We cook with onions all the time—they’re an indispensable ingredient in stews and stock, and they elevate our morning scramble. That’s why we’re sorry to report that we have used and abused this culinary staple—having never known, until now, what it needed from us.
But for real, if you typically toss a plastic produce bag full of onions in the fridge (raises hand), then you probably didn’t realize this kitchen workhorse needs some TLC. when it comes to storage. Here’s how to store onions so they stay fresh for as long as possible.
How to Store Whole Onions
If your onions haven't been stripped of their dry outer skin, the National Onion Association says that the best storage spot is somewhere cool, dark and well-ventilated. (That last part takes the refrigerator out of the running.) Onions have a bad habit of absorbing moisture from their surroundings, so the often-humid conditions of your fridge will serve neither you nor your meal plan well.
And if your counter’s in a sunny spot, that’s not ideal either. What to do instead? Opt for the pantry, or your garage, basement, or other cool and dark nook in your home. (OK, maybe not under your bed, but you get the idea.) When stored in a dark, dry place like a basement or root cellar—or anywhere else that doesn’t get warmer than 50 degrees fahrenheit—unpeeled onions boast a shelf life of up to 3 months.
How to Store Peeled Onions
Okay, you don’t have a basement, and the thought of storing onions in your closet or under your bed sounds like witchcraft gone wrong (and possibly smelly sweaters). Well, there’s good news, friends—your fridge can actually save the day. The only catch is that you have to peel those puppies first. To store onions in this fashion, remove the dry encasement (i.e., peel) and send them to the fridge in an airtight container, where they will remain flavorful for up to two weeks.
How to Store Cut Onions
It may be the enemy of an unpeeled onion, but to a bulb that has been breached, the fridge is a best friend. The next time you cut into a red onion to add a little flavor to your sammy or chop up most of an oversized vidalia to sauté for a Spanish tortilla, seal up the rest of the onion in plastic wrap or an airtight storage bag before you place it in the fridge. When stored in this way, a cut onion will have a whole week—and that’s plenty of time for it to live up to its full delicious potential in your next dinner.
Note: the same is true of a whole onion that has been diced, sliced, or chopped in any manner—so feel free to get a head start on dinner prep.