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Occasionally I'll get a clove of garlic that has small brown spots on it. When there are a couple spots, I cut them off and use the rest of the garlic. Sometimes there will be A LOT of spots and clustered together. Those will get thrown away. The garlic will look and feel fine until I remove the white "skin." It really looks like the garlic has eczema or measles. Does anyone know what these spots are? Is this a form of garlic mold?

garlic with spots

  • I think it's where the garlic got bruised during harvest, and that's the plant hardening off the bruise. – Escoce Apr 14 '15 at 13:50
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    Never seen that. I get "withered/dried out" spots on my stored garlic, but never with raised bumps like that. It's always shrunken/shriveled and still has the texture of the garlic, just desiccated. I just cut them away. This is different-looking. – Ecnerwal Apr 14 '15 at 14:59
  • @Escoce- That is an interesting idea. Is this just a theory or did you read it somewhere? – Sobachatina Apr 14 '15 at 16:03
  • That looks like a strange mold/fungus. Other than rarely seeing a fuzzier mold, I usually only see the sort of brown spots Ecnerwal describes (which seem more like bruises than this). – Matthew Read Apr 15 '15 at 1:44
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The brown spots can be a bruise from handling or a bruise caused by heavy soil. We learned the hard way to avoid planting in heavy clay. Loads of brown spots from cloves trying to swell against hard soil, or a rock or buried root etc. The bacteria get into the bruised clove and quickly discolour it.

We added lots of compost and tried to make our garlic patch soil the lightest, fluffiest texture possible. The softest soil produced the cleanest bulbs. Also far less bruising from harvesting since they pull so easily out of the ground.

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Most of the websites I found say that the brown spots are a sign of the garlic going bad. The excerpt below from wikihow echoes what most say about it.

Check over the clove for any brown spots. Usually if a small spot you can trim off and the garlic is still good. If two or more spots, just pitch it in the trash can and get another clove.

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IMO, its just minor bruising. I rarely discard it unless its really pronounced, or more than, say, 20% of the bulb's surface. The one in the pic? I'd mince it right up with the others.

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If the garlic is otherwise firm and not discolored inside, I just cut away and discard those surface brown spots. So far in my long life this has caused no ill either to me (health) or to my cooking (taste/texture).

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