Onions are probably the one vegetable that tastes just as fresh after it has been in storage as it does when harvested. An indispensable ingredient in cuisines from around the world, the onion is one of the oldest vegetables known to man.
Basic tips for storing onions:
- Do not wash the onions before storing them
- Sort them into sizes and store in mesh bags in a cellar
- Do not store immature, soft or big neck onions, eat those up first. Storage is for fully mature and properly cured bulbs only
- Onions should be stored in a cool dark place that is dry as well, too much humidity and the onions will start to turn bad
- If you don’t have a cellar, no problem, simply follow the basic concept of storing onions as outlined above and you should do just fine.
Some of the methods for storing onions include:
Braiding: you can use this rather old fashioned method to braid onions together. This effective and also attractive method of storing onions should be done immediately after the onions have been harvested because the tops will still be flexible. The braid should be reinforced at the top and hung in a warm, shady spot to allow the onions to cure. Once curing is complete, the braids can be moved to a cool, dry place that is essentially dark. Make several braids so that you can use one braid at a time.
Freezing: it may surprise you to note that onions can be frozen if you ever need to; though storing them for fresh use is a lot better. If you have a lot of onions that are going soft or sprouting, peel, chop and puree them, then pour the puree into ice trays and cover with thick plastic to prevent the whole freezer smelling of onions. Transfer frozen cubes to a plastic bag and store in the freezer. Very handy for making gravies and canned soups.
You can also freeze whole onions by peeling, washing and blanching them in boiling hot water (3-7 minutes depending on size). Cool them and drain off thoroughly, put them on cookie sheets and place in the freezer. After they are frozen you can put them in a plastic bag for storage. It is advisable to consume frozen onions within a month or two at the most. Onions wrapped in paper towels or foil can be stored in the refrigerator for as long as 6 months without freezing.
Drying: onions really are a hassle free vegetable and can be dried very easily. You have to peel and slice them before putting them into the dehydrator. Keep checking the dryness once you are down to the last hour on your timer, you don’t want them to turn brown. Alternatively, you can put them on a cookie sheet in a lukewarm oven for several hours.
To summarize the storage basics of onions include: storing only fully mature, properly cured onions; storage in a cool and dry place with good ventilation is important; check regularly for soft spots and sprouting and remove those onions immediately.