How long can I store minced garlic?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by chaospearl, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. chaospearl

    chaospearl

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    Hi everyone... my first time posting here with a question, so please be gentle.

    I'll try to keep this short and sweet since I'm infamous in most of my forums for the two-page rambling posts!

    I'm trying to figure out the best method for storing fresh minced garlic.  I have severe arthritis and my hands are pretty clawed up, so chopping has become more of a problem over the years.  I have "good" days and "bad" days as far as pain level is concerned and I also have limited amounts of pain medication. 

    Lately I've been trying to make my life easier by doing as much prep as I can whenever I'm having a good day, or when I've already got enough Percocet in my system to stun an elephant (typically because it was necessary for some other reason, having to be on my feet for a whole afternoon or some such, usually).  May as well take advantage of the few hours before the meds wear off to do a big bowl of piperade so I can make sausage heroes tomorrow even if my hands are so bad I can't turn a doorknob.

    One of the most difficult prep chores for me now is mincing garlic, because I haven't been able to use a press for some time.  It would make life so much easier for me if I could just mince up half a dozen bulbs at a time and then have fresh garlic to use for the next week.  But finely minced garlic just doesnt seem to last more than a day or two in the fridge.  It gets sticky\soggy, sometimes goes off, or becomes bitter.  If I wanted gross soggy garlic mush I'd just buy it in those jars at the grocery store.

    Does anyone have advice for how I can somehow prep garlic ahead of time and keep it nice for as long as possible?  I've heard suggestions to cover in oil but I don't want to take the risk of botulism just for the sake of fresh garlic.  Can I freeze it or something?  Is there some way of storing it so I could get just an extra couple days?  I dont need to keep a month of garlic on hand; I just don't want to have to go through twenty minutes and a lot of pain every time I need minced garlic.

    Thanks in advance for any help.
     
  2. chefross

    chefross

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    I will mince 2 bulbs at a time. I make sure each clove has no blemishes and clip off the core on each clove. I place all the cloves in a small food processor, add a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil, then process. I keep it in a glass jar in the fridge. I use it up in 3-4 days but as it ages it discolors and it's potency decreases.
     
  3. chefedb

    chefedb

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    The minced in oil or water you buy in jars is mostly dehydrated and has a preservitive added. Each brand differs. I have tried in oil 1 week tops, and water and salt about 4 days.

    Then I tried putting in water and freezing  it works . I put about 1 T in plastic wrap add some water make sure all is moist then I freeze. I took it out 2 weeks later left infridge a while then used results were good.

    I also freeze my Fresh Basil  dry in layers. lose some flavor but better then dry.
     
  4. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

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    ChaosGirl;...I have severe arthritis and my hands are pretty clawed up, so chopping has become more of a problem over the years.

    Hello CG!

    Maybe this preparation is something for you. It's called garlic confit and needs no chopping and... the garlic will stay usable for a few weeks!

    Also, you will have an excellent byproduct which is garlic oil, to be used on salads, for frying potatoes etc. Also, you can eat many entire cloves without spreading that garlic odor! And above all, it's easy to do.

    Get some garlic bulbs. The only thing you need to do is to give them a nice bang with a rolling pin or so to brake the bulbs into cloves. Get the cloves out, but do NOT peel them!

    Make a mixture of half olive oil and half sunflower oil, or just olive oil or just sunflower, it doesn't matter too much.

    Put the unpeeled cloves in the oil together with a sprig of thyme and/or some rosemary.

    [​IMG]

    Put it on your stove, but reduce the fire as if you were hardly simmering anything. I mean, the mixture cannot get higher than 100°C, the boiling point of water. 80°C is more like it. Let the preparation sit on the fire for 60 minutes or longer, it doesn't matter.

    Put the fire out, but leave the preparation to cool entirely.

    When cooled, sieve, but preserve the delicious garlic oil. Take one clove at a time and squeeze a little. The clove will simply pop out of the peel. You can preserve the cloves in the garlic oil you just made. I save the cloves in a small plastic container and put it in my fridge.

    [​IMG]

    You'll love this!
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2011
  5. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Just to remind you, garlic is a vector for botulism. When you start storing it oil, even after cooking, you set up conditions for toxicity. Keep it refrigerated and use it within a few days. Same for the oil itself.
     
