Onions are a staple in many kitchens. They add flavor to soups, salads, and stews, and they can be used to make delicious homemade onion rings or French onion soup. If you’ve ever had to deal with an onion that’s gone bad before you were able to use it all, then you know how frustrating it can be.
But this doesn’t have to be your reality! With the right tools and techniques, you can keep your onions fresh and delicious for weeks.
In this article, we will explore the best ways to store onions so that you can keep your pantry stocked with these versatile veggies for months.
The Importance of Proper Onion Storage
Onions are a versatile ingredient that can add flavor to pretty much any dish. They are commonly sauces, but they can also be used to flavor meat dishes such as hamburgers and steaks.
Onions are from the genus Allium in the lily family (along with scallions, spring onions, sweet onions, leeks, green garlic, garlic scapes, chives) and have been used as both food and medicine for thousands of years. They are also a good source of antioxidants and have been shown to help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels and boost immunity.
If you’re not using your onions quickly enough and they start to go bad, it’s not going to be as easy to cut or chop them. Whole onions have a high water content and are prone to spoiling if left at room temperature for too long. This is why it’s important to keep them properly refrigerated at all times.
Factors That Affect Onion Storage
There are many factors that affect onion storage. The major ones are:
The temperature of your storage area will have an impact on how long your onions last. While they can be stored for up to three months, they are best stored at room temperature. Onions should be stored in a cool and dry place as onions absorb moisture.
In order to increase the shelf life of your onions, you should store them at room temperature which is about 70°F (21°C). If you live in an area where temperatures are lower than this, you can store them in your basement or garage but make sure that they are out of direct sunlight and away from any heat source such as furnace vents or windows facing south.
Onions are affected by light. When they are exposed, they turn green and become bitter tasting. This happens because of enzymes in the onion that are activated by light rays. The best way to avoid this from happening is by keeping them in a cool, dry, and dark or at least away from windows as much as possible.
Onions need to be kept in a dry and well-ventilated place. If the storage area is too humid, then it can lead to the decay of onions. The ideal humidity level for preserving onions is 10-15%.
This is very important when storing onions because they need to breathe so they can stay fresh longer. It helps prevent mold growth on their skins and ensures that their roots remain firm even after being harvested from the ground.
Best Way to Store Onions
You may ask how long onions can last. These edible bulbs can last up to eight months without spoiling! In fact, the longer you store onions, the sweeter they become. The best way to store onions is by different tested methods.
Keeping whole onions in a cool, dry, dark place such as a pantry or basement
Place your green onions in an open basket or another container such as plastic bag, grocery bag, or mesh bag that allows air flow through them (well ventilated spot), but keeps them off the ground. It’s important to ensure proper ventilation to prevent molding and rotting. The pantry should be cool (50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit) and dry.
Placing onions in the refrigerator
Some people choose to store chopped onions in the fridge for more moisture, especially if they live in a hot, humid climate. Note that in the refrigerator, peeled onions will last 10 to 14 days and chopped onions will last for seven to 10 days.
To do this, use a plastic bag with an absorbent material such as damp paper towel or shredded newspaper inside. The absorbent material will help keep the moisture from evaporating from sliced onions stored in this way. For a long-term storage solution, wrap each onion individually in aluminum foil and place them into a sealed container or self-sealing plastic bags. You can also slice off the onion roots and place the rootless onion back into its original bag or another self-sealing one for long-term storage. Just be sure to label your bags so that you know what is inside each one.
While you can store cut onions in the fridge, experts note that this can cause the chopped onions to convert starch to sugar, and can result in soft or soggy onions.
Freezing whole onions is also a great way to preserve them, as it prevents the loss of water and nutrients. It also keeps them from sprouting, which can happen when you leave them in the refrigerator for too long. The best way to freeze onions is to slice them on a mandolin or with a sharp knife. You can then place the new slices and leftover onion in a freezer bag, plastic wrap or airtight container and seal them tightly with as much air pressed out as possible and use them within 6 months.
You can also add some oil to help prevent them from sticking together. Cooked onions can also be frozen for up to 12 months. Frozen onions are best used for cooked dishes!
Other Tips for Extending the Shelf Life of Onions
To extend the shelf life of your green onions even further, try one of these secret tips:
- Don’t cut onions until you are ready to use them: When you cut onion, it releases gases that can cause them to spoil more quickly. If you need to chop onions in advance, wrap them tightly in a plastic zip-top bag or foil and store them in the refrigerator.
- Use older onions first: Onions that have been stored for a longer period of time are more likely to spoil, so it’s a good idea to use them up first. They also have more pungency and flavor than younger ones.
- Discard any damaged onions with signs of spoilage: If you notice soggy onions or those with soft spots, moldy, or have started to sprout, it’s best to throw them out to prevent the spoilage from spreading to other onions.
- Onions should not be stored in the fridge with apples or potatoes because they give off ethylene gas which can cause these other vegetables to rot more quickly than usual.
- Add a whole garlic clove to the onion bag to keep it fresh longer: The garlic will absorb the odors from the onions and keep them from spoiling as quickly.
- When buying a few onions, avoid onions that are soft or soggy, and choose those that are firm: Make sure they don’t have any green shoots sticking out of the ends and that there aren’t any holes in them, as they are likely to be bitter.
- Another popular trick for proper storage according to the National Onion Association is using a clean pair of stockings or pantyhose legs. Place one onion into the foot of the first leg and tie the hose in a knot to keep it in place.
- Onions can also be dried in order to extend their shelf life: Use a food dehydrator to dry out your onions if you have one available. You can set it at 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 degrees Celsius) for six hours or until the excess moisture has been eliminated.
Like any vegetable, onions do not last forever. In fact, they tend to lose their flavor after just a few weeks. If you want your onions to last longer than three or four weeks, then it’s important that you know how to store them properly.
Proper onion storage will not only keep your onions last and fresh longer, but it will also help you to save money on your grocery bills. You can store your onions in many ways, but the best ways are storing them in a cool, dry place such as the pantry or basement, in the fridge to slow down spoilage, and freezing while in a zip-top bag or airtight container.
In the end, storing onions doesn’t have to be all that complicated. With a few key techniques, and some secret tips mentioned above, you should be able to prepare your onion crop for long-term storage easily and without worry.