I made confited garlic. It was simply garlic simmered in sesame oil. When I opened the mason jar at room temp, it bubbled fairly rapidly, to the point where the oil overflowed. My first instinct was botulism. Could something more innocent cause this?

  • 1
    Is it even worth risking if it's not botulism? I might occasionally eat foods that others on here would say is unsafe and you should dispose of immediately ... but botulism is no joke. Just a little bit can kill you. (not just make you sick, kill you. Especially if you live alone, and no one's there to see the symptoms and rush you to the hospital to get you onto artificial respiration and high-flow O2 (but I still think they might break your ribs if they have to do CPR should your heart gets too weak to pump))
    – Joe
    Jan 8 '18 at 14:30

A jar of garlic in oil at room temperature (whether or not is was simmered first - pressure-canning might be different) is indeed a ripe environment for botulism. I'm not clear why you would store the product at room temperature if you have even a passing familiarity with botulism? If you store garlic in oil, it should be refrigerated. The second link includes a specific mention:

The same hazard exists for roasted garlic stored in oil.

Chuck it. The fact that there could be benign fermentations going on is not worth the risk of the non-benign bacteria and resultant poisoning.

  • Since it was cooked in oil at a higher temperature than the 250 degrees F that you'd get by pressure canning, I imagined that botulism spores would have been killed. Why is this not the case? Is tha
    – cad
    Jan 6 '18 at 3:55
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    If it was not done under pressure it's unlikely that the garlic actually got above 250F, since it has quite a bit of water in it, and that boils at 212F. I doubt it would be appealing if it was cooked to the point that there was no water left - i.e. crispy. In any case, the off-gassing is a very good indicator that you should dispose of it.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 6 '18 at 3:59
  • I see. I was under the impression that botulism spores would be found on the surface of the garlic cloves. Much like how E. Coli is found on the surface of beef, which is why the internal temperature isn't of much concern unless it's ground.
    – cad
    Jan 6 '18 at 4:07
  • Oh, it did get tossed. Botulism or not, there was definitely a ton of microbes in it. Im asking the question mostly out of curiosity, and to maybe avoid the error in the future.
    – cad
    Jan 6 '18 at 4:09
  • 2
    Submerging it in oil makes a lovely anaerobic environment in your kitchen, quite easily and effectively.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 6 '18 at 16:58

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