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Someone asked me this question "I sautéed garlic in lot of oil for rabe last night and have some left over. It was not I'm fridge all night. Is it still good?"

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I thought it would be fine. But then I looked it up and am not sure. What do you all think? Thanks in advance.

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  1. its fine. garlic has been in olive oil since the dinos were in diapers. It also sits out of the fridge forever

    14 Replies
    1. re: Locutus

      Uncooked garlic stored in oo can grow botulism. I have no idea about cooked.

      1. re: c oliver

        Can means maybe, means probably not. I have worked in the food industry since i was 14. I have seen garlic in olive oil over a million times and i never heard that OR heard of anyone getting sick.

        1. re: Locutus

          Botulism requires an oxygen free environment to develop. Doesn't sound like that was the case, more of an accidental leaving on the counter or stove, uncovered. I too have been making roasted red peppers for years and years, storing it in an oil filled jar with garlic and parsley, and sometimes holding it for two or three weeks. No deaths reported yet!

          The reason I never worried about it, it has to do with the cleanliness of the garlic to start with. Botulism comes from the soil on the garlic, not the garlic itself. If it was cooked then I would have no worries at all.

          1. re: Locutus

            Just because you've never experienced it or caused someone to be sick doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

            Right from this U of FL page: "Herbs and garlic-in-oil mixtures are potentially hazardous food items. The Food and Drug Administration issued an order to manufacturers instructing them to discontinue production of herbs and garlic-in-oil products that require refrigeration as the only safety precaution."

            1. re: jlbwendt

              But how many deaths a year? Five or ten? Talk about a fluke, probably caused by very poor handling. But if it helps you sleep at night, that's OK too.

              1. re: coll

                I'm not saying it's common, but certainly possible. If you were family of one of the 5-10 dead people I bet you'd take the information a little more seriously.

                I had a former Chef (my boss) land himself and his wife in the hospital because he put some cloves of RAW garlic in a bottle of oil and left it out on his kitchen counter for days.

                In the OP's case...s/he's probably fine.

                1. re: jlbwendt

                  I had a manager at my restaurant give a dozen guests at his home party some kind of food poisoning, he should have known better. Froze the entrée in advance while it was still warm. Luckily no deaths.

                  My roasted peppers are refrigerated from the get go, although I will leave them out for a few hours during the meal. It's good to know the general rules, whether through required classes or your own research. And it's a smart thing to ask when you're not sure.

                  1. re: coll

                    Can you elaborate about the food poisoning? I had thought that best practice was active cooling of cooked foods rather than letting it come to room temp on its own. Which From the sound of it is what the manager did.

                    1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                      You cool it down before storage of course; but if you freeze it before it's room temp, the outside freezes while the inside stays unfrozen way above dangerous levels for a day or two. One of the first things they teach you in foodservice handling courses, which is why it's so shocking to me.

                  2. re: jlbwendt

                    Better chance of being killed in a car each day.

                    1. re: magiesmom

                      What's your point?

                2. re: jlbwendt

                  But we're talking about one night, not months on a shelf or in a cupboard. Is it possible to get botulism from garlic in olive oil that was left out overnight? Probably. It's also possible to contract salmonella from spinach you picked fresh from your own garden. Doesn't mean I wouldn't eat garden spinach. In fact, I'd probably toss the spinach with the garlic and oil first!

                  The world's a dangerous place. I guess we each have to choose how much risk we're willing to take.

                  1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                    Again, I'm not saying the example the OP gave will/won't make them sick, but raw garlic and oil and the right temp can be dangerous. Many people are unaware.

                    1. re: jlbwendt

                      I live in the most "magic house" ever and I leave things at room temp for days at a time. I drink tap water all over the world. I eat raw meat and eggs from unknown sources. But I read enough compelling data here that I will no longer store garlic in oil. A little food poisoning among friends :) is one things, botulism is something else entirely. I think it's actually the equivalent of giving medical advice here (something I've argued against for years) to say it's alright.

          2. I think it should be fine, but I'd reheat it throughly. Heating for 5 minutes at 185ºF (about half the temp it takes for oil to sizzle) kills botulism and most everything else that could have grown in there overnight.

            18 Replies
            1. re: ninrn

              Thank you this is very helpful information.

              1. re: ninrn

                "C. botulinum spores can be killed by heating to extreme temperature (120 degrees Celsius) under pressure using an autoclave or a pressure cooker at for at least 30 minutes. The toxin itself can be killed by boiling for 10 minutes.
                What kills botulism? - UCSB Science Line sqtest - University ...

