Nothing compares to the flavour of fresh garlic. There is a noticeable difference between fresh garlic and older garlic used in cooking. Depending on the type of garlic you buy and how it was first cured, well-stored garlic bulbs can last an average of six months before they start to deteriorate. How long a bulb of garlic lasts will typically depend on four factors: type of garlic, how it was store, the temperature it is stored at and the level of humidity.
Select a long lasting type of garlic. The length of time a bulb of garlic can last depends a lot on the type of garlic you purchase. Immature garlic known as "new season" garlic will only last about a week, if stored in the refrigerator. However, most types of garlic have the ability of being stored for much longer. Rocamboles can typically be stored for about 5 to 6 months while Silverskins can be stored for up to 8 to 10 months.
Choose the best garlic bulbs you can find. Again this step for storing garlic happens while you are still in the supermarket. The garlic that you select should have no visible sprouts (a sure sign that the garlic is too ripe), should feel firm to the touch and have plenty of dry paper-like coverings. You may notice that much of the garlic you find is too ripe. Consider purchasing your garlic elsewhere, perhaps at your local farmers market. The USDA requires that garlic be stored at 32 degrees Fahrenheit to keep them fresh. However, once they are placed on the shelves for sale, the garlic quickly deteriorates. Garlic stored in this way is highly unlikely to last up to 6 months.
Store the garlic at room temperature. As you've seen, temperature plays a key role in the storage of garlic bulbs. While 00 degrees Celsius might mean you can store your garlic for a while, once it has been removed, it needs to be used immediately. For storing fresh garlic bulbs that you can use whenever you feel like, the best way to store the garlic is between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Any higher and they are prone to pests. Most owners will find it difficult to store bulbs at this temperature. However, storage outside of the refrigerator, in a cool, air conditioned environment will work.
Store in a dry environment. Another major reason why refrigeration of garlic bulbs is discouraged is due to the fact that humidity can cause the bulbs to deteriorate. Instead, garlic should be stored in a cool, dry environment with plenty of air flow. Plastic bags are not recommended because they restrict air flow. The ideal way to store garlic is either in a terracotta container, an open brown paper bag or a cardboard box, all of which encourages airflow.