My First Onions: Harvesting, Drying and Storing
Having shied away from growing onions in the first two years, I am thrilled to be harvesting my first onions! Actually they’ve turned out much better than I expected. I always associate the growing of onions with experienced allotment holders but really, it was easy. All I really needed to do was keep an eye on any invasive weeds and water sparingly during dry spells.
Now that the leaves have started to yellow and die back, I’ve started to harvest them. If dried and stored correctly I am told that onions will keep for up to six months (but I’ll be impressed if they keep for three!).
The onion foliage needs to be completely dry before storing the onions. All you really need is a spell of warm, dry weather and a drying rack. I made a simple drying rack with a few bricks and old wire rack. (It felt a bit like building a DIY barbeque!).
Once you’ve lifted the onions and you have your drying rack ready, brush off the mud and lay the bulbs on the wire rack to start drying in the sunshine. It will take a good few days, even up to a week, for the onions to completely dry. You’ll notice how the foliage goes papery just as you see them on the market and in the shops.
Use any softening onions straight away and store the best, dried onions in a dark, cool, dry place. Popular storage techniques are either by hanging in nets or old tights if you’re feeling eco-friendly! Packing carefully in layers in wooden boxes or trays also works well, which is what my Nannie used to do in her cold store.
I like to keep a dozen onions close to hand in the kitchen so I find these black-out onion bags quite handy. They are washable and can be refilled again and again as kitchen demands. Feeling quite smug right now that the onions I’ll be cooking tonight are my first onions that I’ve harvested and dried myself.
I’m already planning to grow shallots and pickling onions next year, which will be much smaller and sweeter.