How To Keep Garlic Powder From Getting Hard

Garlic powder is one of the best things to have in your kitchen. However, it does seem to harden up easily. As a Certified Health Coach, I conduct pantry makeovers which sometimes includes food storage. This is a topic I discuss. Have you wondered how to keep garlic powder from getting hard? 

4 easy steps to prevent garlic powder from getting hard:

  1. Store it in an airtight container or jar.
  2. Keep it in a cool, dry area.
  3. Add rice to the garlic powder to absorb extra moisture.
  4. Don’t purchase it in bulk preventing aged powder which gets hard easier.

In this article, we’re taking a look in detail at the above steps and why this problem may occur. Understanding why is part of the process preventing it from happening in the first place. In addition, I’ll inform you what to do if you already have powder that became hard.

3 Reasons Why Garlic Powder Gets Hard

The first step to preventing anything from happening is to know the cause. So, when it comes to keeping your garlic powder properly, you first need to know why it happens.

Garlic powder gets hard because it absorbs moisture easily. When it absorbs moisture, it bonds the powder together forming a solid. The process of attracting and absorbing moisture is called hygroscopy.

The following are three reasons why garlic powder gets hard:

  1. Exposure to moisture.
  2. Keeping the garlic powder for too long.
  3. Storing it in an unsealed jar or container.

Those are the three most common causes for this problem. It’s important to take a quick look at each three in more detail.

Infographic indicating how to prevent garlic from getting hard

Moisture

Moisture affects almost every single spice. This is because spices are hygroscopic. Basically, what hygroscopic means is, the moisture can be easily absorbed 1.

Anything with the hygroscopic property can pull moisture out of the air rather than simply just be affected by it at random. Calcium chloride is so hygroscopic, it eventually dissolves in the water it absorbed.

Age

This might seem very unobvious because many times spices are kept for months and years without even realizing it. The aged spices are okay but in reality, the longer you keep your spices, the more likely they are to clump.

The average lifespan of spices is around 2-3 years. That’s if they are kept in airtight containers or plastic bags and stored at good temperatures. If there is even a slight imperfection in the packaging, the spices probably won’t last as long.

Unsealed Jar/Container

This cause is associated to the previous two reasons because it contributes to them. We already mentioned if there is a slight imperfection in the packaging the spices might end up losing its softness.

Once you have opened the garlic powder, it’s important to keep it in a sealed jar or container 2. If you don’t do this, the powder will become firm quickly. This is especially true if you live in a humid climate.

garlic powder in unsealed jar
Garlic powder in unsealed jar

The Best Way to Keep Garlic Powder Soft

In the section, we’re examining the four steps mentioned at the start of this article. These steps are necessary to preventing hardness and clumping.

Store it in an Airtight Jar or Container

This step mostly applies to people who buy their garlic powder in packets or sachets and then transfers it. Always make sure wherever you transfer it to, it has a proper seal to it 3.

This is why it’s recommended you do not throw away your old spice jars because they are specifically designed to keep moisture out of the jar. 

If you don’t have any spare spice jars lying around, you can go to superstores like Walmart or even the dollar store. In addition, they sell many decorative ones on Amazon at affordable prices without leaving the house.

If you’re keeping the spice in its original container, be sure to keep it sealed when not in use.

garlic powder getting hard
Garlic powder starting to get hard

Keep it in A Cool and Dry Area 

The next step to preventing hardness or clumping is to store it in the proper area of your home.

Avoid storing it in an area having heat like next to the stove 4. You will be surprised at how many people do this. In addition, if you have a spice rack, make sure it’s not in the sunlight.

Kevin Garce storing his garlic powder in a cool dark place in a sealed container
Storing my garlic powder in a cool dark place in a sealed container

Try storing it in a cabinet or a dedicated spice area which is out of the sunlight and dry.

People in extremely humid locations store theirs in the freezer or refrigerator. It’s probably the coolest, driest place you can find.

The following video explains how to keep garlic powder from getting hard.

Add Rice to Absorb Moisture

This may be the most important tip to preventing this problem. In fact, I won’t be surprised if some of you already do this for your salt.

Place a few grains of rice, not more than a teaspoon, into the spice jar along with the powder. Rice also has hygroscopic properties but it’s more efficient at pulling in moisture than garlic powder. The rice absorbs the moisture more efficiently and helps keep the spices dry.

With the rice in the jar, you can give it a good shake every now and then. This will stop any hardening in its tracks if it’s already started.

Don’t Purchase in Bulk

Garlic powder has a shelf life of two to three years 5. Even though it lasts a long time, don’t buy many at once. It goes a long way and you’ll be surprised how long one container can last.

If you buy a bunch of containers at once to save money, odds are one of them, will turn old and increase the chances of clumping.

dry garlic powder
Garlic powder

What To Do If Garlic Powder Gets Hard

Let’s say you took the necessary precautions or not, and discovered it clumped together. In this section, we’re taking a look at some things you can do to soften it back.

  • Place the closed jar or container in hot water to heat it up. 
  • Open the jar and scrape the powder with a utensil like a small spoon. Loosen it as much as you can. 
  • Place a teaspoon of uncooked rice into the jar and shake it vigorously.
  • If it’s still clumpy when removed from the jar, place it in a plastic bag and gently hit it with a steak tenderizer.

My favorite solution is the one with adding rice because I found this works the best. Using a steak tenderizer is also a great option but you first have to remove the spice from the jar. In addition, the plastic bag can break and create a mess.

If it was stored in a container, it can still be scraped and shook up with the rice inside.

The following video explains what to do with spices and garlic powder which already got hard.

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If you have any questions about this article don’t hesitate to email us. You can find an email on our contact page.

Read Next – More Garlic and Spice Articles

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Can You Store Cinnamon in the Fridge?

Ceylon Vs Cassia Cinnamon: Which is Better?

Article Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. ScienceDirect: Hygroscopy[]
  2. Iowa State University: Herbs and Spices – part ll[]
  3. University of Delaware: Using Herbs And Spices[]
  4. Ohio State University Extension: Pantry Food Storage[]
  5. Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources: Food Storage[]

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