How To Store Onions: The Best Way & FAQ

Don’t let onions (and your money) go to waste. These 4 EASY steps are the best way to store onion for longer storage life. But don’t store onions next to one food item, or else they will spoil faster!

Now let’s learn how to store onions – the right way!

What You’ll Need

  • Storage bag or container 
  • Ventilated space
  • Homegrown/store-bought onions
  • A freezer and freezer bags (optional for freezing)
How long will onions stay fresh

How To Store Onions In 4 Easy Steps

Got everything that you need for this tutorial? Great. Here is the best way to store onions in four easy steps.

1. Dry Fresh Bulb Onions For Storage

If you are harvesting onions from your garden, you will need to dry them before storing. If you are storing store-bought onions, you may skip this step.

But why should you cure onions before storing them? You want to avoid or decrease the chances of mold and neck rot (1).

Onions are susceptible to a number of physiological disorders during storage such as, watery scales, translucent scales and freezing injury. These physiological disorders often become entry points for fungal and bacterial rots.

Proper curing and immediate storage can mitigate storage diseases in homegrown onions. It takes 2-3 weeks to dry out, or “cure” onions. And, they need direct sunlight for the whole duration.

You can put them on a sheet pan and let them “cure” at your front yard porch or near the windowsill. Once the skin is papery and crisp, you can begin to store them. After 2-3 weeks of drying, cut the tops off and head over to the next step.

You can view the video below to learn when onions are ready to be harvested and dried.

Note: Growing your own onions can be fun. You can even grow them in water. Check out this article on how to create a DIY aquaponic system and this article on the benefits of backyard aquaponics, if you want to give it a try!

2. Choose The Ideal Environment For Your Onions

Where not to store onions: Pantries, cupboards, airtight containers

Onions need ventilation. The ideal space for them would be on the counter – not behind the closed door of a pantry. Choose an open space or a place where you usually open a screened window (or use a fan). National Onion Association suggests not to put onions in an area where there is direct sunlight too (2).

3. Place Whole Onions In Containers And Be Mindful Of Neighbors

Tips on how to store onions, showing the different options.

After buying or harvesting your onions and deciding where to store them, place them in the container. When deciding what to put onions in, look for containers with holes. If the containers have lids, be sure the lids also have holes.

There are a lot of options when it comes to onion storage. You can use pantyhose and mesh bags. You can buy onion storage containers, which are essentially just mesh bags in bin form.

Never store onions in a plastic bag or airtight containers. Onions need good air circulation to stay fresh. Otherwise, they may rot quickly and be more susceptible to sprouting.

Pantyhose and mesh bags are ideal because they can hold onions without hassle while providing enough ventilation. If you have an old pair of pantyhose, cut the legs and tie each whole onion apart.

Other ideas include using paper bags or shoe boxes with holes in them. You can even try replacing the fruit in your fruit basket with onions!

Then, be mindful of what you store next to the onions.

Onions vs potatoes

You should never store potatoes and onions next to each other. Onions absorb moisture quickly but need to stay dry. Potatoes give off moisture and gas which is not healthy for the onions. What if you have a small kitchen or pantry?

It seems that it’s fine to have them on opposite sides of the room. As long as they’re not in close proximity, you should be fine.

Can you store garlic and onions together? The answer is yes.

They both require ample ventilation, so they are good partners in crime if you’re short on space. But never put them in the refrigerator. Keep them in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight.

4. Freeze Onions For Storage And Longer Shelf Life

One way to store onions is to freeze them. Freeze – NOT chill. Onions prefer to be stored in a cool place, but it doesn’t mean they love to be in the refrigerator. Remember, air circulation is very limited in the refrigerator!

If you decide to freeze your onions, you will need to do a little preparation. It’s worth it – we promise!

Grab the onions, peel, and chop them. To save time and hassle, slice them into pieces that you need for your next cooking session. Then, place them inside a freezer bag.

Make sure all the air has escaped from the bag before placing it in the freezer. Frozen onions will last 4-6 months.

This method lets you do all the prep work upfront so you can save time later when cooking!

Keep The Air Flowing For Longer Storage Life

Storing onions is pretty easy if you give them what they want – air. This will let you store onions without them going bad.

Make sure you choose a container with plenty of holes and a proper location with good ventilation. Consider getting a container just for onions.

Peeling and cutting onions can make your life easier down the road at dinner time. Freezing them takes some prep work, but is convenient and makes onions last longer!

What did you think about this tutorial? Share on social media with your thoughts and your favorite type of onion. If this tutorial was helpful, let a friend know!

FAQs

You can store onions for as long as 1-2 months – if you keep them in a ventilated place. They will last longer in the winter months when it’s less humid. After cutting them, they last up to 7 days in the fridge. And, they can last 4-6 months in the freezer. Follow our how-to-store onions tutorial for longer shelf life.

No, you should not store onions in the refrigerator. Refrigerators have no airflow and cause the onions to go bad quickly. Now, this isn’t true for green onions (also called scallions). To keep them fresh, wrap them with a paper towel before putting them in the fridge. But for the rest of the onion family, there is a way to store them in the fridge.

To store cut onions or cooked onions, the best way would be to peel and slice them, place them in an airtight container in the fridge, and use them within 5-7 days. You can also store cut onions in water to reduce their potent flavor and odor.

You should never wash onions before storing them because water and moisture encourage rotting. Should you ever want to remove excess dirt from an onion, you can just use a (dry) brush. If you detect mushy or soft spots, don’t store them. Discard or cook them immediately.

Yes, you can store onions on the counter – provided that you keep them in an open container and if the area is at room temperature, well-ventilated, and away from direct sunlight or any heat source. If the pantry counter space is limited, you can put onions in pantyhose or tights and hang them on the wall.

  1. Onions – Post-Harvest Handling and Storage. Retrieved from: https://www.agr.gc.ca/resources/prod/doc/pfra-arap/csidc-crdi/pdf/onions-oignons_eng.pdf
  2. Storage And Handling. Retrieved from: https://www.onions-usa.org/all-about-onions/storage-and-handling/
Onions

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