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How I store onions

 
gardener
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I have found a way to store onions that works far better than my pitiful attempts of braiding, and still allows me to keep them hanging so I can see them. Thought I would share in case anyone else has the same issues....

Here is what it looks like when I attempt to braid onions. I am impatient, start when they arent dry enough, and they look.... sad.



So instead, I hang them from a cord. They are loose on the cord, so fall down and stay compact as they dry, are easy to remove, take less skill and are easy to hang.

I let my onions sit in a hot sunny place and wilt for a day or two... these were spread out to lie in a single layer.... but I didnt take a picture.


First, I start with a doubled piece of twine, and make a double figure 8 knot on the loose ends to form a sturdy loop. A figure 8 knot is stronger and less likely to break than an overhand knot. Onions are heavy, it's worth the extra 5s of effort.



Then, I hang the little loop on a hook outside. The first onion Is twisted around the centre of the hanging piece of looped twine. The second and third onions are also twisted around the single strand twine.


Those starter onions support the rest and keep them from falling off. The rest of the onions are simply twisted around the doubled string. No need to knot them, their own weight keeps them up. I try to hang the stem on one end, the onion on the other.


After I am done, it looks like this:


I trim the onion stems, to leave a few inches hanging and leave them in a cool dark place to continue drying.


After a few weeks, the onions will be quite dry, and the onions will slowly, with gravity, fall down the string and become more compact.

Ta da!



Not perfect or pretty, but a very space efficient way to dry and store onions and quickly get them off of my porch, and it is much faster for me than my pitiful braiding attempts, and less likely to rot than storing them in a box in a jumble.
 
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I tried braiding but always ended up with a moldy mess.

Then one year I was in a hurry, and strung up a cheap camping hammock in the cold room. After a few days of drying in a shed, into the hammock they went. I ran a small, efficient fan on them for a week, mixing regularly, so they would dry down properly. Worked like a charm. Used it for years.
 
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My system probably isn't very easy to copy but I pull my onions once they've flopped over (some never do and I eat them first since they don't seem to store as well).  Then I lay them out in the attic of my barn which has a sheet metal roof.  It gets fairly warm up there, even in the fall.  Good air circulation and the squirrels don't bother them.  After a month of drying up there, the tops are cut off and they go in the basement in wire baskets for the winter.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Mike, that's a brilliant system. Using an existing drying space is the way to go. Nicely done!

I always ended up harvesting just before a dangerous frost, so I took the tops off right away. More stuff to go moldy otherwise. I wonder, though, are onions sweeter if you dry them with the tops on?
 
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I've never had any success storing onions.  I've tried hanging them.  I've tried stuffing them in the legs of old pantyhose and hanging them.  I've tried storing them in shredded paper from the office, carefully packed in plastic milk crates.  They always get stinky.

So now we just peel them, chop them into quarters, and dice them in the food processor.  We store the chopped onions in ziplock bags, quart-size, and stack them neatly in the freezer.  I did a big batch of them about 2 weeks ago and ended up with about 15 bags.  For a large batch of chili, I'll use a whole bag.  For other stuff, I'll just break off a chunk of the frozen block and use them accordingly.
 
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I pick mine when half the tops have fallen over and then they go straight into the barn, it's very rarely dry here at onion picking time. They are laid out on the floor of the barn and stay there for up to a month. then I do a similar string method to the OP and hang them in the cellar, however I also end up with a lot with to short tops and they get put into sacks and put in the cellar.
 
Mike Haasl
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:I wonder, though, are onions sweeter if you dry them with the tops on?

I suspect they might be.  As a biennial they are trying to save up sugar for the winter.  So as the tops dry down they are probably putting some goodness into the bulb.  I imagine...

If they're cut off when green, maybe the wet cut allows moisture to escape the bulb and it actually harms the storage capabilities?  I'm just guessing...

Marco, how were you keeping them when they went stinky?  I store mine in a root cellar at 35-40 degrees.  Normally you wouldn't want them in a humid root cellar but mine isn't as humid as it's supposed to be so they do fine till April.
 
Catie George
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I should probably note that I store my onions in a cool late 1800s era basement within a few meters of a dehumidifier. Quite jealous of all of you with outbuildings to dry them down in!

My dad grew up without refridgeration and talks about hanging out in the uninsulated attic in the fall, where my grandmother strung up braided onions, garlic, peppers and herbs from the rafters.

Skandi- your cellar reminds me of my dad's cousin's in Eastern Europe. Their cellar, packed with onions, garlic, tomato sauce and jams is my inspiration for a lot of my canning and storing endeavours. Your onions look gorgeous.
 
Marco Banks
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Mike Haasl wrote:

Douglas Alpenstock wrote:

Marco, how were you keeping them when they went stinky?  I store mine in a root cellar at 35-40 degrees.  Normally you wouldn't want them in a humid root cellar but mine isn't as humid as it's supposed to be so they do fine till April.



Unfortunately, in LA it's rarely below 65 degrees until December or so.  Our nights are regularly in the low 70's this time of year.  I tried keeping them in my garage -- the coolest place I had.  

We don't have basements or root cellars here due to earthquakes . . . I suppose I could did one, but it wouldn't be that cool anyhow, and that's an awful lot of work for some onions.  So I freeze them -- we've usually got all the space I need in the freezer since it's just my wife and I at home now.

 
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