Get 4 to 6 Months Storage Time in the Pantry.
This week’s bulk buy is sweet onions. Lots of sweet onions. In your neck of the woods, they might be called Vidalia, Walla Walla, or Maui.
Around my place, they’re called Texas Sweets, and they’re the kind of onion we prefer to eat.
Storing sweet onions is different than a regular yellow or white onion, they need some special handling if you want to keep them for an extended period of time.
When can you expect your sweets? According to FineCooking, they’ll be coming to your kitchen soon:
- Maui: In season May through December. Smaller than other sweets.
- OsoSweet: From South America. Available January through March. Very high in sugars.
- Texas Sweet: Two kinds: Spring Sweets and Texas 1015 Super-Sweets (the number refers to the optimal planting date, October 15). Available March through June.
- Vidalia: In season April through June but available into the fall.
- Walla Walla: Available June to August.
Each area of the country has their own specialty sweet onion but as a general rule, in most parts of the USA, sweet onions are in season from April to August.
Special Handling Required
The sweet onion bruises easily and needs special handling – so be aware – there’s more to it than leaving them in the box they came in. If you plan to use them within a week or so, you can leave them out on the counter. For longer storage look for a place that will allow you to keep your sweets cool, dry, and separated.
You can do this by wrapping each onion individually in paper towels and then placing them in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator. This is storage method will keep them, for up to a month, but what if you don’t want to take up valuable refrigerator space with sweet onions?
Not in a Box – but in Your Socks!
Yes, in your socks…well pantyhose, really!
Get a clean pair of pantyhose (that goes without saying, right?) and load each leg with a series of onions. Tie a knot between them. This allows air to circulate around the onions, slowing spoilage. I hang mine in the pantry and cut off an onion as I need it. Your sweet onions, hanging in pantyhose, can last for four to six months.
How’s that for extending their shelf life!
Freeze Them in Small Batches
Before we moved to Texas I purchased 40 pounds of sweet onions and processed them for the freezer. Now that we’re settled, I once again have enough space to have a chest freezer in my house.
Here’s how I’ve processed them in the past. I spent a few hours chopping, chopping, chopping, and dividing my onion into 2 or 3 cup serving sizes. It is not necessary to blanch an onion before freezing it. I used my FoodSaver and was able to get 15 packages put away. That won’t last us a year, but since that bulk buy only cost me 0.75 cents a pound it’s a good start.
LifeHacker has a post – The Best Tear Free Tricks for Cutting Onion – you might want to check it out!
If you choose to freeze some of your sweet onion, you will only want to use them for cooking. Once they’re thawed they will be soft and not good for fresh eating or salads. Onions stored this way can last for at least 6 months and maybe even longer.
I am constantly rotating fruits and vegetables in and out of there. It’s part of my food storage plan. The goal is to store enough of the things we eat for a year and then replenish it in the next harvest.
Can You Can Them?
Preserving your bulk buy onions in a favorite recipe is another great way to have access to them in the future. You can include them in salsa and jelly. You may use the water bath method to preserve onion as long as you are using vinegar for acidity.
Onions are low acid foods with a pH of 5.3 to 5.85. If plain onions are to be canned, they must be pressure canned for safety and they should not be larger than 1-inch in diameter. See “Preserving Onions” at Clemson University Extension
Preserves made this way will last up to five years in your food storage.
Recipe: Sweet Onion Jelly Makes 3-1/2 cups of jelly
3 cups chopped onions (Vidalia, Walla Walla, or your favorite sweet variety)
3/4 cup cider vinegar
2 1/2-3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (1 5/8 ounce) package powdered fruit pectin (Ball Fruit Jell No Sugar Needed variety)
1. Puree the onion and vinegar together in a blender until smooth.
2. Pour into a saucepan.
3. Add the sugar and crushed pepper and bring to boil over medium-high heat.
4. Boil for five (5) minutes and then stir in the powdered pectin.
5. Bring to a hard boil and boil for one (1) minute.
6. Pour into hot sterilized jars, secure the lids, and process for ten (10) minutes in a boiling water bath.
You can safely reduce the amount of sugar in this recipe but not the amount of vinegar.
Purchase your sweet onions in bulk when they are in season and use one of these storage methods to preserve the harvest. With a bit of added care, sweet onions can last up to 6 months in the pantry. Do you have a favorite sweet onion recipe to share?
How to Store Sweet Onions in the Freezer
If you’ve ever tried to store whole onions in the freezer, then you already know what to expect if you make the same mistake twice. For those who haven’t tried it, know that a yucky and mushy mess awaits if you plan on committing to this mistake.
However, there is a way to store sweet onions in a freezer without this nasty side effect. Simply chop the sweet onions and place them in an airtight container. They’ll still become a little limp and watery, so you won’t be able to use them as fresh onions. But they’ll be a perfect fit for soups, stews, or other cooked dishes.
How to Store Cooked Onions
Peel and chop the onions that you plan on storing, then cook the pieces as evenly as possible.
Saute the onions in a little oil or butter until translucent — if you’re preparing a large amount, you may need to fry them in several smaller batches.
Once cool, store the cooked onion pieces in ziplocked bags or any resealable container for a few hours. Afterward, you can place said onions in the fridge for up to five days, or in the freezer using our previous method for up to three months.
Don’t Store Onions Near Potatoes
No matter where or how you choose to store your sweet onions, don’t ever put them near potatoes. Without going into minute details, raw potatoes tend to release moisture and gases that accelerate the onions’ spoilage process.
Of course, you can always cook and store the potatoes alongside the onions otherwise. Once they have met the frying pan and went through the cooking process, you can go ahead and store them together. And you can also try cooking recipes that involve these two ingredients.