How do you know garlic is bad? Symptoms & Solutions.

Garlic is a common ingredient in many dishes spanning different continents of the world. From pasta sauces, roasted vegetables, to stir-fry dishes, garlic’s distinct aroma and taste make it an excellent choice for flavoring food. However, garlic can go bad and become rancid when not stored properly or exposed to certain conditions. In this article, we will explore the symptoms of bad garlic, its health implications, and the solutions to the problem.

What is Garlic?

Garlic is a member of the onion family, and it has a bulbous composition. It is known for its distinct flavor and smell, which is brought about by the presence of allicin, a sulfur compound contained in garlic cloves.

How does Garlic go Bad?

Garlic can go bad when it is exposed to moisture, sunlight, and heat. When garlic is subjected to these conditions, it leads to oxidation, which causes the breakdown of allicin. When this occurs, the full flavor and nutritional content of garlic are affected, making it less desirable and sometimes inedible.

Symptoms of Bad Garlic?

Garlic that has gone bad is characterized by some distinct features that help identify its degradation. Here is a list of some symptoms of bad garlic:

Fading Flavor

One of the indications of bad garlic is a distinct fading of its flavor. Garlic that has gone bad has minimal to no smell, and it’s bitter to taste.


Garlic will sprout when it has started deteriorating. You can identify sprouting garlic by green stems that form from the cloves. The sprouting of garlic affects the flavor and can also cause the cloves to become soft and rubbery.

Changes in Texture

Garlic that has gone bad can also experience changes in texture. The cloves can become mushy and slimy when touched, and the skin can become discolored and flaky.

Change in Color

Discoloration is an indication of garlic going bad. Garlic that has been exposed to heat, sunlight or moisture causes the cloves to turn yellowish or blue-green. Any color other than the normal pale yellow or white indicates spoilage.

Health Implications of Bad Garlic

Bad garlic can cause an upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting. It can also lead to food poisoning, which has more severe symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and fever.

How to Store Garlic?

Proper storage of garlic is essential in preserving its flavor and preventing it from spoilage. Here are some tips for storing garlic:

Store garlic in a dry, dark place to prevent humidity and exposure to light.

Avoid refrigerating garlic as it increases humidity, which leads to spoilage. Storing garlic in an open basket or container is more beneficial than using an airtight jar.

Do not store garlic near other fruits or vegetables.

Garlic, in particular, emits ethylene gas, which can make other fruits and vegetables ripen faster and cause premature spoilage.

How to Use Garlic in Food Preparation?

When using garlic, it is essential to chop, slice, or crush it as close to the time of use as possible. This is because the allicin in garlic breaks down relatively fast and may lose some of its potent health benefits during lengthy storage.


Garlic is an essential ingredient in many dishes and is known for its distinctive aroma and taste. However, when garlic goes bad, it becomes inedible and may even pose a health risk. Proper storage, handling, and prompt use are crucial in preventing garlic from spoilage.


  • Why is my garlic sprouting?

    Your garlic is sprouting because it’s old or has been stored in the wrong conditions. Garlic that is stored under bright lights, high temperatures, or high humidity is more prone to sprouting.

  • Can I eat garlic that has started sprouting?

    Yes, you can eat garlic that has started to sprout. However, the flavor will be less intense, and the texture might be rubbery.

  • Can I refrigerate garlic?

    You should not refrigerate garlic as it increases humidity and leads to spoilage. Instead, store it in a dry, cool place away from the sun.


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