The first important distinction is to know that the garlic you’d buy in the supermarket is technically cured garlic, which means it’s been dried so that the skin shrinks up to form a barrier against damaging moisture. However, you only really need to be concerned with this step if you’re growing the garlic yourself, or know it’s fresh garlic you’re buying.
“Cured garlic will last about 5-6 months,” says Ying, “if stored properly.” Thanks to the skin on the garlic, it has it’s own self-preservation built in, which is why it’s best to leave it alone if you want it to last. Individual cloves with their skin on are more likely to only last a few weeks.
“The best way to store garlic is to keep it whole, without peeling or separating the cloves,” she says, “When you separate a clove from the rest of the garlic it reduces the shelf life and when you peel that clove it significantly reduces that shelf life even more to just a few days.”