Is mold on garlic dangerous to eat?

Why garlic is so prone to get moldy? Is mold on garlic dangerous? What is the shelf life of garlic? How can you store garlic heads properly to lessen the risks of growing mold?

Here we are to answer all your questions about garlic and its proper storage!

mold on garlic

What types of mold on garlic are dangerous?

The main thing to keep in mind is that absolutely any mold growth on garlic is potentially harmful to people. Both black and white mold on garlic are fungi that appear as visible spots and traces on the surface.

Black mold on garlic is called Aspergillus Niger. These dark spots spreading on the garlic surface are the fruiting bodies of the fungus that are ready to produce new spores. So, if other bulbs in the bag contact with those affected by Aspergillus Niger, there is always a high risk to be infected with all of them.

If you can’t see any mold growth on the garlic clove, there can be still mycelium inside it.

The invisible part of mold can also make you sick, so it’s better not to risk eating the nearby garlic cloves.

White, blue, and green mold on garlic is called Penicillium. This type of mold looks like a fuzzy or powdery substance growing on the bulb.

Penicillium as a living mold on garlic is not safe to eat. Growing on the garlic heads, this mold produces and releases mycotoxins. These chemicals are potentially harmful to people, especially to those who suffer from allergies.

type mold

When does garlic grow mold?

The main culprit of mold growth on garlic is a high level of humidity. Heads can fall off quickly if stored incorrectly. When stored in a place with a high moisture level, garlic becomes a breeding ground for mold growing on it.

In humidity levels that are over 55%, mold and bacteria start to grow and spread.

Besides, low sunlight also fastens mold growth.

Remember that mold grows and spreads faster in humid and dark places.

As a variant, garlic can get moldy because of other food sources stored close to it. If any moldy foods are stored in the same container, mold spores will spread on them.

Having all these circumstances in place, garlic can grow mold in 24-48 hours!

How to define if the garlic is spoiled?

You can easily see the mold growth on garlic that looks like dark spots or white and blue powdery substance. These visible traces are the most common signs of spoiling garlic. However, not always you can define it just by the visible mold signs.

Usually, a clove of spoiled garlic has a mushy and soft texture, so you can understand it before eating. However, if the texture is still firm enough, you can define it with a bitter flavor.

In addition, you can define molds by strange smells. If the bulbs smell sour, rotten, or anything like that, be sure that it has gone off. Any odd smell can’t be a good sign.

In case of these signs, stop eating this garlic immediately and discard it.

If a bulb starts producing green sprouts, it is also not a good sign. The sprout is not dangerous, but it tastes bitter and influences the flavor of the clove. Cut the sprout off to use this clove further.


How to prevent mold growth on garlic?

A crucial point to preventing molds is proper storage. If you keep fresh garlic bulbs in the proper conditions, there are much fewer factors that can develop mold on them.

It is much better to store garlic in unpeeled heads as they have longer shelf life than peeled ones.

Try to store them separately to avoid invasion sites and prevent mold from spreading.

Keep the cloves at low humidity by the optimal temperature of about 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t let it fall below 33 degrees Fahrenheit, as it is a good condition for black mold to develop.

Avoid keeping garlic bulbs along with other fruit or vegetables in the same container. Not only there is a higher risk to develop molds, but also a risk to infect all the veggies within the container.

Peeled garlic is more prone to get moldy and has a shorter shelf life than a whole bulb of garlic. A container of peeled garlic usually has an expiration date on it. Check with this date and try to consume the cloves before then.

When buying peeled garlic, check for discolored or dark spots. If there are some of these signs, opt for another container.


What can you do with spoiled garlic?

Of course, as you can’t eat moldy garlic, the simplest idea is to throw it in the garbage bin. However, you can try one more smart hack on how to utilize garlic with mold growing on it.

Like any other vegetables, you can use garlic as a composting material. It is a natural organic source for growing plants. However, are moldy cloves of garlic dangerous when added to compost?

Avoid using any chemically treated or non-organic garlic bulbs as your garden compost. They can infect the soil with the diseases carried inside.

Use only organic cloves as they are much safer for the soil.

Slice the affected clove into a few rough pieces. Then, add them to the commercial composting systems. They are designed to kill pathogens and bacterial growth.

Also, you can use this compost in the worm farm. Let the worms break down all the ingredients. They will do it before mold starts spreading and turn the moldy heads into great fertile soil.

However, don’t add more than 1-2 heads to the worm farm. The worms are not able to fully break them down before the mold starts taking over.



Can you eat garlic that has mold on it?

Since both types of mold that can grow on garlic are harmful to human health, avoid consuming any moldy garlic with brown spots or white traces on it. It is essential to discard moldy garlic as soon as you notice the first moldy spots on it.

Can moldy garlic make you sick?

Any type of mold on garlic is potentially dangerous for human health. So, if you are tempted to eat several garlic cloves after you scratch away the brown spots or white mold traces on them, never do that!

Consuming mold on garlic can surely make you sick. Scratching the upper parts of the mold doesn’t fully work, as there are still some mold spores and mycelium in the garlic bulb. They produce toxins that are hazardous and not safe for eating.

What happens if you eat moldy garlic?

Both black mold and white mold on garlic are not safe to eat. Even individual cloves that don’t have visible molds can contain their spores.

Consuming molds and mold spores can cause any of these symptoms:
Skin irritation
Asthma attacks
Once having a trace of mold, the whole bulb can’t be safe to eat. That’s why you should eat only fresh cloves of garlic.

Why does my garlic have mold?

By its nature, garlic is a vegetable that contains some moisture. So, if any mold spores can get on a garlic bulb and attach to the surface, it can be a good breeding ground for it. Since mold’s mycelium starts growing on the heads, it can easily expand all over the surface.

The mold’s main body grows unseen, that’s why you can’t define it at the early stages. Those white or black moldy spots that appear on the garlic, as a result, are the mold’s fruiting body, an upper part that produces and spreads mold spores.
That is why you can’t be sure that you can consume the bulbs from a whole lot. If some of the garlic cloves have moldy spots and some don’t, there is still a high risk that spotless cloves can be harmful too.

A good idea is to discard a whole lot of garlic, as you can get sick by eating invisible mold.

Final thoughts

As you already know, any garlic with mold on it is never safe to consume. What is more, the presence of mold is not always visible.

Be careful when buying garlic and don’t forget to check the expiry date. Take care of the proper storage to keep the heads fresh and safe as long as possible.

Read More: Is Moldy Garlic Safe to Eat?

Elizabeth Martin

I am one of the best chefs and I work in a very famous Washington DC restaurant. My main hobby is to complement different dishes with fresh herbs. Almost all of them are grown in my house.

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