Ok, I know most gardeners have long since dealt with their onions, since most are ready to harvest in June. In Minnesota, most of us didn’t harvest until July because of the weather. I pulled all mine out in early August, let them air dry outside for a day or two, then put them in our lower garage, which serves as my pseudo root cellar. I have to say, though, August and September don’t really do much for storing root crops. Flipping back through the notebook I keep in my office with all my to-do’s I see that I started writing “Chop Onions” as early as September 2nd. You will be happy to hear that I was finally able to check that off my list… On September 30th.
I would like to share how I deal with my onions.
Maybe it’s just me, but my onions do not keep through the winter. I don’t know if it’s because I am a bad gardener or because I’m a bad store-er. I’m guessing it’s a little of both. Should I cut the tops off before I cure them, or leave them on? Should I let them dry in the sun a day before shuttling them off to the dark depths of the lower garage or let them dry longer? You can find support for just about any variation. Seriously. I’ve researched this. I’m willing to chalk my failures up to variations in circumstances. That rationale has served me well in all areas of life, by the way.
This year was a good onion year, albeit a late one. After harvesting, I leave the tops on, letting them dry for a day in the sun. Then, I put them in a ventilated box (mine is the lid to an old rabbit hutch, the occupants of which I decided would be happier if left to roam the wilds of our 40 acres) and put them in the lower garage, which is dark and cool.
I write “chop onions” on my to do list about a month later. After ignoring that line item for about a month, I decide to “chop onions” on the day that I also have to “make salsa.” It would be easy to continue to ignore “chop onions” except for the fact that I need a lot of chopped onions to “make salsa.” So, the two would seem to go together quite nicely. (“Make Salsa” post coming in the next day or two.)
In the past, I have been totally anal about the chopping of my onions, preferring perfectly diced cubes, which of course requires hand chopping. This year, however, I have decided to cut corners and pulse the onions in the food processor to see if it makes any difference.
First, however, I have to decide which onions to chop and which to store. Since this was a good year for onions, it appears that I have lots I might be able to store for at least a few months. It would be a lot easier just to store them all, but I have to say: grabbing a handful of chopped and frozen onions during the winter for sauteing is a luxury I have learned not to live without. Plus, when I first started growing onions, I learned the hard way that many of the onions start to rot from the center out. That resulted in a lot of wasted onions for me. Now, I am ruthless when it comes to judging whether an onion should be stored or chopped.
If there is any give at all in the stem area of the onion, it goes into the chopping pile:
Sometimes I am right in my assessment:
Sometimes I am wrong:
But this year, I am very happy with my storage pile. It’s always nice to have some back-up onions ready for chopping:
The rest, I peel and quarter and chop.
But either way, let me give you a great tip: USE GOOGLES FOR NO TEAR ONION HANDLING!
Anyway, I put the the chopped onions on to cookies sheets in a layer about 1/2″ to 1″ thick. And let me give you another valuable tip: USE WAX PAPER AS A SHEET LINER. I did not, and now I have onion smelling cookie sheets. Morgan made some cookies yesterday that have a very peculiar onion aroma that I can’t say added much to the flavor of the cookies.
I freeze the sheets, and then break into pieces and store in freezer bags.