February 16, 2009

Cold Storage of Onions

Posted in food storage tagged , at 5:43 pm by yjohn

First let me say that I love onions. Whether I’m making a rich bean stew or homemade ketchup, onions are the single indispensable ingredient that is required across the board. So it should be no surprise that I grow quite a few onions every year and store them for my culinary use.

It’s just about time for me to start the seeds indoors for my next batch of onions, which I’ll be planting out in April. In considering this, I thought some tips regarding proper cold storage of onions might be in order.

Don’t harvest onions prematurely. Onions are ready when the leaves have turned yellow and fallen over, but not before.

Choose a nice sunny day to harvest, and pull up the onions in the morning. Lay them out on a flat dry board in the sun for the day. Choose a light-colored board, incidentally. I use one that I painted white. If you use a dark-colored board, it will absorb too much heat and cook your onions!

Once the onions have cured in the sun, cut off the tops and store in a mesh bag (for good air circulation) in an area with minimal light, temperatures below 60 degrees and low humidity.

One thing you want to avoid is storing onions in a place where they might be exposed to freezing temperatures.

What not to do when storing onions

What not to do when storing onions

As you can see from the picture, the bag of onions on the left has sprouted whereas the bag of onions on the right is intact. What is the difference? The bag on the left was exposed to below-freezing temperatures in the garage for about a week whereas the bag on the right was not.

These “bags” incidentally are made from the legs of my wife’s old (but thoroughly cleaned) pantyhose. They give the onions excellent support without any spots of high pressure (that could cause them to go bad) while allowing plentiful air circulation. I can’t speak as to whether pantyhose makes sense as an article of clothing — I’d rather leave that determination to the people who actually use the product. But as bags for storing onions, they are peerless and inexpensive.