Why You Should Never Store Onions and Garlic in the Refrigerator

But onions and garlic are not vegetables with roots – and should not be stored in the refrigerator. One way to reduce food waste is to store food properly. For example, some healthy foods (such as root vegetables) can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks if properly stored.

However, onions and garlic are not root vegetables and should not be stored in the refrigerator. “Onions absorb more moisture in the refrigerator, so they spoil faster,” says Kristen Farmer Hall, chef, and co-owner of Essential and Bandit Patisserie in Birmingham. “Starches also convert to sugar faster in a cold and humid environment, so they become soggy,” she adds.

In the case of garlic, the reasoning is a bit different: according to the University of California, storing garlic in the refrigerator stimulates sprouting. And while sprouting garlic is not harmful to health, it is an indicator that the garlic has already reached its peak quality.

How to store onions and garlic

According to the National Onion Association, instead of putting them in the refrigerator, store whole onions in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area.

Moisture or lack of air movement will accelerate their deterioration, and sunlight will make them sprout. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, whole onions have a good long shelf life of about 30 days when stored properly.

Garlic should be stored in the same way: in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place, according to the University of California. However, it will last longer than onions – from 3 to 5 months in such conditions.

How to store peeled, sliced, and diced onions

These onions should be stored differently than whole onions. Peeled but still intact onions (after removing the outer hard, thin layer of skin) should be stored in the refrigerator and have a shelf life of 10 to 14 days, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

You can also store peeled or diced onions in the refrigerator. Their shelf life is a little shorter: 7 to 10 days, according to the USDA.

How to store peeled garlic

Peeled or peeled, sliced garlic can be stored in the freezer – you just have to wrap it tightly to keep it as airtight as possible.

Garlic can also be peeled and rubbed with a little oil until thick paste forms. The resulting garlic butter paste must be frozen in an airtight container.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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