  6. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Phatch!   Right you are 

    . The Florida local  county health depts. sent out a notices  about a year ago re. garlic cooked or raw  stored in oil, without the use of a known preservative like sodium ben. or ascorbic acid.
     
  7. mattfin

    mattfin

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    Garlic confit is a fabulous thing. That is a great way to save it for quite some time. 

    If I need lots of chopped garlic, I pulse garlic in the food processor (already peeled - nothing but the garlic) until it reaches desired consistency.  I then cover it with good olive oil in a plastic container and use it as needed over the next week or two - but no more than that. Phatch is right, you gotta be careful with storing garlic too long...
     
  8. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Boutulism has long been the boogyman of the food science world, particularly when USDA and FDA are involved. As we've seen from past discussions on this topic, in general the actual risk levels do not justify the hysteria.

    So it is with garlic-in-oil. There is, to be sure, a lot of anecdotal information, and repeating of the dire warnings. Almost always, however, they say "could cause," "may cause," "the possibility exists" and similar qualifiers. So let's exclude the bloggers, and sloppy food writers, and conventional wisdom and look at the facts.




    Boutulism from garlic in oil did not emerge as a problem until the mid-1980s. In 1985 or 1986 (depends on which authority you choose), there was an outbreak in which 36 or 37 people (again, depends on authority cited) came down with boutulism after eating improperly stored garlic in oil at a British Columbia restaurant. This led to research into the situation. In 1988 the CDC issued a report on its research. According to the abstract:


    "Diagnosis of botulism in two teenaged sisters in Montreal led to the identification of 36 previously unrecognized cases of type B botulism in persons who had eaten at a restaurant in Vancouver, British Columbia, during the preceding 6 weeks. A case-control study implicated a new vehicle for botulism, commercial chopped garlic in soybean oil (P less than 10(-4))."

     

    According to a 1998 article in SafeFood News, this led to new regulations controlling commercial production:

     

    "……This was followed by a 1988 laboratory investigation into the survival of and toxin production by C botulinum in garlic-in-oil preparations. In 1989, 3 people in Kingston, NY, became ill, also from a garlic-in-oil infusion. Thus, in 1989 the FDA issued a ruling, ordering the removal from store shelves of all commercial garlic-in-oil preparations that lacked an acidifying agent, followed by a mandate requiring the addition of an acidifying agent (such as phosphoric or citric acid) to all commercial garlic-in-oil preparations. Acid prevents the growth of the C botulinum, so any spores that might be present in an infusion will not be able to flourish and produce toxin. The acid must be added as the recipe is being prepared."

     

     In other words, the entire hoopla is based on only two events

     

    But what about those who make their own garlic in oil? Research performed by the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia confirmed that mixtures of garlic in oil stored at room temperature are at risk for the development of botulism. Garlic in oil should be made fresh and stored in the refrigerator at 40 °F or lower for no more than 7 days. It may be frozen for long term storage for up to several months. Package in glass freezer jars or plastic freezer boxes, leaving ½-inch headspace. Label, date and freeze.

    So, the long and the short of it is that you can safely prepare and use garlic in oil, so long as you take normal precautions.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2011
  9. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    http://cecalaveras.ucdavis.edu/garlic.htm BOTULISM WARNING Regardless of its flavor potency, garlic is a low-acid vegetable. The pH of a clove of garlic typically ranges from 5.3 to 6.3. As with all low-acid vegetables, garlic will support the growth and subsequent toxin production of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum when given the right conditions. These conditions include improper home canning and improper preparation and storage of fresh herb and garlic-in-oil mixtures. Moisture, room temperature, lack of oxygen, and low-acid conditions all favor the growth of Clostridium botulinum. When growing, this bacterium produces an extremely potent toxin that causes the illness botulism. If untreated, death can result within a few days of consuming the toxic food. STORING GARLIC IN OIL Extreme care must be taken when preparing flavored oils with garlic or when storing garlic in oil. Peeled garlic cloves may be submerged in oil and stored in the freezer for several months. Do not store garlic in oil at room temperature. Garlic-in-oil mixtures stored at room temperature provide perfect conditions for producing botulism toxin (low acidity, no free oxygen in the oil, and warm temperatures). The same hazard exists for roasted garlic stored in oil. By law, commercially prepared garlic in oil has been prepared using strict guidelines and must contain citric or phosphoric acid to increase the acidity. Unfortunately, there is no easy or reliable method to acidify garlic in the home. Acidifying garlic in vinegar is a lengthy and highly variable process; a whole clove of garlic covered with vinegar can take from 3 days to more than 1 week to sufficiently acidify. As an alternative, properly dried garlic cloves may be safely added to flavor oils.
     
