Let’s admit it, a lot of delicious dishes start with humble slices of onion. As it imparts robust flavors to your cooking it’s likely that you buy bulks of this kitchen staple from the nearby farmer’s market. But the problem arises when you lack storage space. Not to mention the possibility of spoilage before you get to use all of them.
Sure there are plenty of ways to prolong their shelf life but you’re wondering, can you freeze onions instead? The simple answer is yes. And in this article, you’ll learn two methods for freezing onions along with tips to keep them tasty!
Why Freeze Onions?
Onions already last for quite a long time as is so why should you bother freezing onions? Well, there are two main reasons why it’s a good idea to freeze these root veggies.
First, of course, is to save space when you lack ideal storage space for fresh onions. Like many ingredients, proper storage greatly helps the shelf life of onions. Factors like humidity and temperature are the main culprits for making your bulbs soft, sprouty, and moldy. Additionally, storing them alongside other ingredients that produce natural gases like potatoes can also affect their condition. Among other methods how to preserve onions, storing them in the freezer saves space and is an easier option for when you can’t find a cool dark place in your kitchen.
The second reason why freezing onions is ideal is convenience. As many recipes count on onions for flavor, it certainly is a game-changer to have them ready to just toss in your dish. It cuts down prep time from slicing, chopping, or dicing on a daily basis. It is also a plus for those who want to avoid onion tears.
How to Freeze Onions
Freezing is actually one of the best ways to delay onion spoilage. And it’s easy peasy! Following these simple steps on how to freeze onions guarantee meal prep that is quick and breezy. Your dinner will surely be ready in no time!
What You’ll Need
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- Cookie sheets
- Freezer bags
Freezing Onions (Step-By-Step Guide)
- First, pick fully matured onions.
- Wash them well under running water to get rid of any dirt or gunk. You can use a handy vegetable brush for a more thorough cleaning.
- Peel the skin off and chop it to your preferred sizes.
- Then, freeze the onions using either of these methods:
Method 1: Dry Pack
Place the chopped onions in freezer bags. Remove all air and seal tightly. Lay the freezer bags flat on a tray before putting them in the freezer so they’ll cool much faster. Keeping them in a thin layer also helps lessen clumping.
Method 2: Tray Pack
Spread out the onion slices on a clean cookie sheet, then place them in the freezer. Wait for about an hour before transferring the frozen pieces of sliced or diced onions to the freezer bags. Squeeze out air from the bags, then put them back in the freezer.
- Divide your onions into specific portions like how you would typically need them in a recipe. It is best to reach for portioned small bags than to open a larger container every time you need them. Refreezing onions can change their texture and taste.
Can You Freeze Onions Whole?
You can do so, yes. However, freezing whole onions isn’t really recommended. Since they are whole, this actually takes away the convenience of freezing onions. They can be difficult to thaw and use, thus, taking up more time than needed. It would be much better to chop, slice, or dice them before freezing as most recipes will ask you to do so anyway.
But if you do wish to freeze whole onions, you’ll need to blanch large onions for about seven minutes and three minutes for smaller bulbs. When blanching whole onions, you must heat them all the way to their center for safer freezing.
Can You Freeze Chopped Onions?
Absolutely. In fact, it is great for freezing to best preserve their tasty bite. Other than chopped onions, you can freeze diced onions as well. Storing onions in the freezer in prepped pieces is more convenient and time-saving. Freezing versatile veggies like onions and celery this way extends their shelf life and freshness. Aside from chopped pieces, you can freeze diced onions and sliced ones too.
READ ALSO: Can You Freeze Celery? Yes. Here’s How
Tips for Freezing Onions
Now that you know how to preserve onions through freezing, here are some additional tips that might be of help:
- To minimize the onions’ strong odor, you can wash them under running water or keep them in thick freezer bags. After washing the onions, let the slices dry off first. Pat them with paper towels or let them air dry before transferring them into thick freezer bags. You can also double the bags if you don’t have the thick variety.
- Use freezer-friendly containers. Storing them in plastic freezer bags, freezer paper, freezer aluminum foil, and airtight plastic containers help prolong their life as well as prevent the pungent smell from spreading throughout your freezer.
