Brown Spots On Garlic: What It Means

Brown Spots On Garlic

How do you know when garlic has gone rancid? Can you eat garlic with brown spots? Garlic is a great vegetable to have and it is often tempting to store this but not knowing how quickly they go wrong or why there are brown spots on them can be pretty concerning since it looks similar to mold. You do not want to eat mushy garlic, and you can be weary about those that have turned brown, but brown spots on garlic do not mean mold.

Garlic does happen to have a long shelf life but it can go bad eventually and the last thing you want is to waste it. We can’t deny that many of us get carried away when we see beautiful bunches of garlic and do not hesitate to stock on this versatile ingredient. It is a pungent veggie that goes into practically every savory meal you can imagine.

Brown spots of garlic are not a sign of mold rather it’s the result of bulb mites eating away at the garlic. Garlic that has been in storage for a while is surely going to have small brown spots on the garlic cloves and they are scars that are left behind after the mites finish feeding. Fortunately, these mites are not dangerous and they are simple ways to remove the brown spots and consume your garlic.

There is no doubt that garlic is such an amazing ingredient. It is not surprising that it is one of the most commonly used seasonings in the world and a lot of home cooks and chefs worry about garlic going rancid especially when they have stored so much of it.

It can be confusing to decide when garlic has gone bad. There is no insect infestation throughout a garlic growing season as the pungent smell can easily repel them. However, when it’s in storage then you have to worry about mites leaving marks on them. Read on to find out what brown spots on garlic mean.

Brown Spots On Garlic: What It Means
Image: Kitchenshaman // Wikimedia Commons

Brown Spots On Garlic: What It Means

The brown patches on garlic might look similar to the ones found on onion but unlike with onions, these patches are not mold. Brown spots on garlic are the result of the damage bulb mites leave behind.

Garlic has a long shelf life but stays the happiest when stored in an open container and in a cool dark place with plenty of air. When garlic is not stored properly, bulb mites get easy access to it.

The brown spots on garlic are usually raised, and they are in medium to dark brown colors. You can begin to notice these brown patches after pulling them out of storage, This does not mean your garlic has gone bad, they are simply gotten from bulb mites who slowly eat at your garlic bulb and leave a scar that turns into brown spots.

Bulb mites do not feed on garlic throughout their growing season but only when they are put in storage.

Bulb mites feed on garlic and while they are harmless and your garlic would still be safe to eat these brown spots left behind can cause your garlic cloves to dry out or desiccate quickly in storage. The brown patches can quickly spread over the surface as well built unlike onions, they are not mold, and the insect itself is not toxic.

Is It Still Safe to Eat?

It can be quite concerning to see your garlic covered with brown spots; many people do happen to discard it immediately. Garlic covered in brown spots is, however very safe to consume.

The insect itself is not toxic, and as long as you remove the outer layers of the clove covered with brown spots, you will be able to get rid of the majority of the mites scars and safely consume your garlic. If your garlic has brown spots or the cloves are more yellow than they should be then it is no longer in prime condition and you should discard it.

Bulb mites will cause garlic to dry out, and it will quickly deteriorate as well. While it is safe to eat, It is best to store your garlic properly and if it already has a bulb mite, it is best to avoid eating, it would often lose its normally potent flavor.

You can also kill off the bulb mites and prevent any further damage by soaking your garlic in water that is at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, peel off the infected area and the mites and eggs should be gotten rid of.

Signs That Garlic Has Gone Bad

How do you know garlic has gone bad? Outside the brown spots on your garlic which does not indicate that it has gone bad, there are other signs you have to watch out for. You must watch out for signs that garlic has gone rotten or has been contaminated by things such as mold which is not something you want to consume. Here are signs to look for that would indicate garlic has gone bad.

1. Look For Visual Signs

One of the best and easiest ways to tell if garlic has gone rancid is to check for any visual signs of discoloration. The natural color of garlic cloves is white but when that is completely covered with brown spots, while this can be peeled off, it is still an indication that garlic has gone bad.

Fresh garlic is shiny and slightly moist when you peel it off but when it is dry and there are lots of bad spots on it, that is another sign that you should throw the garlic out. It is best to enjoy your garlic fresh as bad garlic can cause foodborne diseases.

2. Smell it

Garlic does not have the most alluring smell, but rotten garlic tends to have a more pungent smell than usual. If the garlic is rotten, the fresh garlicky smell will become stronger and tasting is believed to indicate that it’s losing its flavor but we do not recommend tasting garlic that is going bad.

3. Look For Green Roots

Another way to check if your garlic has gone bad is to look for green roots. You will notice if your garlic has begun to sprout, although there is nothing wrong with eating garlic that has sprouted some claim the taste is sharper than usual and does not taste the way you think it should.

How to Properly Store Garlic

Learning how to properly store garlic is important if you want to keep it away from bulb mites and also not give your garlic enough reason to sprout. We all agree that we will always need garlic whether from making meatloaf to making the garlickiest chicken recipes. So, proper storage is vital.

Your garlic is best stored in a container with plenty of air circulation. If garlic is stored in an open container in a cool dry place with plenty of air, it can take months before it goes bad. Storing garlic in the fridge might not be a good option as it provides it with an environment to sprout.

However, if you need to store your garlic for long months, then you can freeze it. You should freeze it in the whole clove and keep it in an air-tight freezer-safe bag to prevent freezer burn or moisture loss. In addition, you can also store it in a mesh bag or wire mesh basket.

Final Thoughts

Finding brown spots on your garlic can be annoying and when you can determine whether it has gone bad or not, it can be off-putting.

Garlic like most fruits and vegetables will eventually go bad, how long is dependent on how it is stored. But garlic has a very long lifespan and brown spots on them are not dangerous.

You do not want to eat moldy or mushy garlic, so do ensure that garlic with brown spots is still in good condition and it has not gone rancid. Lastly, if you are not sure about garlic with brown spots or how long it has been in that condition, it is best to discard it.

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