Did you know that onions and garlic are dried on purpose before its stored? Onions are cured after harvesting. When cured and stored properly, fresh onions can actually last as long as a year in storage! Garlic bulbs are also cured in the same way. The papery skins of these aromatics are what keeps them safe from moisture and mold. When these are removed, they are more prone to spoiling faster.
If you have traveled to the provinces and seen ropes of garlic and onions hanging from the rafters, these are probably some of the freshest garlic and onions you’ll find since these are commonly from the surrounding farms. It’s proof that the best place to store garlic and onions is at room temperature. These aromatics will actually spoil faster when refrigerated so the best place for these two to be stored is in a bowl or container where these can stay cool and dry.
Why not in the refrigerator? If you store garlic in the refrigerator, it might start to sprout in a few days. Onions meanwhile might turn mushy earlier than they should, too, since the cold keeps the onions most instead of dry. The only time you should store these two aromatics in the refrigerator is if you’ve already peeled and cut them up. Need just half a large onion? Cut it up but cover the cut side with plastic wrap or parchment paper and store it in the refrigerator. Garlic can last a few days at the most at room temperature without its protective paper peel before it starts to dry out.
Garlic and onions are used in almost every savory dish you may make in your kitchen, so it’s important to know how to tell if these are no longer good to prepare and eat. Here are the signs you need to watch out for so you know when the onions and the garlic in your basket have gone bad:
1 Garlic has shrunk and dried out.
The most telling sign that garlic has gone bad is that the cloves have shrunk and gone dry. It starts with a dark golden spot and spreads out from there. These are best used immediately, with the dried-up spot cut off. If the entire clove has dried up, it’s a sign that the rest of the bulb will soon follow since it’s nearing the end of its storage life.
2 Onions have soft spots.
Onions are pretty juicy, and this is an attribute that can hasten its spoilage. Unlike the garlic that dries up, onions turn mushy and develop soft spots. Basically, the onions start to rot from these soft softs and can spread from that area to the rest of the onion. Simply cut these off from the rest of the bulb and it should be still edible.
You might be wondering if garlic and onions have spouted are still edible. These are! Just like you can add chopped garlic chives and green onions to your dish, you can also chop these up and use them in your dish. While these are not as tasty as the leaves themselves or the bulb itself, these are edible even if you do not remove them from the bulb and cloves when preparing them.
Another sign that might make you think the garlic and onions have gone bad is a black powder or black mold that can commonly appear on onion skin. This black mold, while looks dangerous, is not. You just need to remove the mold from the onion layers by either rinsing it off under running water or by cutting off the affected areas. Anyone with allergies to mold however should be cautious and throw out the infected onion instead for food safety reasons.
Learn more about garlic and onion by reading these articles: