There are many reasons to eat garlic. And while many love the taste, garlic also provides an array of health benefits. So it makes sense to eat and enjoy garlic in a way that will maximize its nutritive potential. Chopping garlic helps increase the healthy, potentially disease fighting nutrient called allicin. Storing garlic correctly then helps maintain allicin’s healing potential. Follow these tips, and your garlic will become an immunity boosting, anti-inflammatory powerhouse.
1. Should you let garlic sit out before using? One of the health promoting components found in garlic is this enzyme that allows the formation of allicin. The trick is that chopping your garlic is needed for allicin to form. This process takes up to 10 minutes. For this reason, you must chop garlic 5 to 10 minutes before using. Consume or cook with garlic right away and your garlic won’t live up to its full protective, disease fighting potential. I first learned this one from George Mateljan’s fabulous book The Worlds Healthiest Foods. This is a great book and you can learn more from him about preparing and cooking healthy foods here.
Maximize the health value and the allicin formed by chopping the garlic into tiny pieces. This allows more allicin to form. A great way to achieve this is with a good garlic press. Check out some of these great press options below. All of these would do a great job at maximizing your garlic’s allicin formation:
2. Raw garlic versus cooked garlic? Including raw garlic in your daily regimen is considered advantageous. Many of the cancer fighting, cardiovascular supporting enzymes found in garlic are destroyed by the cooking process. A better way to maintain the nutrients when using garlic for a cooked recipe is to first chop it. Once the allicin has formed, add the garlic in the last few minutes of cooking. This will protect the garlic from getting burnt. The reduced cooking time will also mean that fewer of the developed enzymes will be destroyed.
3. How long can you refrigerate chopped garlic? While letting garlic sit for a few minutes increases its health potential, letting it sit too long does quite the opposite. While chopped garlic will stay edible and fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week, the enzymes begin to lose their potency in just a few hours. A general recommendation is to store chopped garlic for a maximum of 12 hours. The garlic will taste fine once this window passes, but your cells will be missing out on much of what garlic can provide.
4. What about garlic in olive oil storage? This is an important one. Storing homemade chopped garlic and olive oil at room temperature can actually lead to botulism. This is a very real threat and it increases the longer that the product is stored. Pretty scary stuff. If you make more than you can use, always refrigerate leftovers and discard after a week. Additionally, be careful when cooking with garlic olive oil not to use high heat. Both garlic and olive oil are meant for low to medium heat at most and the mixture will be at high risk to become burnt and rancid.
Enjoy garlic. It is one of the healthiest foods out there. It has many healing powers from cancer prevention to immunity support to cardiovascular protection. Consuming garlic is one of the best ways to use food to fight the common cold. Just make sure that you are getting everything you can out of your garlic. Follow these tips for chopping and storing garlic to maximize allicin and get the most out of its health potential.
Thanks Erica. I am pretty up on the health benefits of herbs, including garlic but you added to my knowledge. I did not know about letting garlic sit for 5-10 minutes before using. I do prefer to use it raw when possible and often sneak it, finely chopped, into a salad. I also know about garlic stored in oil. Oil is not a preservative as many people think, so good for you for pointing that out.
Like you, I love garlic chopped into a salad! I also sometimes sneak it into a smoothie but it is a little smelly. I only do it when I’m drinking in private! 😉
Kelly Jordan says
I learned about ‘garlic shots’ via the web. Chop, or press your garlic cloves, wait…….
Fill spoon with garlic, into mouth, wash down with water. Repeat till all garlic consumed.
Take a 2 tsp cod liver oil afterwards to coat the stomach.
I do it everyday with a meal.
Tunde Aroloye says
My boss claims that eating Garlic with Honey neutralizes the odour.
I haven’t tried it yet, because real Honey is a bit hard to get a hold of where we are.
Ken Dowell says
It is very rare that I would make a dinner and not use some garlic in something. While I usually chop it I didn’t know anything about the advantage of doing so ahead of time. Will be mindful of that in the future. Good info.
I think you are in good company with not knowing to wait Ken. Its just a little thing but it makes a big difference!
Jacqueline Gum says
I love garlic! But find that as it bothers my gut more these days! Hmmmm…. I still use it in most everything, but less of it. I still haven’t figured this out!
Jacqui, if you are sure that it is garlic causing your gut problems, try completely eliminating it for a few months. (I know that kind of totally sucks). Then try to see it if you can use it in small amounts without it upsetting you. We often need breaks from foods from time to time, but often after a break, you can return to a food without side effects.
