Is using fresh garlic in olive oil good or bad? This post is all about why you should NEVER store fresh garlic in olive oil. Like never.
Now I know you’re on this blog because you are looking for some delicious gluten, dairy and sugar free recipes. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t make you aware of how you can best look after your digestive health in other ways.
You don’t need to be present in the Candida Diet sphere for long before someone mentions garlic and the long list of health benefits and candida-fighting superpowers that it possesses. And yes, these are all very much true!
If you have ever been tempted to infuse some olive oil yourself with a bulb of gut-healing garlic to add flavour and health benefits, beware this could be creating a potential food safety risk.
Just to be clear, raw garlic as a separate ingredient is amazing. But raw garlic sitting too long in olive oil? That can fast become a big no-no.
✨ Does Storing Garlic in Oil Put You at Risk of Botulism?
According to a 2011 article released by the International Association for Food Protection, studies have shown that when fresh garlic is stored in olive oil at room temperature, it can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria, namely botulism, in as little as two hours.
This is because botulism bacteria are anaerobic, meaning it thrives where there is a lack of oxygen. Therefore, when adding fresh garlic (as well as other vegetables such as peppers, mushrooms and aubergine/eggplant) to olive oil, you are creating the perfect environment for trapping bacteria and moisture in an oxygen-free bubble.
I know what you’re thinking – can I still eat pesto?! That is olive oil and fresh garlic! The answer is yes of course, if stored correctly. This is because you would consume fresh pesto right away, or store it in the refrigerator for a short time before use. The issue is when fresh garlic is sitting in olive oil at room temperature for a prolonged period.
I’m sure you’re wondering why then there are so many “vegetable in oil” products sold in jars and cans all over supermarket shelves - at room temperature. The answer is that commercial processors should implement measures recommended by the FDA(US) or FSA(UK) necessary to mitigate these risks. Measures such as using heat or adjusting the salt and acid levels required to make the food inhospitable for the bacteria to survive.
✨ How to Properly Store Garlic in Oil
Here are the top recommendations on how to store your garlic-in-oil concoctions, as well as other vegetables in oils:
- Never store any fresh vegetable in oil dressings at room temperature
- The most effective preservation method is freezing
- Refrigeration is also highly effective at inhibiting most strains of the bacteria. Limit storing your dressings for a maximum of 3 days. This is because the toxins will normally begin to form from 4-10 days, depending on how cold your fridge is.
- Soaking low-acid foods in lemon juice or vinegar may help, however, you would need to be keeping a track of PH levels to control this one, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to carry Litmus tests around with me!
- Finally, use dried vegetables instead of fresh. This is because by minimising the amount of moisture available, you are making it more difficult for the bacteria to grow.
✨ What About Dried Garlic or Roasted Garlic in Oil?
So, we know we should be careful when it comes to storing raw garlic in olive-oil, and there are some ways that we can keep our creations as fresh as possible. What about using roasted or dried garlic, is this also a risk?
The good news is that the effect is not quite the same when using dried or roasted garlic. This is because dried garlic should not have the moisture content required for microbial growth. And in the case of the roasted garlic, roasting at high temperatures is likely to be effective at destroying the botulism bacteria at source.
Nevertheless, the proper safe storage of your garlic in oil recipe as outlined above - whether raw, dried or roasted - would still apply.
💕 We Still Love Garlic
Now I know all of this may sound a bit scary. But this is by no means a reason to put away your cloves for good. There are still plenty of reasons to love garlic. Just by storing it properly, we will get the most out of the superfood.
Here are five reasons why you should LOVE garlic if you’re following a candida diet:
1. For one, garlic is a natural antifungal agent, especially when eaten raw. This means that it can help kill off Candida and other harmful fungi in the body.
2. Garlic is also a natural antibiotic. This means that it can help fight off infection and promote healing. Perfect if you are ill and need a bit of help!
3. Garlic is rich in vitamins and minerals which can help improve your overall health and well-being.
4. Garlic is a great source of prebiotics. Prebiotics are a type of dietary fibre that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. This is important because gut bacteria play a key role in gut health and immunity.
5. Garlic in its many forms is a fantastic source of flavour that is both delicious and can help to reduce the need for added salt in a recipe. It is also so inexpensive making it’s benefits accessible to everyone! Wait, is that six reasons?
So, if you're looking for a way to boost your gut health on the candida diet, add garlic to your list of favourite foods.
Want to enjoy some garlic and olive oil flavours safely? Give this Easiest Olive Herb Dip a try!
💭 Final Thoughts
In conclusion, we would all benefit from adding more garlic into our diets. But I'll be adding my homemade dressings or sauces preferably in the freezer, and if not, in the refrigerator and consuming them within a couple of days.
If you’d like to read the full article by the International Association for Food Protection yourself, you can access it here.