How to Store Onions


“Begin with sautéing the onion.” This is perhaps the most common starting point when preparing any savory dish.

Onions are the dynamic and indispensable alliums used in cooking across the world. Ranging from pungent when consumed raw to sweet and silky when caramelized, their juicy flesh is packed with flavor that varies according to the cooking method used.

Due to their long shelf life, it’s common practice to purchase onions in large quantities. Or you find a stellar deal at the farmers market and end up buying way more than you need.

final store onions in paper bag

So, what should you do with that onion glut in your pantry? Don’t worry, we have you covered.

From freezing them whole to caramelizing and everything in between, read on to learn some easy hacks to store onions.

Method 1. Store Raw Onions

Storing your onions raw is the easiest and most common method. Raw onions can last 2 to 3 months in your pantry in a paper or mesh bag, and even longer if you freeze them (generally up to 6 to 8 months).

#Paper Bag

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need to use paper bags to store onions

  • Onions
  • Paper bag
  • Hole punch

Step 1. Punch multiple holes in a paper bag

punch multiple holes in the paper bag

  • Fold the paper bag in half lengthwise.
  • Make multiple holes along one edge, each 1 inch apart.
  • Turn the bag and make similar holes along the other edge.

Step 2. Place the onions in the bag and seal it

place the onions in the bag

  • Fill the bag halfway with onions. Use multiple bags if you have more onions than will fit in one bag.
  • Fold down the open end and seal it with staples or paper clips.
  • Put the bag in a dry, cool and dark place that has proper ventilation.

final store onions in paper bag

#Mesh Bag

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need to use mesh bags to store onions

  • Onions
  • Mesh bag

Single-Step Method: Place the onions one by one in the mesh bag

place the onions in the mesh bag

  • Tighten the closed end of the mesh bag with a twist tie or by making a knot.
  • Push an onion inside and seal it again with a twist tie or knot. Continue the same method to add more onions until you use up all the space in the bag.
  • Hang the bag on a hook or nail in a cool, dry and dark place.

You can use a nylon sock in a similar manner, as nylon allows good air circulation.

final store onion in mesh bag

#Freeze or Refrigerate

Freezing raw onions is also a viable option if you need to store them for 6 to 8 months. The only drawback is that they lose their pungent crunch. But don’t be disappointed. Freezing still preserves the essential flavor of the onions, making them useful for adding to soups, stews or ground meats. You can either chop them first or freeze them whole.

You do not need to thaw frozen onions before using them. Put them directly into the pan and sauté them.

If you will be using the onions within 2 to 3 months, you can simply refrigerate them.

A. Chopped

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need to freeze chopped onions

  • Chopped onion
  • Zip lock bags

Single-Step Method: Put the chopped onions in zip lock bags & freeze them

freeze chopped onion in zip lock bag

  • Put the chopped onions in zip lock bags and seal them, removing any excess air.
  • Place the bags in your refrigerator or freezer, depending on how long you need to store them.
  • Make multiple batches for easy use.

B. Peeled

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need to freeze whole onions

  • Onions
  • Water
  • Plastic wrap
  • Paper towels

Step 1. Remove the skin and wash the onions

remove the skin of the onion

  • Peel off the outer dry layer of the onions.
  • Wash them with water and pat dry using a paper towel.

Step 2. Seal the onions in plastic wrap and freeze them

seal the onion in plastic wrap

  • Wrap each individual onion in plastic wrap and seal it from all ends.
  • Store them in the refrigerator or freezer, depending on how long you’ll be storing them.

Method 2: Preserve as Pickled Onions

If you ever have a surplus of any vegetable and are not a big fan of throwing food away, then pickling is your answer. Pickled onions are fun and easy to make. They serve as a tangy condiment that goes well with burgers, tacos, salads, wraps and sandwiches.

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need to store pickled onions

  • Red onion, peeled and sliced – 1
  • Warm water – 1 cup
  • Apple cider vinegar – ½ cup
  • Sugar – 1 tablespoon
  • Salt – 1 teaspoon

Step 1. Mix water, apple cider vinegar, salt and sugar

prepare a mix of apple cider vinegar sugar and salt

  • Pour 1 cup of warm water into a container.
  • Add ½ cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt.

Step 2. Place onions in a jar & fill it up with the solution

place sliced onions in the solution

  • Stir it until the sugar and salt dissolve completely in the solution.
  • Place the sliced onions in a jar and pour in the solution until all the slices are completely submerged.
  • Seal the jar airtight and refrigerate it overnight.
  • Pickled onions can last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

final pickled onion

Method 3: Caramelize and Freeze

The perfect combo of sweet and savory, caramelized onions can be sprinkled over your salads, pastas, sandwiches or party appetizers. However, preparing them is not child’s play.

You need to keep a constant watch on them while they’re cooking to be sure they don’t burn. But once brought down to a perfect golden brown color, they’ll impart an intense flavor.

Since onions take about 1 hour to caramelize, you can prepare them in big batches and freeze the unused portion.

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need to caramelise and store onions

  • Onions, chopped – 1½ cups
  • Olive oil – ¼ cup
  • Ice cube tray, muffin molds or zip lock bags

Step 1. Heat the oil and sauté the onions until they’re golden brown

saute onion until golden brown

  • Pour ¼ cup of olive oil into a pan and heat it on medium heat.
  • Once the oil is sufficiently hot, add 1½ cups of chopped onions to the pan and stir until they are evenly coated with oil.
  • Continue cooking and stir them every 5 minutes until they caramelize and turn golden brown.

Step 2. Put caramelized onions into ice cube tray, muffin molds or zip lock bags

put caramelized onion in ice tray muffin mold or zip lock bag

  • Remove the pan from the heat and let the onions cool down.
  • Scoop the caramelized onions into an ice cube tray, making sure each cube is filled evenly.
  • Alternatively, you can freeze them in zip lock bags or muffin molds. Each mold can hold about ½ cup of caramelized onions.

Step 3. Freeze the caramelized onions

place the caramalized onion in the freezer

  • Place the ice cube tray, muffin molds or zip lock bags in the freezer.
  • Once the onions are frozen solid, pop them out and use as needed.
  • Frozen caramelized onions can last up to 3 months.

final caramelized onion

Tips

  • If not freezing or refrigerating, always store your onions in a cool, dry and dark place. Moist surroundings can cause them to spoil quickly.
  • Do not store onions in plastic bags. Lack of air circulation will make them sprout and spoil fast.
  • Try to maintain a constant temperature because fluctuating temperatures will speed up rotting.
  • You can also puree the onions and freeze them in ice cube trays. Each cube is approximately 1 tablespoon.

Summary of How to Store Onions

how to store onions summary

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