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Buying pre-peeled/crushed/sliced garlic is great because it saves so much time during prep -- hand-peeling and crushing garlic in the midst of of everything else is a big time sink. However, I've been told that pre-peeled garlic is one of the things that spoils quickest and is one of the leading causes of food poisoning.

Can anyone confirm this? And if so, what's an appropriate shelf-life for refrigerated pre-peeled garlic?

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Knowing that I had a lot of use for garlic coming up, and seeing a big bag (whole peeled cloves, refrigerated) for very little money at Sam's Club, I looked at the "best by" date. It was a month out. That worked for me. I bought it and it's still going strong three weeks later. –  Jolenealaska Nov 4 '13 at 22:17
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There's no way that refrigerated pre-peeled garlic is a leading cause of food poisoning. Garlic left at room temperature in anaerobic conditions (e.g. in olive oil) is the most common cause of botulism specifically, but still very rare in the big picture - and I don't think I've ever heard of a confirmed case of botulism when the garlic was refrigerated. I've never tested the shelf life, but I'm pretty sure you'd see visible signs of spoilage before it became actually unsafe. –  Aaronut Nov 5 '13 at 0:39
    
Instead of leaving it whole, mash/process it, mix 5 parts mashed garlic with 1 part salt and 1 part oil, put in small (even tiny) jars, pasteurize, refrigerate and you see many years of shelf life closed and at least a month or two opened. –  SF. Nov 5 '13 at 6:45

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According to one farm (Christopher Ranch), theirs lasts 7 weeks from the packaging date, and has a "best by" date on it.

I doubt this is identical for all sources, but it seems like a decent baseline.

As for botulism, I'm pretty sure what you've heard was related to keeping peeled garlic unrefrigerated in olive oil, which used to be a common practice, and is dangerous. Here's the original report on the incident that started it, and this article has more info on safe handling practices.

From my experience, it'll start to turn slimy and lose its texture and flavor near the end of its shelf life, and you won't want to keep using it. But as for health risks, you don't have much to worry about as long as you're keeping it in the fridge.

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