse conditions. They are found in the soil where garlic plants are cultivated. Garlic pods harbor some of these microscopic spores, which remain dormant for the most part, and don't pose a health hazard even if consumed.
These bacteria only seem to thrive under anaerobic conditions, low acid, low sugar, low salt, a particular temperature, and a certain amount of moisture. Unfortunately, when garlic is immersed in oil, the room temperature, low acidic nature of garlic, dampness, and anaerobic condition make the spores come alive. These active spores cause botulism.
The symptoms will probably start to show up after 18-36 hours. They include chiefly skeletal muscle paralysis, which in turn affects the rest of the body. They affect the muscles responsible for moving and breathing. Partial paralysis slowly progresses into total paralysis of these muscles.
The symptoms generally include:
Other possible signs and symptoms of food-borne botulism also include:
This condition can be fatal if left untreated, and the patient needs to seek immediate medical attention.
Garlic, the Miracle Food
"Food is medicine" is my policy.
Apart from the fact that garlic is an irreplaceable and indispensable ingredient in my kitchen, it has many health benefits which no one can ignore. Garlic, when consumed in the right amounts, is a superfood for the human race. But sadly, it is also one of the most misunderstood and wrongly judged food.
Garlic has been around for a long time and has proven benefits on regular consumption. Let me list a few here:
How to Buy Fresh Garlic
Summing up, let's quickly see how we choose and select the fresh garlic from the store. The best route to go is to see if they are tightly bound to the top, firm and tough to gentle press, not wrinkly, papery skin, and it weighs well for their size. They should not be too aromatic as it happens only if the pods inside have been disturbed by either crushing or have just started to go bad.
Procuring fresh produce from the market, storing the groceries and vegetables properly, cooking them into tasty dishes, and relishing a warm, hot meal is a never-ending cycle of everyone's life.
Salads, cut vegetables, smoked fish, precooked meat, sandwiches, desserts, canned beans, precooked meat, baked delicacies, and other ready-to-eat food are at our disposal in the supermarkets. It sure makes our life easier, but unfortunately, most of the nutrition is stripped off from the food during the preservation process, and we end up eating not-so-healthy food. It is okay if it is once in a while; everyone deserves a break and a holiday. But when this becomes a habit, our body takes the blow in the long run.
Home-cooked food made from scratch with hand-picked ingredients from the store, not storing the procurement for a long time, using them fresh, and meticulous preparation of delectable dishes may not be so easy but is a rewarding experience at the end of it all.
Wishing you success in all your endeavors!