Often when I have an ilment or bad bacteria inside of my body, my stomach hurts when eating raw garlic. This however, passes as I continue eating raw garlic. I feel it is an indicator that the garlic is actually desinfecting your stomach and the burning sensation is the feeling of the process.
When I am completely healthy I don’t have anymore this pain in my stomach.
Thanks for your perspective, Zoe
Donna Janke says
I love garlic and use it a lot in cooking. I did not know about the chopping and letting sit 10 minutes before using. I will be doing that now.
Hi Donna. Glad you learned something new! Thanks for commenting.
I have always loved garlic and use it frequently. Thanks for the tips on its preparation though as I had no idea about the 10 minute rule for optimization.
Your welcome Tim. I’m glad there are others out there who love garlic like I do!
Erica, I’ve been using the raw garlic cloves shredded in my coffee/spice grinder for 2 months now. I prepare it go take my shower come out and consume it and chase with water. Is their anything else I can do to optimize the benefits?
Mahal Hudson says
I love garlic! Really! I put that in everything (well, almost) especially that I have been changing my diet.
I do love how garlic gives everything flavor. It really is great to use when transitioning to a “better” diet.
Sabrina Q. says
I love garlic. It is so much easier for me to digest than say, onions. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for commenting Sabrina. Garlic is one of my favorites too!
A. K. Andrew says
I’m a big fan of raw garlic and use it with cayenne hot water and honey whenever I have a cold , or the flu. But I had no idea about the Allicin so that’s really interesting. And thanks so much about the tip re: avoiding seeping it in olive oil, which I’ve often thought of doing but never got round to.
It sounds like you’ve put together a great cold remedy! Glad that the olive oil tip helped. I know it totally doesn’t sound like it should be dangerous to leave garlic in olive oil so it is a good one to know!
Susan Cooper says
I LOVE garlic but had no idea that letting it set for 5-10 minutes after chopping would increase the health benefits. Thanks for the tip on how to get the most out of it.
Interesting, Erica. Love garlic but because it has a negative influence on the tyroid gland I have cut down enormously. Have actually, chopped garlic for year. But I have to admit that I don’t leave it for 5-10 minutes before adding it to a sallad or whatever.
Hi Catarina. Well, it is good the you know your body and how things affect it. It is great to honor what your body wants (or doesn’t want) at any given time.
Christine Larsen says
What a great tip about the 5-10min. delay-before-use factor Erica, and so easy to start a recipe chopping the garlic first. Love it! I once read about a chef (French I think), who swallowed a whole clove of garlic once a day and had not been sick with anything in two decades! Haven’t been game enough to follow that one, but your is definitely do-able for we garlic-gourmandisers of the world.
Wow Christine. I’ve never heard the story about the French chef. Did he swallow it whole? I would be scared I would choke, but it sounds like he knew what he was doing. Thanks for commenting!
William Rusho says
What a great blog. I have used garlic before in my cooking. I never knew the health issues of leaving it too long. Thanks for sharing this information.
Thank you William! Glad this was helpful!
Meredith @ The Palette Muse says
Wow, this is almost all new information to me. I’d heard it was good for you but didn’t know how to bring it the best of it. Thanks!
Yes, and I would say it is still good for you, even if you don’t let it sit. This just makes it better!
FYI: Allicin is actually not an enzyme but rather the product of an enzymatic reaction.
Point taken. Thanks!
Doreen Pendgracs says
Thx for this terrific post, Erica! As a Ukrainian-Canadian, I grew up eating lots of garlic, and still consume a lot. But I never knew that you should cut it 10 minutes prior to cooking in order to let the allicin form! Very useful information!
Have you tried different kinds of garlic? I really LOVE the purple garlic that we can “Ukrainian garlic” here in Manitoba. It is much firmer than other varietals and dries much better for storing. And the flavour is much more developed. I love it, but it’s always in short supply because it only seems to be grown by artisan farmers.
Doreen, you have totally inspired me. I’ve never had purple garlic and now I must try it! I have tried some different types of garlic (black garlic I think) and I will say garlic in any form makes food yummy. I will be on a quest to find purple garlic ASAP!
Beth Niebuhr says
I love garlic and so does my husband. It will be a simple change to be sure to let it sit for 10 minutes after chopping. I appreciate this hint.
If both you and your husband like garlic, I’m sure you use it a lot. Glad you find the tip useful!
Oh I love garlic! I use it a lot when I am cooking. Didn’t know about the chopping and letting it sit 10mins before use. We learn everyday! I will be doing that when I am cooking dinner tonight. Thanks Erica x
I’m so glad this was helpful…especially if you are like me and love using garlic!
Jason Butler says
I use garlic a lot when I’m cooking pasta. I need to use some of these tips and make sure I store it better.