                So the toxin can be killed but most homes can't achieve 120C under pressure for 30 minutes in order to kill the spores.

                1. re: c oliver

                  For one thing, the text you quote is from Answer #1 on an open Q&A board. It is not definitive, and I don't understand the reference to extreme temperature. 120ºC is only 248ºF. Olive oil boils/sizzles at 300°C (572°F), something we achieve at home every day.

                  The CDC says botulinum can be destroyed by boiling for 10 minutes. That means the boiling point of water: 212ªF, no need for autoclaves or pressure cooking.

                  In food sanitation programs one is told that heating olive oil to 500ºF, or just below sizzling, for 5 minutes destroys the botulinum spores as effectively. But sure, heat it for 10 minutes, to be on the safest side of the safe side.

                  PS: I totally get and appreciate the point that you and jbwendt are trying to make: that raw garlic is often contaminated with a few botulinum spores, that oil creates just the oxygen-free environment those spores need to grow, and that people often don't realize that. I think many people figure oil protects by sealing out the air, as in a confit, not factoring in that anaerobic bacteria thrive in just such a space. But all you have to do is heat it up for long enough and it's gone. I suspect the original cooking the OP refers to was quite enough for that, but a reheat will seal the deal.

                  1. re: ninrn

                    If you will notice upthread, I was clear that I was speaking only of RAW garlic and didn't know if it held true for cooked. And in the reading I've done, commercial garlic infused oils are "acidified" to kill botulism and it isn't recommended that that be done in the home kitchen in case it's not done well enough. Raw. Garlic.

                    1. re: ninrn

                      Not trying to argue....but doesn't olive oil smoke around 400-450?

                      1. re: jlbwendt


                        According to this chart, oo's smoke point is 325-375.

                      2. re: ninrn

                        "Olive oil boils/sizzles at 300°C (572°F), something we achieve at home every day."

                        I hope you have a lot of baking soda lying around. And good insurance.

                        1. re: C. Hamster

                          C Hamster, you, jbwendt and c oliver are right. -- I got the temp numbers wrong, or rather, I confused boiling point (much higher) and smoking point. I think I might have gone astray the same way c oliver did. Rather than simply saying what I knew off the top of my head -- that sizzling olive oil is about twice as hot as boiling water -- I decided to double check, did a hasty internet search, and got it wrong.

                          In any case, the point I'm making still holds. Olive oil reaches a much higher temp than water when heated to a normal sizzle or cooking level, almost double, and that's probably why the recommended time for heating it for decontamination is shorter than for water.

                          And c oliver, you responded to my post to the OP with a statement that suggested most people won't have any way to kill botulism spores at home. I responded to say that's just not true. It wasn't really about whether the garlic was raw or cooked, but even for raw garlic, an autoclave is overkill.

                          Anyway, I think we can all rest easy knowing that this thread has gotten heated enough to have killed all botulinum spores.

                          Happy weekend,

                          1. re: ninrn

                            I'll just go back to my original post and say that no one should store raw garlic in oil.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              + 1

                              It's just plain stupid to risk being on dialysis

                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                And is there anything cheaper than garlic?

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  so, do none of you store left-over food, like meat or vegetables, that have been sauteed with oil and garlic?

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    Since I never knew about cooked garlic, I backed off from that part of the question (which actually WAS the question!). But I think the science is the anaerobic aspect. That the garlic is completely covered with oil thereby creating an anaerobic environment.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      it seems to create a bit of hysteria on this board but is not ever something i've heard discussed in restaurant kitchens.

                                      1. re: hotoynoodle


                                        Here's something from the Univ. of FL extension service. One of the noteworthy things is time. I'm guessing restaurants use it quickly enough. Also I've read that the commercial products have been 'acidified' which makes it safer. I think the issue is the home cook making it up and storing it in the fridge (or even worse at room temp) for weeks or months. So, sure, if you want it for something a day or two from now, go for it. It doesn't occur often but, as I mentioned, giving someone 'food poisoning' is quite different than botulism. I had never given this a moment's thought until a few years ago when I started reading about it here. I have a modest amount of medical/scientific background and this got MY attention.

                                        1. re: c oliver


                                          roughly 20 people per year get food-borne botulism and mostly from home-canned goods. rate of death from botulism is now only 3-5%.

                                          am not trying to discount that it's a terrible illness and can be avoided but way more people get e. coli and salmonella, both of which can also kill you.

                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                            I just think it's a super easy thing to avoid with no downside to it that I can think of. If I want garlic-infused oil, I make it and use it. Easy peasy.

                                        2. re: hotoynoodle

                                          It's taught in ServSafe classes.