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The right way to store onions

Whether they're whole, peeled, sliced, or cooked.



Erin Alexander
May 17, 2020 8:29PM (UTC)

This story first appeared on Food52, an online community that gives you everything you need for a happier kitchen and home – that means tested recipes, a shop full of beautiful products, a cooking hotline, and everything in between!

I use onions almost every day—be it for thrown-together pantry pastas, my go-to Brussels sprout salad (it's got the best crunch), or the base for some kind of saucy-stewy braise.

Naturally, I tend to buy a lot of onions at once, so storing them the right way (so they last as long as possible) is key. Because there's nothing worse than a mushy-moldy onion that's no longer usable.

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If you, too, hate wasting food, then you've come to the right place. Here's how to store onions every which way—whether you just picked them up from the store or already sliced and diced them.

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How to store onions

When storing whole, unpeeled bulb onions, there are a few things to keep in mind. First things first: Keep them in a spot that's cool, dark, and dry. Ventilation is also important—if you don't keep them in a spot where they can get lots of air circulation, you'll cut down their shelf life (that's why keeping them whole in zip-top bags or airtight containers isn't ideal).

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You can store them in containers with air holes, breathable mesh bags, or even pantyhose (yes, seriously). Here's how, according to our former editor, Lindsay-Jean Hard: "Take a pair of [clean] pantyhose, drop an onion down into the toe, and tie a knot above it." Repeat that process with your remaining onions and hang it in a cool, dark cabinet. "There's no better way to maximize airflow around your onions while simultaneously keeping them separated and moisture-free. Whenever you need​ an onion, simply snip one off."

While it's not recommended to store whole, unpeeled onions in the fridge (they'll absorb moisture and become mushy more quickly that way), you should absolutely store them in the fridge if they are peeled, cut in half, or sliced.

Store peeled, halved, and sliced onions in airtight glass containers (plastic may absorb their smell) in the fridge; peeled onions will last about two weeks this way, and sliced onions will last for a week to 10 days. Cooked onions should also be stored in the fridge (airtight containers again, for the win) for three to five days.

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How to freeze onions

Another handy trick for storing onions? Use your freezer!

You don't need to do much: Simply put raw, sliced onions into a freezer-safe zip-top bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, and pop it in the freezer; if you want to keep them from sticking, spread them out on a sheet-pan or shallow baking dish and freeze them for one to two hours before transferring to a container. They'll last in there for six months or more.

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While we wouldn't recommend using your defrosted raw onions in dishes where they'll go uncooked (like guac or salads), they'll make an A+ addition to stews, braises, and sauces. You'll also want to avoid using this bunch for caramelizing, too, as they can become a bit watery after a stint in the freezer.

You can, however, make caramelized onions from a freshly cut onion and freeze those; keep your frozen caramelized onions in ice cube trays, muffin tins, zip-top bags, or an airtight container. Basically, the world is your onion.


Erin Alexander

MORE FROM Erin Alexander


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