Mold garlic should be thrown away because it may not be safe to eat. Mold growing on garlic can cause people to become sick if it is eaten. Some mold spores can produce toxins which are not safe to eat. While not all mold growing on garlic is harmful, it is hard tell the difference between the species at home.
To be on the safe side it is always best to throw away moldy garlic and start with fresh cloves. It is not worth the risk of getting sick.
This article will explore more about why garlic grows mold, how to keep it fresh for longer and what to do with moldy garlic.
Should you throw away moldy garlic?
Garlic will start to develop mold if it is stored in an area exposed to moisture or if it has been sitting around for a long time. Mold growth can be white, blue or even black and is evidence that spores are present and growing.
The mold that you see is the visible fruiting body of the organism. The mycelium or main body of the fungus will still exist even though you can’t see it.
This is similar to the way that mushrooms grow. The large mycelium will exist underground and the fruiting bodies or the mushrooms sprout out when the fungus is ready to reproduce.
It is best to throw out or compost all of the garlic in the bag or basket if some have gone moldy. The mycelium can exist on the garlic without you being able to see it. Some visible mold on any of the garlic heads is a good sign it could be on others.
What happens if I eat moldy garlic?
Any type of mold eaten on garlic can may you sick. You may notice a bitter flavor or a soft texture on the garlic.
While not all molds are dangerous it is very difficult to tell what mold is on your garlic without testing. It is best to avoid eating moldy garlic and just throw the lot away.
Why garlic grows mold
Garlic is a vegetable which contains moisture. When it is exposed to air, mold spores can attach and grow on the garlic. The mycelium is the main body of the mold which can grow and expand unseen on the cloves.
The mold that appears is the fruiting body of the mold organism which allows them to spread their spores and reproduce.
Garlic that is kept exposed to light, air and moisture is more likely to grow mold. The mold spores can travel to the garlic through the air or from other fruit and vegetables the garlic is stored with.
If the garlic or any other vegetables and fruit in the same container start to turn moldy, throw the whole lot out. Eating mold can make you sick so it is best to avoid consuming it.
What to do with moldy garlic
Moldy garlic can be crushed or chopped into pieces and dug through your compost if it comes from an organic source. Dig it through the compost and allow it to break down. Cutting the garlic cloves in pieces is important as it can resprout.
You can break up organic, moldy garlic heads into individual cloves and plant them in your garden. They may not sprout if the mold is too far advanced but it can be worth trying.
Avoid adding chemically treated or non-organic garlic to your compost or garden as it could carry disease that could stay in your soil.
Moldy garlic cloves that are grown organically can also be added to your worm farm. Cut the cloves into rough pieces and add it to the top of the soil. The worms will break down small amounts of garlic, garlic skin and leaves.
Avoid adding more than 1-2 heads of garlic at a time to your worm farm otherwise the worms are unlikely to break it down before the mold takes over.
Moldy garlic that is not organic should be thrown in the trash. Put it in your garbage bin or if you have a green bin that is commercially composted it can go in there. Commercial composting systems will kill off any bacteria or pathogens being carried by the garlic.
How do I know if garlic has gone bad
Here are my easy tips to figure out if your garlic has gone bad.
1. Look for visible mold
The first step is to closely inspect your garlic cloves. If you see white, brown, black, blue or even green mold spots it is best to throw the garlic away. If the garlic is in a bag or bowl with other fruit it is best to get rid of the whole lot to remove the mycelium.
2. Look for brown, squishy cloves
Check the base of your garlic head and look out for any brown spots. Any soft or squishy cloves can be a sign that the garlic has rotten. Throw away the head of garlic as the taste and texture will not be good for your cooking.
3. Smell the garlic
Smell the garlic and make sure that it has a fresh and garlicy smell. Any acidic or rotten smell is a sign that the garlic could be growing mold or is rotting and is no good to eat.
How to keep garlic fresh and mold free for longer
Here are my easy tips to keep garlic fresh and mold free for longer at home.
- Make sure homegrown garlic is dried for 3-4 weeks before storing
- Store in a dark cupboard with some air flow
- Avoid storing fresh garlic cloves in with other older fruit or vegetables
- Store garlic cloves in the fridge in hot weather
- Leave whole garlic heads with the skin on to protect the cloves
For more on how to store garlic, check out the video below.
Is Moldy Garlic Safe to Eat? | Summary
Moldy garlic is not safe to eat and it is best to throw it away. There is the chance that you could get sick if you eat mold spores. Some mold will produce toxins that can make people sick so it is not worth the risk. Store your garlic heads whole in a cool, dark cupboard and put them in the fridge if the weather is hot and humid.
Garlic is a delicious vegetable to add to your cooking and it is easy to grow at home.
To find out if garlic is really a vegetable, check out my article here: Is Garlic a Fruit or Vegetable?
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.