  10. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

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    My goodness! I should have been extremely dead by now. Not as much by eating the confit cloves, they never last longer than a few days. The oil should have killed me and my family;  sometimes I use a batch for weeks in a row...

    Ah well, ChaosPearl, back to the drawing board.
     
  11. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    Your sarcastic logic is much the same as the logic used by a lot of guys I know that ride motorcycles without helmets. For me, I never know which motorcycle ride I take that might end in an accident, so I always wear a helmet. Play botulism roulette if you want. You may never get botulism, who knows?.
     
    jay cohen likes this.
  12. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

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    You're right cheflayne, I feel a warned person now, botulisme isn't exactly a joke...
     
  13. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    No, Chris, it isn't a joke.

    What it is, however, is the most overplayed card in the USDA/FDA hand.

    Do some simple research about food-borne boutulism. What you'll find is that no insurance company would even keep actuarial tables on the correlation between boutulism and home-prepped/home canned foods. The risk levels just do not justify the hoopla.

    Look at the garlic situation. All of the shouting resulted from just two events. And in the major one of those the problem stemmed from improper storage of the garlic-in-oil by a restaurant.

    Everybody has to make their own decisions about things like this. But personally I wouldn't hesitate to eat garlic-in-oil that I had put up and stored in the fridge.
     
  14. pcieluck

    pcieluck

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    I used to work for a place that would reuse oil used to store peppers, olives, and a variety of deli salads. Honestly don't know how long or how many times the oils may have been used.  I do the same thing at home, I admit. I chopped too many aromatics.  Pack them in oil reuse them and have a wonderful byproduct that makes good salad dressing. But I'm assuming this "byproduct" may have been used up to a month after it was reserved. Is it me or is it a miracle they haven't killed somebody?

    And Christ, I must say your photos are as amazing as your insight in whatever subject they're being used for. 
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011
  15. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

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    Thanks KYH, that comment puts everything back into perspective.

    Mostly when I make garlic confit, I keep the cloves in a plastic container as I showed in the pictures, with little to no oil and keep them in the fridge. The oil goes in a small bottle. I don't keep cloves in the oil which may reduce the botulism risk.
     
  16. siduri

    siduri

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    What about olive oil, which is more acidic than soybean oil?

    Preserved vegetables (eggplants, carrots, peppers, etc) stored in oil with garlic and herbs are common here.  I steer clear of them, but have never heard of anyone getting botulism. 
     
  17. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Based on the USDA party line, Siduri, olive oil wouldn't make a difference. The "safe" acidic level is a maximum pH of 4.6. Anthing higher than that can support the bacterial growth.

    Although olive oil is slightly more acidic than soybean oil, it's not enough to make a significant difference in the pH. Along with that is the density of the garlic. Again, based on the party line, garlic is too dense to "safely" absorb the acid anyway. But see my comments re: pickled garlic in the other thread.

    Density is the same rationale USDA uses to recommend against pumpkin butter. Their claim is that you can't guarantee consistent heating of the center of the jar, even with pressure canning. Yet, in it's own study of pumpkin butter put up by a number of small, independent canners, not one of the tested jars met the 4.6 or lower pH test. So how come they didn't seek a recall of those "dangerous" jars? I mean, if they aren't acidic enough, and the heat levels couldn't be guaranteed, aren't those jars unsafe by definition?
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2011
  18. sarahg

    sarahg

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    Hi there.  Well, I have been storing garlic for years after I mince it.  I store it in plastic snap tight kinds of containers and I get a week out of it with no problem whatsoever.  It also doesn't hurt to mix in a little olive oil...  
     
  19. mrwills

    mrwills

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    Can i ask why you simmer the garlic in oil?and also you said you put the whole cloves in a container the fridge.Do you cover them in oil?Thank you for your post,cant wait to try this!
     
  20. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Why the drive to store minced garlic?  It's quick and easy to make fresh as needed and frankly, stored minced garlic flavor profile changes. Harsher, more sulfurous.  The flavor alone isn't worth the small convenience gained.