The pungent, zesty flavor of fresh garlic is most intense right after it has been cut. However, properly stored garlic can offer a comparable alternative.
Gently peel the garlic with a very sharp knife, separating the cloves as you progress.
Check each clove carefully for imperfections or softness. Use right away or discard any cloves that exhibit these signs to avoid the possibility of decaying cloves causing the contamination of the entire batch.
Place all of the peeled cloves into an air-tight glass jar with a matching lid that will fit the jar and seal tightly.
Pour the olive oil into the jar, covering the garlic cloves completely with the oil. The garlic will remain fresh as long as the cloves are completely submerged in the oil.
Screw the lid onto the jar until it is hand-tight.
Store the jar of garlic in oil in the refrigerator or in the freezer. It is imperative that the contents remain constantly chilled.
Remove as few or as many cloves as you wish at any given time, but be sure to use them right away.
Return the jar of peeled garlic in oil to the refrigerator or freezer immediately. Do not allow it to sit out long enough to warm up to room temperature.
Peeled garlic can keep nicely in the freezer for several months when it has been covered with oil.
To ensure that your garlic is preserved so that it is safe for human consumption, it is extremely important to follow the instructions above carefully. Storing garlic in oil at room temperature is dangerous, as it provides the perfect conditions for botulism. In North America alone, at least 3 botulism outbreaks have been associated with garlic-in-oil mixtures.