- Label and date the containers. This helps you keep track of the onions’ freshness starting from when you began to freeze them.
- Keep your freezer at or below 0 degrees F. Frozen onions last better at consistent temperatures.
How Long Can You Freeze Onions?
The average shelf life of raw whole onions lasts for around two to three months if properly stored in a cool and dry environment. That’s surprisingly a long time for onions right? But the thing is, keeping them in good condition can be tricky. Factors like moisture and heat that speed up spoilage can be hard to control.
Alternatively, you may resort to freezing onions instead but how long do onions last in the freezer? Well, raw frozen onions are good for eight months when kept properly.
On the other hand, cooked onions last for up to three months in the freezer when stored in airtight containers or bags. Meanwhile keeping raw onions in the fridge will help them last for two weeks.
How can you tell if an onion has gone bad, though? You can determine this through its feel, smell, and color. Initially, when you notice onions sprouting it means they’re starting to go bad. Spoiled onions will have dark spots and become soft and mushy. Moreover, you can always trust your nose for detecting spoiled food. If they’re starting to smell anything other than sharp and zingy, then it would be best to discard or compost them.
How to Use Frozen Onions
The good thing about homemade frozen onions is that you get to chop them to your preferred sizes. The downside, however, is that freezing changes their texture, making them unfit for dishes that need the raw crunch of onions such as salads and salsas.
You need not worry though! You can still make delicious meals out of these frozen veggies. They work perfectly with cooked dishes such as stews, soups, and casseroles. Moreover, you can also use frozen onions as a flavorsome addition to sautéing. Try out the following recipes for when you plan on using your frozen onions:
- French Onion Soup – Serve this crowd-favorite soup to your family following this easy recipe! Caramelized onions give this stew depth and sweetness. Pair this savory soup with French bread for a filling meal.
- Potbelly’s Creamy Cheddar Broccoli Soup – This delightfully filling soup is both hearty and healthy. For this, you only need to simmer the sauteed vegetables in rich chicken broth and milk. Blend it into a smooth soup and enjoy with a garnish of cheddar cheese!
- White Chicken Chili – This Mexican-inspired dish makes for the perfect comfort food! The combination of familiar chili ingredients in a light chicken broth will truly delight your taste buds. Best of all you can use leftover ingredients for this dish and customize it however you like.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Store Onions?
The best way to store onions is to keep them in a cool and dark place with temperatures between 45 and 55 degrees F. You can hang them in the basement, root cellar, or pantry. Additionally, it is best to keep them properly ventilated by keeping them in an open basket or mesh bag. For longer, more convenient use, freezing onions is your best bet. But you can also pickle them or turn raw onions to onion powder for longer use.
How to Store Cooked Onions?
If you have any leftover cooked onions, don’t toss them right away! They can last for three to five days in the fridge. But can you freeze cooked onions? Absolutely. They can actually last for up to three months in the freezer. You can freeze your caramelized onions in the fridge in an airtight container. Do remember proper storage of cooked food, let them cool a few hours after cooking to prevent bacteria growth.
How to finely chop an onion?
Using a sharp knife is important when cutting onions. This makes the whole process faster, easier, and well, tear-free. Cut the peeled onion in half, then cut the tip but leave the roots intact. Position it cut-side down and make vertical slices down the onion. Turn the onion with the root opposite the knife and make horizontal cuts towards the root. Lastly, cut through the layers as you normally would, making finer pieces of chopped onion. You can also use a food processor for bigger batches if you like.
What are the best onions for freezing?
You can pretty much freeze any type of onions you have. Red onions, yellow onions, shallots, white onions, leeks, or green onions are all suitable for freezing. Regardless of its size or form, you can freeze onions as long as you follow the proper steps. For the best results, it’s recommended to freeze onions that are in their prime condition for better flavor. However, you can still freeze the ones that need saving.
Freezing Onions Is Definitely a Good Idea
There’s no need to throw out unused chopped onions anymore. Freezing is yet another way to keep them at the best quality for later use. Plus, preparing your onions in advance is truly a time-saver! When ready to use, all you have to do is pull them out of the freezer and start cooking. You’ll surely enjoy the convenience it’ll bring to you.
Read Next: How to Freeze Carrots (Step-by-Step Guide)