Keep your onions flavorful with these pro storage tips.
As far as kitchen staples go, onions are easily one of the most indispensable (hence our love for buying them in bulk). Yet, despite our best efforts, getting through our onion stash before they go mushy or start sprouting can be tough.
To avoid wasting any more onions (and, well, money), mastering proper storage techniques for each type of onion is paramount—so we went to the experts to find out how to give your go-to onions the TLC they deserve, and maximize their storage life in the process. Here, the ultimate guide:
Unlike much of the produce we cart home from the supermarket, onions shouldn’t be kept in the fridge if they’re in their whole, unpeeled form. “Keeping them in the fridge may actually make them spoil faster, as they’ll absorb more moisture and may become mushy,” says registered dietitian Catherine Brennan, R.D.N. Storing them in a cool, dry, dark, and well-ventilated room or cabinet is the way to go. Avoid keeping them in plastic or cloth bags, and instead opt for a mesh bag or a box with holes or slats to ensure they get enough ventilation. “Onions can usually be stored for about a month, although sweet onions may spoil faster,” says Brennan.
The best way to store peeled onions is to refrigerate them in an airtight container—exposing them to as little oxygen as possible will keep them fresher and bacteria-free for longer, says Brennan. (Typically, they can last in the fridge this way for up to two weeks.) Brennan also recommends storing onions in glass containers—the onion flavor may transfer into plastic containers, then transfer to the next food you store in them. (Ew.)
Cut up onions can also be stored in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 10 days. Make sure to eat them as quickly as possible—the longer they sit post-cut, the more they’ll oxidize and lose their vitamins, says Florida-based registered dietitian Carol Aguirre, R.D.
Want even more storage tips? Read on:
- How to Store Potatoes So They Don’t Go Bad
- Here’s Exactly How to Store Salad Greens Until You Need Them
- 6 Mistakes You’re Making When Storing Fresh Produce
Though these onions have been cooked to a high temperature to kill bacteria, they’re more likely to fall into the food safety temperature “danger zone” during serving or cooling, where bacteria can grow more rapidly (between 40-140° F), says Brennan. It’s best to get cooked onions into the fridge within two hours of cooking to avoid bacterial growth. They can be stored in an airtight container for roughly three to five days.
Similar to regular onions, shallots should be stored in a cool, dry, dark, and well-ventilated place, as a lack of air circulation will reduce their shelf life, says Massachusetts-based registered dietitian Kimberly Greene Murachver, R.D. You can store them in a mesh bag, wire basket, or even pantyhose to maximize air circulation and keep them fresh as long as possible.
Scallions or Leeks
If you’re using them within a day or two, scallions and leeks can be kept on the counter, with root ends immersed in a jar of water, says Murachver. (However, if it’s too hot or humid in your kitchen, you can pop the jar into the fridge with a plastic bag loosely on top to stave off wilting—just make sure to change the water every couple of days.) Delays happen, so if it turns out you won’t be able to use them for a few days or more, wrap the ends in a damp paper towel and secure them with a rubber band. Place them loosely into a plastic bag before storing the onions in your crisper drawer.
Because they have a higher water content, chives are the most delicate of the bunch and have a shorter shelf life. If using within a few days, you can stand them up (root ends down) in a jar that contains a few inches of water and cover them loosely with a plastic bag before popping them into the fridge, says Aguirre. You can also store them in a resealable plastic bag, with the air still inside (to prevent excess moisture from spoiling them), for up to one week. Wash the chives only when you’re ready to use them, she adds. If they’re wilted, you can rehydrate them before using by soaking them in a bowl of ice water.