Sunday, August 11, 2013

Preserving: Curing and Storing Onions

Each year I plant onions from sets. They are reasonably priced at about $3.95 for a net bag of 80 bulbs. This year I only planted yellow onions.  Because onion sets are usually available only in the spring, I purchase an extra bag to store in my refrigerator for mid-summer replanting for a second crop of green onions.

I plant the sets about one inch apart. When they're six inches high, I start thinning and use the sprouts in salads. The remaining onions then have enough room to mature into bulbs.

Because my garden is small, it is difficult for me to implement crop rotation which helps reduce the effects of pests like onion maggots. That means I have to watch carefully and pull my onions by mid-July to prevent excessive damage.

Onions are ready to harvest once their tops fall over. Some onions will form flower stalks. I cut them out as soon as they appear. If the flower stalks are allowed to progress, the onions will be poor keepers.

To cure the onions, I first let them dry in the sun. Then I wipe any excess dirt off the bulbs using a dry paper towel. Lastly, I tie the bulbs into small bunches by their tops.

Small onions and those that lost their tops to into the net bags I saved from the sets. The bags then get hung for the drying process.

I hang the onions outdoors under the eves in a shaded, dry, warm location until the outer skins are dry. Once the skins and tops are dry, the onion odour is diminished. At that point, I move the bunches indoors for safe keeping and use during the fall and winter months.

When I need an onion, I just cut one from the bunch. Pretty handy. Plus, they make an interesting "decorative" item in the cabin.

I lose a few smaller ones to dehydration, so I use those first. The larger ones will last me through the following March depending on my cooking plans.

Do you grow onions? Do you have any tips to share? -- Margy


  1. I've never tried to grow onions, but my mother and grandmother always had them tied just like yours.

    Glad I found your blog. I'll look forward to reading your archives.

  2. I keep saying I'm going to attempt to grow some veggies. I used so many onions this would be a good one. I think I'll give it a go so thanks for this post. :-)

  3. You are so amazing! Not only do you know and DO all this, but you describe it so well. No onions on my patio (it's all container planting), but I did get a mint & basil plant just join the rosemary and lavender (I enjoy running my hands along the herbs to get a bit of the scent.)

  4. Anonymous1:41 PM

    Those are great tips for growing and drying onions Margy. I have grown them in previous years but not this year.

  5. When we lived in the S. California desert the farmers grew acres and acres of onions. They would dump loads of them in empty fields - I guess they had more than they could sell. My friends and I would gather baskets of them. One friend wore panty hose (remember those?) and she would launder the old ones all year - we would put the onions in the legs of the panty hose, one onion at a time, tie a knot above the onion and keep adding and making knots until the legs were full - then hang in a dry spot(in the garage). Snip at a knot and you have one onion.

    One tip - don't drive your car into the edge of the pile of onions - you will get stuck like it was ice - and it is very painful to have to be the ones pushing the car out of the onions - just in case you were interested.

  6. I used to braid my onions in a long strip, then knot the braid at the top for hanging on a nail. They hung in the back porch; onions on the right, curing goat milk cheeses on the left.

    Now, I buy them at Save-On-Foods in a mesh bag and forget to use them. No flavour to speak of. Ah, "civilization"!


We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy