Onions are an excellent way to add flavor to almost any dish and are an everyday staple in many homes. Unfortunately, these flavorful vegetables can go from ripe and delicious to spoiled and nasty in no time if they are stored incorrectly. We’ll show you how to store onions properly, whether they are sweet, dry bulb, green, or cut onions.
Without onions, many dishes would be lifeless. What is French onion soup or onion rings without the onion? Onions provide a depth of flavor to a meal that cannot be matched by any other additive.
This aromatic vegetable is related to shallots, garlic, chives, and the leek family and provides flavor to your table from summer through fall, depending on the variety.
Best Ways to Store Onions
You need to take specific measures when harvesting onions from the garden or making bulk onion purchases from the grocery store to ensure that they have a long shelf life. Cured onions have a papery skin that protects them from moisture and allows them to last longer while peeled, and cut onions no longer have that protection. Onions require different storage methods depending on the state of the onion.
Choosing and Preparing Onions for Storage
Before you store your onions in the cellar, refrigerator, or freezer, be sure that you have selected good onions that will last the longest. There are also specific steps that you can take while preparing those onions to make life a little easier.
Choose onions that are firm and dry. Make sure that the necks of the onion are tight and dry and that their outer layer skins are thin and shiny. Avoid any onions that have soft spots, blemishes, or that have begun sprouting.
Cure freshly harvested onions before you store them by spreading them out in one layer during a warm, dry, and breezy day. During the curing process, the paper skins tighten around the bulb, and the necks will wither.
If you plan on cutting or slicing onions for freezing, there are a few things you can do to make your job a little more pleasant. To avoid burning and tearing eyes, store the onions in the fridge for one hour before slicing.
You can also slice them under running water to alleviate the eye burning sensation. To get rid of the onion odor from your hands, rub lemon juice or vinegar onto your fingers and rinse with water.
How to Store Sweet Onions
Sweet onions are produced in the early summer and have high water content. If you have different onion varieties, we recommend using up the sweet onions first. You can, however, take specific steps to store them for longer shelf life.
Sweet Onion Storage
Wrap each whole sweet onion individually in a paper towel and store them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Doing this helps them stay moisture-free and last up to three weeks. Place sliced sweet onions into an airtight container in the fridge for up to ten days.
Storing Onions in the Root Cellar
Harvest pungent onions from the end of summer to the beginning of autumn. Freshly harvested onions are best stored before they start sprouting. Keep them in the root cellar or other cool and dry area of your home.
Before storing onions, make sure that they have not begun to spoil by checking for soft spots and mold. Avoid storing potatoes and onions together. Both of these veggies release gases and moisture, which causes them both to spoil faster than they should.
If you are storing freshly harvested onions, make sure that you cure them beforehand. We agree that the best way to store onions is to hang them in a dry place. Grab a clean pair of pantyhose and cut off each leg. Drop an onion in and tie a knot.
Drop another onion in and repeat until the stocking leg is full. Repeat with the second nylon leg. Hang the onions in a cool, dry place that is ideally between 40° and 45°F. Use a mesh bag with the same technique for storage.
Pantry Storage for Onions
Not everyone has a root cellar. Not to worry, you can save your onions in the pantry or any dark place that has proper air circulation. This is also a good way to store red onions.
Use the hole punch to make holes in the paper bag. Fold the bag in half so that each hole you punch will create two holes. Make as many holes as possible without losing the integrity of the bag. Four rows of holes on each side should be sufficient.
Place onions that do not have any soft spots or blemishes into the bag and fold over the top. Use a paper clip to secure it closed and label the onion type on the bag.
Put the paper bag of onions in the pantry or kitchen drawer, making sure you do not crowd them. Lack of air circulation causes the onions to spoil faster.
Onions Stored in the Refrigerator
While you should not store whole onions in this manner, peeled and cut onions need to be refrigerated. Peeled whole onions last in the fridge for two weeks while sliced and diced onions last seven to ten days.
For large pieces of onion or whole peeled onions, wrap them in plastic wrap and put them into the crisper drawer of the fridge. Place smaller onion pieces into a plastic bag or storage container.
Storing Green Onions
Green onions have a milder taste than bulb onions and need to be stored differently. Here is how to store green onions or scallions for optimal freshness.
Pour an inch or two of water into a glass jar and place the green onions in with the roots facing downward into the water. Put the glass jar in a windowsill or the refrigerator.
The onions placed in the window will continue to grow and need to have the water changed every couple of days. Cover the refrigerated green onions with plastic.
Freezing Onions for Storage
If you know that you won’t be using your onions before they expire or they are nearing their expiration date, freeze them to prolong their shelf life.
Freeze Onions Quickly
Peel the onions and slice them into half-inch pieces. Place the sliced onions into freezer bags and use a permanent marker to write the contents and date on the bags. Place onions in the freezer and use them in soups or stews within one year.
Cooking Onions to Extend Storage
The flavor of onion changes dramatically, depending on how you prepare it. Pungent onions have a bold and strong character that is sometimes overpowering, while a sauteed or caramelized onion has a mild sweet flavor.
If you have onions that are nearing their expiration date, cook and freeze them for future meals.
Slice the onions into your desired thickness level. Coat the inside of a medium skillet with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat on the stove. Add the onions to the pan and drizzle more olive oil over the top.
Reduce the heat to medium and stir the onions occasionally. Cook for ten minutes and then sprinkle some salt and sugar over the cooked onions. Cook for a total of 30 to 60 minutes while stirring every few minutes.
Once the onions are a rich brown color, remove from the heat and allow the onions to cool before putting them in a freezer bag. The caramelized onions will keep in the freezer for several months.
What Can You Do with Frozen Onions?
There are many ways to utilize those frozen onions. Add them by the handful to canned soups, toss them into spaghetti sauce or chili for extra flavor, or make homemade French onion soup.
Add the caramelized onions, sherry, and thyme to a large pot over high heat and cook until reduced. Lower the heat and add the beef broth and bay leaf and simmer for ten minutes. Add molasses, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste and remove from the heat.
Pour the soup into oven-proof crocks, and top them off with shredded cheese. Pace the pots under the oven broiler until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.
Not using the proper storage for onions can lead to spoilage and, if eaten, may even make you sick. Onion storage is quite simple if you do it the right way, whether they are whole and unpeeled, peeled and sliced, or caramelized to perfection. Enjoy garden onions year-round by storing them in the root cellar, fridge, or freezer.
Knowing how to store onions properly ensures that your favorite dishes are aromatic and flavorful, so why not share these onion storage tips with your family and friends on Pinterest and Facebook?