Suzanne B writes, "How long can you keep garlic? And should I keep it in the fridge? Lately every time I go to get a head out of the fridge it has started to grow green shoots from each of the cloves. Help!"
Answer: Unless you are planning to get a jump-start on this year's seventh grade science project, you'd better throw out that mutant head of garlic. A quick check with my local grocer confirmed that garlic is best kept stored in a cool, dry place. I keep it in a basket on my counter. It will stay fresh for two weeks or more depending on the climate and time of year. A fresh garlic bulb is firm. The outer skin is white without any graying at the base. A peeled clove of garlic is smooth without brown marks or indentations.
Garlic when fresh picked can last up to 6 months when stored in the right conditions. However, you never know how long the bulbs have been stored at the store. Do not store in the refrigerator unless peeled and under oil.
Peel garlic by taking a clove and smashing it (carefully) with the back of a knife. The skin will come off and you can chop the garlic for use in your favorite recipe. A garlic press will mince the garlic and remove the skin at the same time.
If you have whole heads of garlic that are about to reach their freshness limit, you can roast them and save the cloves in the refrigerator for later use. Cut the top from the bulb. Drizzle the whole head with olive oil, a sprinkling of dried oregano, and a twist of freshly ground black pepper. Roast the garlic at 375 degrees on a baking sheet for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the garlic begins to brown. You may also boil peeled garlic cloves in an inch or two of olive oil for 10 to 15 minutes. The oil will take on the flavor of the garlic and the cloves will become sweet. Toss a little garlic oil with some blanched broccoli for a great veggie side dish. Garnish with whole cloves of sweet garlic.