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Sep 1, 2008 12:51 PM

Garlic in oil, ok or toss before I kill someone?

So, here's the deal. Saturday morning I was prepping a salad for a bbq later that day and I decided to put a whole head of garlic in my morter and pestle, to crush with a little salt and cover with oil, to use up in the next couple days.
I do this ALL the time, and find it quite handy to have around. Unfortunately, we left for the BBQ and left the garlic out on the counter, completely covered in olive oil, but sitting out at room temp. (I always refrigerate the ramekin I store it in, at least after a couple hours).
My question, is it safe to eat, or has it been sitting at a temp where bacteria can grow for too long? -Just saw it this morning -duh!!!
I hate to toss it out, but I'd also hate to make us ill, and hey, it wasn't that time consuming to make.
All thoughts are appreciated!
BTW, it smells good, and the oil it's in seems to have lots of good garlicky flavor. Oh, and it's not blue, which I've read is harmless anyway...

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  1. Hi Rabaja,
    Let me put your mind at ease. Use it up! But if you feel a little unsure, you can heat a little of it (or the whole batch) without the crushed garlic in it. Use it for scrambled eggs, omelets, drizzle over pizza, etc, etc. Two days at room temp shouldn't hurt

      1. re: IndyGirl

        That's what I was afraid of...paralysis, um, yeah, no thanks.

      2. As an alternative for salad dressings try pushing a few cloves into a slightly emptied bottle of white wine vinegar (I add some dried or fresh tarragon as well). After a couple of weeks this will produce vinegar which makes great dressing if used 1 part to 6 (Yes 6, the vinegar seems to carry much more punch, try it!) parts Extra Virgin O. Oil with pleny of salt & pepper.
        I'm pretty sure there are no long term storage issues as you are essentially pickling the garlic.

        1. before i got into chow, and more food research, i would've eaten it. now, knowing what i know, i would not use it. what's it worth? a couple of dollars vs. potential painful death from botulism. hmmmm....let me think........

          see this little artcle (among thousands):

          and katw, i'm not sure (nor can you be) that botulism isn't in the product, and you cannot be sure that heating the oil would kill the toxin. better safe than sorry.

          3 Replies
          1. re: alkapal

            A minor clarification. The reason botulism is so much more hazardous is that while heat may indeed kill the clostridium bacteria in the dish, it does nothing to the toxin the bacteria have been producing. And the toxin is what causes the paralysis ... that's why they call it BoTox.

            1. re: k_d

              Damn, I should have rubbed it on my forehead!!!
              We tossed it, I'll make more tonight. Better safe than stiff and dizzy.

              1. re: rabaja

                i like the "rub it on the forehead" concept. beauty treatment from the olive oil, wrinkle reduction from the toxin.

                one. big. oily. mess! ;-D

          2. I would think that if you had crushed it with salt, the salt would have preserved it. Just my opinion, salt or acid would preserve the garlic and halt the bacterial growth.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jimbosox04

              i'm not a food scientist, but i don't think the salt will kill the bacteria, nor prevent the toxin production. it is the low-acid aspect of the garlic that creates a problem. lack of acidity means a good environment for bad bacteria.

              i found this from the uc/davis folks a quick but thorough primer:

              to me, it is just easy to do garlic in oil by heating it on the stove, then taking the garlic out. i use it up, or pop it in the fridge for a day....
              i guess chopping up that garlic, but leaving it out of the oil, would be fine to keep in the fridge for a day. it is always better freshly cut, though.

              years ago, i had no idea about the garlic-in-oil problem, and put garlic cloves whole into olive oil in an cleaned grolsch bottle. i kept it in my cabinet. and used it! obviously, it didn't kill me, nor even make me sick. i thank the Good Lord for saving me from my own stupidity!