Garlic, like other organic matter, is susceptible to mould growth under certain conditions. The presence of mould can diminish the quality of the garlic and, in some cases, make it unsafe for consumption.
If you have harvested your garlic, here are some ways to stop the cloves from going bad.
Here’s a breakdown of the scenarios under which garlic can develop mould and how to identify and prevent it:
- Garlic Bulb Mold:
- Garlic bulbs can develop mould when stored in warm, moist conditions. Blue-green or black mold on garlic bulbs is typically a sign of Penicillium decay, caused by the fungus Penicillium hirsutum.
- Another common ailment is white rot, caused by the fungus Sclerotium cepivorum, which results in white, fluffy growth on the bulb’s exterior and may also form black structures called sclerotia.
- Garlic Clove Mold:
- Individual cloves can develop mould if the protective papery skin is damaged, exposing the inner flesh to moisture and contaminants.
- Stored in Oil:
- Garlic stored in oil at room temperature can create an anaerobic environment conducive to the growth of Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria responsible for botulism, a severe form of food poisoning. While not a mould, it’s a significant concern. Garlic-in-oil preparations should always be stored in the refrigerator and used quickly.
- Preventing Mold on Garlic:
- Proper Storage: Store garlic bulbs in a cool, dry place with good air circulation. Avoid keeping garlic in plastic bags or sealed containers where moisture can accumulate.
- Inspect Before Purchase: When buying garlic, ensure the bulbs are firm, with a tight, intact skin, and showing no signs of sprouting or mould.
- Refrigeration: While whole garlic bulbs are best stored in a cool, dry place, cut or crushed garlic should be refrigerated and used promptly.
- Consumption Safety:
- Mouldy garlic can taste off or have a spongy texture. It’s best to discard mouldy garlic to avoid potential health risks.
- While some moulds may be harmless, others can produce mycotoxins, which can be harmful when consumed.
While garlic can develop mould under specific conditions, ensuring proper storage can significantly reduce the risk. Always inspect garlic before use and discard any cloves or bulbs showing mould or decay. Awareness of storage guidelines, especially for garlic-in-oil preparations, ensures safety and freshness.
Brian Sheridan has an allotment in Edgbaston and is a competitive grower. Brian is also a keen photographer and loves cooking. Brian and his wife Mary will also be running a stall at Edgebaston artisan market this year, selling products made from the allotment, including his award-winning relish!