Onions are among the most common ingredients used in cooking. They are used in numerous cuisines and are part of many recipes.
Recipes use onions in many forms, from whole onions, chopped onions, and cut onions.
They are a staple part of your kitchen to ensure your cooking tastes great.
It is because of how popular onions are that people buy them in bulk.
Unfortunately, the issue that arises with buying large amounts of onions at one time is how long onions last.
The shelf life of onions is very important when it comes to storing onions.
You can extend the shelf life of onions depending on where you store them and in what form the onions are in, i.e., whole onions or chopped onions.
So let’s get into the different ways you can store onions and how to extend their shelf life.
How to Store Onions So They Last Longer
What Are The Different Types Of Onions?
Before we can get into the different ways of storing onions and how to obtain the maximum shelf life for your onions, we need to go through the types of onions most commonly used in our kitchens.
This is because these onions last for different time periods and also need to be stored differently.
Shallots are smaller and longer versions of onions.
Their taste is similar to an onion and garlic.
Compared to your standard onions, shallots have a peel that is much thinner, and they also have a lower water content compared to traditional onions.
The appearance of these peeled onions does not have the same appearance as the common onions.
Instead of having multiple rings, a shallot has bulbs or cloves similar to garlic.
There are different ways you can store shallots, the way you do this is dependent on how long you wish to keep your shallots.
You can freeze them, dehydrate them, store them in an airtight container or use a mesh bag.
If you wish to use the shallots in your everyday cooking and you think you will use them all in a short period of time, then you can easily store onions in a mason jar.
You can freeze onions that you do not plan on using soon.
This can easily allow you to keep the onions from spoiling for up to three months.
One drawback of frozen onions is the change in texture. They become much softer compared to fresh onions.
It is best to keep these onions for cooked dishes to maximize their use.
Another way that one can store shallots is through curing.
Take the bulb onions and cure them in a warm, dry area for up to two weeks. Then place these onions in a low humidity area that is dry.
This can keep your onions from going bad for at least six months.
You may also store whole onions by dehydrating them, and this allows you to keep them fresh for a long time, even years.
As far as food storage is concerned, dehydrating food can be a great way to keep food items fresh.
2) Leeks and Spring Onions
Another commonly used type of onion.
They have a sweeter, milder taste compared to standard raw onions. Leeks look very similar to spring onions. However, they do not have a bulb.
Leeks are most commonly found in soups like leek and potato soup.
Spring onions are otherwise called scallions in some places.
They are usually eaten raw as garnishes in Asian cuisine, such as ramen and fried rice. They are also milder in flavor compared to standard onions.
The way these whole raw onions are stored depends on when you plan on using them.
If you are going to use them within a few days of purchasing them, then you can simply place them in a jar with water.
Ensure the jar is stored in a cool area so that the onions do not wilt.
If you want to preserve your onions for later use, then you need to use the proper storage technique.
Your onions can last up to five days by covering them in a damp paper towel.
Ensure that you tie the stems of onions and then place the onions in the fridge.
Another way to store onions is in sliced or chopped form.
Place the onions in a freezer bag (preferably a resealable one) or an airtight container.
Then place the airtight container or bag into the freezer. This allows you to store these onions from up to six weeks to a few months.
3) Regular Onions
These onions are the most readily available onion.
They are usually yellow onions or white onions. Another common form of onions is red onions.
The national onion association provides you with information on how onions should be stored properly.
The association recommends that the onions should be stored in a cool (below room temperature), dark place; the area should be dry and have proper ventilation.
The reason for this is because of how easily onions absorb moisture. When they absorb moisture, they will begin to rot much faster.
It is best to avoid storing onions in plastic bags or plastic wrap.
A plastic bag does not have adequate air circulation and can lead to the onions going off much faster.
How Long Do Onions Last After Buying?
When you buy onions, they usually last up to a week when kept at room temperature.
They are best kept in the dark; if you do not have a dark area, then you place the onions in a brown bag. Ensure that there are small holes for proper airflow; you can also place onions in a loosely covered paper for airflow.
Do not place the onions in a plastic bag, as this will reduce how long the onions will last.
You can also place the onions in the fridge, but this is only possible if you have proper fridge space.
Usually, this is not possible as your fridge contains other fresh vegetables.
What Are Ways To Store Onions Long-Term?
If you are buying onions in bulk, you don’t want to waste the money you spent because the onions have gone off.
For this reason, it is best to try to extend the life of your onions.
1) Whole Raw Onions
For unpeeled onions, the best form of storage is in an area that is away from sunlight and has adequate airflow.
Unpeeled onions bought from stores have very thin skin and readily trap moisture, causing them to rot.
For peeled onions, the best place to store raw onion is in the fridge or freezer. Uncut onions can be kept in the fridge without the need for containers.
If you freeze raw onions, ensure the usage of airtight containers to reduce the amount of moisture that enters the onion.
2) Chopped Raw Onions
Cut onions and sliced onions can survive longer than uncut onions.
Freezing onions is another way you can store cut onions or sliced onions.
These cut onions can last months in the freezer if covered properly in a sealed container; aluminum foil can work in an emergency.
Cut onions can also be stored in the form of pickled onions. Like other vegetables, pickling is a great way to maintain the life of an onion.
Pickling changes the flavor and texture of an onion.
You may have to rethink the way in which you use an onion that has been pickled, but it still allows you to maintain the life of an onion.
Pickling prevents bacteria from growing on an onion.
This prevents the formation of contaminated onions.
To pickle an onion, simply remove the skin and store it in a jar with a mixture of vinegar or lemon juice with spices, salt, and sugar.
The mixture can be made according to your own taste and preference.
3) Cooked Onions
Cooked onions have a different way of being stored than an onion that is uncooked.
Cooked onions can not be kept in the same manner as raw onions. Cooked onions need to be kept in the fridge rather than outside.
The best way to keep an onion that has already been cooked through is to place it in a container and store it in a refrigerator.
Alternatively, you can place these onions in the freezer.
They should be kept packed and stored in a container that is airtight, and this will keep the onions ready for use at any time.
How To Tell If Onions Have Gone Bad?
If you want to ensure that you do not buy bad onions, you need to be on the lookout for certain signs that the onion is good enough to eat.
You do not want to be eating contaminated onions.
For this reason, you should know what to look for when purchasing an onion.
There are three different ways that you can judge if your onion is one that can be eaten.
One way that you can judge if an onion is gone bad is through the smell. Onions have a characteristic smell that is 100% attributable to an onion.
While the smell of onion is not on anyone’s favorite list of smells, you can most definitely tell the difference between an onion that has spoiled and one that can be eaten.
The onion will produce an off smell that can be linked to rotting.
The appearance of onion is also a great indicator of whether or not you should avoid onions stored in your home.
If you have an onion at home that has begun to show black or brown spots, throw it away, it has spoiled.
Another indicator is the presence of sprouts on the onion.
This onion has started to go off and should be avoided.
Finally, the feel of the onion will give you a definitive idea of whether or not you should keep or throw away the onion.
Onions are usually hard to touch; if they begin to feel mushy or spot in any place, then your onion has gone off and should not be eaten.
There are many types of onions that are found in an everyday kitchen.
The most common of which is the white or yellow onion.
These onions can be stored in various ways to extend how long they last. From being kept in the darkroom to being refrigerated or frozen.
There is an option available for all forms of onions, be they whole, chopped, or cooked.