Onions are a staple in many houses in the United States. Like most vegetables, onions go bad with time. Which brings us to the question, how long do onions last?
First of all, it is important to note that there are several factors that influence the shelf life of onions. Storage is one of those factors.
In summary, onions stored at room temperature can last for a maximum of three months. If you store them in your fridge, they will stay fresh for up to two months. Frozen onions can last for one year when frozen properly and pickled onions last for six months when stored properly. When stored in the fridge, cooked onions can last for 9 days.
Let’s get into the details about the shelf life of onions.
The shelf life of onions
Onions have a relatively long shelf life just like garlic. When stored properly, they can even last for much longer. The shelf life of onions is highly dependent on where you store them. You can store them at room temperature, inside the refrigerator, or the freezer.
At room temperature
When stored at room temperature, onions can retain their good quality for three months. When choosing where you will store your onions, ensure that the place has enough air circulation, is cool, dry, and also dark.
In the fridge
If you stored a whole bulb of onion in the fridge, it will retain its good quality for approximately 2 months. Cut or chopped onions will only stay fresh for a maximum of 10 days. If you store chopped onions in the fried, make sure you check for any signs of spoilage before use. Them being store in the fridge does not guarantee that they will stay fresh until you are ready to use them.
Cooked onions should also be stored in the fridge. They will last for approximately 5 days when stored properly.
When storing onions in the fridge, you should use a plastic airtight container. Alternatively, you can wrap them in aluminum foil.
In the freezer
The freezer is the best place to store your onions if you bought them in bulk so that you can have a steady supply.
Frozen onions have a shelf life of 12 months. However, they may only last for a short time if you do not follow the right freezing technique. Freezing is recommended for diced, sliced, or chopped onions.
You should know that frozen onions will have a softer texture compared to the ones stored at room temperature. When thawed, the onions shed their ice coating hence the soft texture.
How to properly freeze onions
As I mentioned above, you can freeze chopped, diced, or sliced onions if you want them to last for a long time. Here are the steps you need to follow for them to freeze properly.
The first thing you need to do is place the onions in boiling water for about three minutes. Once the three minutes elapse, remove them from the boiling water and place them in a cold ice bath. The ice bath is necessary because it ensures that the onions stop cooking.
Remove the onions from the ice bath and pat them dry. Line a tray with parchment paper and place the onions on it. Place the tray in the freezer for an hour to let the onions freeze individually and do not clump together.
Once the onions are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag before returning them to the freezer. I suggest that you use a vacuum-sealed bag for the best results.
How to properly store onions
The key to your onions lasting for a long time is proper storage. Proper storage will also maintain the freshness of your onions. Storing onions is not as easy as placing them inside your pantry. There are several things that you should consider including; air circulation, temperature, and humidity.
Onions should be stored at a cool temperature. They should also be stored in a dark place that has good ventilation. The pantry and kitchen cabinet are a good choice. Just make sure that the cabinet is not close to your oven or stove. The basement and garage are also good places to store onions because of the cool temperature and good ventilation.
Another factor that you should consider is moisture. Onions should be stored in a dry place. Always ensure that there are no sources of moisture close to where you store your onions.
Proper circulation is another factor that you should consider. Onions need to have enough air circulation when stored. Therefore, you should store them in a bag that allows free airflow. If you have no such bag, a brown bag will do. All you need to do is punch some holes in the bag and leave the top open when you store the onions. Alternatively, you can use a container that has no lid.
When storing onions avoid using plastic bags. Plastic bags will not have enough air circulation and your onions will go bad at a faster rate.
I suggest that you always store onions in a single layer. Stacking multiple layers of onions on top of one another is not ideal because they will lack the much needed air circulation.
Another thing that you should know is that onions should not be washed before storage. Just leave them as they are. When washed, onions become vulnerable to rotting.
Onions should not be stored close to vegetables and fruits that produce ethylene. Some of these fruits and vegetables include tomatoes, bananas, and potatoes. Ethylene is a chemical that accelerates the ripening process of fruits and vegetables. When stored together, both the onions and the fruit/ vegetable will be susceptible to rot.
Halved raw onions should not be stored in the refrigerator as they are. They will become soggy and consequently won’t be able to handle the cooking process.
How to store peeled onions
Once you peel an onion, you should store it inside the refrigerator. Doing this will prevent bacteria from setting in.
When storing peeled onions, you should always place them inside an airtight container. Additionally, ensure that your refrigerator is set to 4 degrees Celsius or 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
When you strictly follow these steps, your peeled onions will stay fresh for approximately two weeks.
How to store pickled onions
Pickling onions is one of the best methods of extending their shelf life. The special solution used in pickling prevents the growth of bacteria and keeps the onions fresh for approximately six months. Pickled onions should be stored inside the refrigerator to extend their shelf life.
How to store diced, sliced, or chopped onions
Diced, sliced, or chopped onions should also be stored inside the refrigerator. Simply place the onions in an airtight container and set the temperature of your refrigerator at 4 degrees Celsius or 4 degrees Fahrenheit. This way, your onions will last for approximately 20 days.
Some grocery stores and local supermarkets also sell already sliced onions. When buying such, always check the expiry date. Store them inside the refrigerator as soon as you get home. Store bought sliced onions should always be discarded as soon as they expire.
In case you want to store the diced, sliced, or chopped onions for much longer, you should store them in your freezer. Frozen diced onions will remain fresh for approximately six months.
Signs that your onions have gone bad
When it comes to determining whether your onions have gone bad, always use your best judgment. Here are a few signs that your onions are no longer safe to eat.
- Black spots.
If you look at your onions and notice black spots, the onions have gone bad. Black spots are usually an indication that molds have begun to form.
- Thin white strands appearing on sliced onions.
These white strands are another indication that molds have begun growing on your onions. You should throw them out because they are no longer safe to consume.
- Young shoots appearing at the top part of the onion bulb.
Onions should not have shoots growing at the top part of the onion bulb. If you see any, your onions are no longer safe to use and you should throw them out.
- Weird smell
Onions do not necessarily have a pleasing smell, but we all know how they smell like. If the smell of your onions seems off, chances are that they have gone bad.
- Slimy texture
This sign is particularly common in diced, chopped, or sliced onions. If you notice that the onions have a slimy texture, they have gone bad and you should throw them out.
Onions have a long shelf life. However, you need to store them properly so that they do not go bad at a fast rate. Choose a place that is cool, dry, and dark.
Additionally, ensure that the onions have enough air circulation and are not close to any sources of heat or moisture. When storing onions in the refrigerator, use a plastic airtight container. You should also use the right procedure in freezing for the best results.