Garlic and pasta is the best! Mmmmmmmm…
Kire Sdyor says
Erica, I have officially NOT done anything correctly when it comes to garlic. Going to have to re-evaluate my cooking habits.
No worries Kire! There is always time for a fresh start!
Pamela Chollet says
I use a lot of garlic when I cook. I knew so little about how to use it in order to get its maximum benefits. I’ve always used right from the refrigerator and stored the garlic leftover until I needed it again.
Hi Pamela. I think we’ve all done that at a time. It just becomes so convenient. But yes, it is good to know that the other way is better.
Mina Joshi says
We use garlic in a lot of our cooking. I do tend to add garlic to my curry towards the end of cooking simply because I did not like it getting burnt when added to the oil. Now I will make sure that I let it sit for 5-10 minutes before adding it to my curry. I never keep garlic cloves in the fridge and only peel the cloves as I need them.
Hi Mina. Good for you in adding it at the end. I used to start with the garlic but I don’t anymore now that I know better.
Erica, this is really useful information! I have been told by my health practitioner to take Allicidin (fermented garlic in a capsule) and to eat garlic as well. I ferment garlic (when I make pickles). I’ve heard that’s the best format. Now I have good tips on chopping the garlic also. Happily, my daughter is a garlic fan, too.
Lita Watson says
Can i use vinegar to store the garlic in glass jar? How long will it last in refrigerator if i grind dried garlic and make garlic powder?
I’ve never stored in vinegar myself, but it is supposed to be OK because of the acidity. Definitely safer than olive oil. But again, I’ve never done it. I would say not to keep anything made with fresh food without preservatives for more than a week.
I was wondering… if i juice garlic uisng a centrifugal juicer must i wait a few minutes for the allicin to form. And i was wondering …..in the past when i crushed garlic with a garlic press and waited 15 minutes it burned quite a lot after using my garlic press but recently all the garlic i keep buying isn’t giving me any to little burning/stinging when consumed does this mean it’s less effective and i try to pick out the freshest bulbs i see when shopping what should i do?
As long as you let the garlic sit for at least 10 minutes, it should be fine for its healing properties. It doesn’t have to burn when consumed. I’ve heard that you should always consume juice right away. However, I don’t know about the formation of allicin when juicing. I always slice the garlic first, let it sit, and then juice it.
Thanks everyone for the info on taking Garlic, have recently started and love the stuff
Sally Whitfield says
Nice post and job well done on educating others. One of my family members hated the smell of raw garlic (must be a vampire LOL) so I stopped ingesting it for a while and started taking garlic supplements instead. Got a couple of colds for the first time in YEARS doing that. Now back to the raw garlic …. I do not care who doesn’t like it. TO BAD FOR THEM!!!
Kim D Powell says
I’ve used garlic in my bath water for about a year or so now. It has saved my life literally. I use to have to go into the hospital to get I.V. antibiotics but not anymore. To bad dr.s doesn’t tell you the benefits of this miracle herb.
Glad to hear that garlic baths have been so helpful!
Have been eating garlic my whole ll life. Past 5 years every morning I chop enough for 2 huge tablespoons and let sit for 15 mins. Swallow it with water, like taking pills, first thing in morning to clean your system. At 68yrs old I take no medication. BP and cholesterol is perfect. Love garlic!
Great advice, shame about all the Amazon ads!
I have found out about waiting the 5-10 minutes to allow for the chemical reaction to develop but I also have been taking 2 cloves and mixing with a tablespoon of honey first thing after waking instead of coffee or anything else consumed I take my garlic and honey and swallow. I wait an hour before I eat or drink anything for breakfast to give this time to work on my system and I am doing this for 7 days. I also ferment garlic and raw honey which is very tasty! but it takes a little time for this to ferment so those that wish to try it need to look it up and get it started so they can enjoy it also! one more thing don’t chew before you swallow the garlic in the morning because it will make you feel sick to your stomach. thanks for all your info and encouragement. joanie
Love the flavor & bennifits of raw garlic does powder have any bennifits. Besides flavor.
Danny HENSON says
Great article. What I cannot find is, must you chop/cut “FERMENTED” garlic and and allow to rest for the allicin benefit. Thank you.
Hi there, I live in the UK. I have been buying garlic to press from M&S.
Today I have a net of their Organic garlic from Argentinia.
Just wondering which country produces the garlic with the highest potential allicin content?
Also, is there is any difference between using individual cloves that have a white outer layer or a “reddish purple” outer layer? The Argentinian garlic I have now has white covering.
Last week I had M&S garlic from Spain that had the reddish purple clove husks.
Any info would be really helpful.
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