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My First Onions: Harvesting, Drying and Storing

July 28, 2011

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.

My first onions

My first onions

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.

Storing onions in trays

Storing onions in trays

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.

Storing onions in the kitchen

Storing onions in the kitchen

I’m already planning to grow shallots and pickling onions next year, which will be much smaller and sweeter.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 1, 2011 1:46 pm

    I was interested to read about keeping onions in a dark place – I was taught that you keep onions in the light or they will sprout, and potatoes in the dark so they don’t sprout. That is what I have been doing for many years and had no problems.

    • October 10, 2011 11:53 am

      For the short amount of time I’ve been networking online, I think its amazing how everyone has their own ways of doing things – so thank you for your comment. I’ve always been taught to store onions at room temperature (traditionally in mesh bag) in a dry, cool, dark, well ventilated place so when we found these cotton storage bags we thought they were a great way to store onions in the modern kitchen. Onions do eventually sprout but I’ve always been taught to keep them in a dark place for optimal storage expectancy. I hope this helps 🙂

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