Garlic is a versatile seasoning and a pantry staple with a number of health benefits, and if you store your bulbs properly, you can make your fresh garlic last that much longer. A great way to ensure that the sweet, pungent flavor of garlic comes out in your dishes is to ensure that you're using a product that is fresh and properly stored.
When you select garlic at the market, make sure that the cloves in the bulb are tight and firm. Avoid bulbs with green sprouts as they are likely older. If there is mildew on the paper covering the bulb, the garlic has likely been stored improperly.
The easiest way to ensure that the garlic you pick up at the market stays fresh until you are able to use it is to store it properly. Promptly remove garlic bulbs from any plastic produce bags. These will trap moisture and encourage mold growth. Cool, dark places with ventilation are the best for storing garlic like an uncovered dish in a cabinet. Do not store garlic bulbs in the refrigerator as this will cause them to decompose more quickly.
To even further extend the shelf life of your garlic, there are simple clay garlic storage pots that are covered and include holes for ventilation as well. The clay helps to absorb moisture that would otherwise cause gradual decomposition. Most are relatively inexpensive and will further extend the storage time for garlic.
Eventually, your garlic will start to take a turn for the worse if you don't use it after a few weeks. If you notice green shoots coming out of the bulb, you won't want to use the garlic because it will taste bitter. The garlic cloves can be salvaged in a pinch, however, by removing the sprouts and the green vein that runs through the middle of each clove.