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Old 01-31-2009, 06:22 PM   #31
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Botulism threat is incredibly low

I know this link is very old, but it comes up pretty high in the google search, so I figured I'd update.
There seems to be a lot of cautioning about storing garlic in olive oil, but I have to say that the risk is incredibly low, like struck by lightning while spelunking low.
See the Center for Disease Control website discussion of Botulism:
It doesn't let me post urls yet, so search the CDC website for botulism.
Below I have pasted a pertinent paragraph. First though, the stats. There are about 145 cases of botulism, of which 15%, or 22 are foodborne. If you look at the paragraph below, particularly what is bolded, you can see that there have probably been about 3 cases from garlic in oil ever. And there is a 3-5% death rate for botulism cases in the US.
I'm not saying to not be careful, but you really have to look at the facts before becoming concerned and raising alarm. You would probably reduce your risk of illness more by taking a shower and soaking in sanitizer every time you go to the bathroom than you would by not eating garlic stored in oil. Or for a more realistic comparison, you could probably reduce your risk of injury by taking one fewer trip to the store in a car each year. >40,000 people killed by cars every year and many many more injured. I don't want to seem like I'm attacking anyone here, but just want to put things in perspective.

Botulism can be prevented. Foodborne botulism has often been from home-canned foods with low acid content, such as asparagus, green beans, beets and corn. However, outbreaks of botulism from more unusual sources such as chopped garlic in oil, chile peppers, tomatoes, carrot juice, improperly handled baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil, and home-canned or fermented fish. Persons who do home canning should follow strict hygienic procedures to reduce contamination of foods. Oils infused with garlic or herbs should be refrigerated. Potatoes which have been baked while wrapped in aluminum foil should be kept hot until served or refrigerated. Because the botulism toxin is destroyed by high temperatures, persons who eat home-canned foods should consider boiling the food for 10 minutes before eating it to ensure safety. Instructions on safe home canning can be obtained from county extension services or from the US Department of Agriculture. Because honey can contain spores of Clostridium botulinum and this has been a source of infection for infants, children less than 12 months old should not be fed honey. Honey is safe for persons 1 year of age and older. Wound botulism can be prevented by promptly seeking medical care for infected wounds and by not using injectable street drugs.
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Old 01-31-2009, 06:23 PM   #32
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Ahh, I just saw that the most recent post was not that long ago... nevermind my comment on this being an old thread...
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Old 01-31-2009, 08:26 PM   #33
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I just don't see why anyone would chop garlic ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator, in oil or otherwise. Aside from the risk of botulism poisoning, which can be deadly, it strikes me as a total waste of time, effort, and storage containers.

Fresh garlic is best, no question about it. And with all due respect to Buckytom, I won't touch that gunk that comes in jars.

Fresh garlic is easy to peel -- pull a couple of cloves off the head, put them on the cutting board, lay the side (not the cutting edge) of a knife on top of a clove, and give it a whack with your hand, hard enough to smash it a little. The skin will then come right off. Use a garlic press to crush it into your sauce, or chop it with a knife if you prefer. It takes only seconds.

If you don't have a press, try this one, which is only $16.95 from Amazon:

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Old 02-03-2009, 06:55 PM   #34
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I had some ginger start to mold on me, so the next time I bought it, I pulsed it in a processor and added a cup of wine (white dry) in a plastic container with a lid. I would have used sherry if I had had some in the house. I wanted to see how long it would last. It's been in the fridge for about 4 months now and I used some 2 weeks ago in a stir fry, it looks and smells great.
I haven't stored garlic this way but I'd like to do the same thing with the garlic, for sauces and stews and chinese stir fry. I don't know if the wine is acidic enough for garlic. Anyone? TIA ~Bliss
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Old 02-03-2009, 09:51 PM   #35
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Interesting narrative by Dobozban which I've heard similarly from the anti-seat belt and anti-motocycle helmet people. The theories run fine until you are a witness to one of those "small" group that it never happens to. Then it takes on a different perspective.

Yes it is a safety feature. Yes the chance of a person having it happen to them is rare, but does that mean you play Russian Roulette with the odds and "hope" that you beat the odds? You can be the best defensive driver in the world but you can still be involved in an accident and be severely injured or killed. The same goes for food and especially canning.

You had food poisoning, probably often and most times don't realize it because the symptoms are common to other ailments, especially the Flu. Even hospitals and doctors don't know until something said clues them in that direction. That's one of the reasons why the statistics are low since they aren't always reported or reported correctly.

Having studied food preservation and home canning extensively, I think I will continue to follow the recommendations from the Food Scientists with PhD's on the subject and their published recommendations for "safety" and leave the riskier behavior for others.
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Old 02-03-2009, 10:26 PM   #36
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There's also the issue of one's responsibility for the persons for whom you cook. Do you care so little about your spouse or children that you would risk exposing them to botulism, even though the risk is small? Just how much risk do you tolerate?

I'll tell you this: if it were my child or grandchild, and they contracted a life-threatening illness because of someone's "can't happen to me" attitude, I'd beat that person to death with my bare fists.
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Old 02-04-2009, 01:01 AM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blissful View Post
I had some ginger start to mold on me, so the next time I bought it, I pulsed it in a processor and added a cup of wine (white dry) in a plastic container with a lid. I would have used sherry if I had had some in the house. I wanted to see how long it would last. It's been in the fridge for about 4 months now and I used some 2 weeks ago in a stir fry, it looks and smells great.
I haven't stored garlic this way but I'd like to do the same thing with the garlic, for sauces and stews and chinese stir fry. I don't know if the wine is acidic enough for garlic. Anyone? TIA ~Bliss
blissful - I store my peeled and sliced ginger in dry sherry. It lasts a VERY long time (a year or more if you happen to forget you put it behind something in the cabinet ) You don't even have to refrigerate it. And on top of that, you get to use that wonderful ginger-infused sherry in a stir fry or other dish!
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Old 02-04-2009, 09:54 AM   #38
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I just put my chunk of Ginger in the freezer and slice off what I need at any time. It seems to last forever that way.
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Old 02-04-2009, 10:01 AM   #39
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When I buy ginger I buy just enough that I will need for my recipe (OK maybe a little more). It is so inexpensive that i spend $.20 or so and have nothing to store after. If I used it more often though then I would use the sherry method.
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Old 02-04-2009, 10:45 AM   #40
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Botulism isn't about spending a day or two in the bathroom. It can very easily kill you or put you in a wheelchair or on dialysis for the rest of your life. If that risk doesn't bother you, then go ahead and store fresh herbs and veggies in oil.

I often buy large amounts of garlic and just separate the cloves and freeze them.

Better than letting it get old and sprouted.
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