Here is a very simple trick to ensure the hard work you put in growing your onions does not go to waste after you have harvested them.
You know they are ready to harvest when the stalks start to fall over. They may still be green, but go floppy at the neck – it’s a sign that they are ready to pull and store.
If no rain is due its good to just lay them flat on the soil where you have been growing to dry a bit more in the sun. But if you really want to cure your onions properly before long term storage then the best way is to hang them upside-down in a slatted rack – as per the photos here.
This allows the stalks to completely dry out right down to the neck as the air can circulate evenly all around.
When the stalks are quite dry and ‘Raffia-like’ they can be trimmed off close to the neck with scissors or secateurs. Discard any bruised or otherwise damaged ones and then, for optimum, long term storage, place them in a cool, dark but airy place like a large cupboard or shelf in the shed or cellar, preferably in single layer trays or open weave baskets. Air flow is important so don’t stack them up in tall containers like plastic buckets.
The best onions to store for longer periods are the most pungent – these tend to be smaller, brown onions. The extra sulphur in these helps preserve them longer, even up to 12 months in optimum conditions e.g. dark and around 5-10 degrees C.
Sweeter onions like red or Spanish onions tend to have less sulphur and therefore don’t last as long in storage. If in doubt then make some Onion Marmalade where the extra sugars will do the preserving and the end result is totally delicious.
If you use onions regularly then you can make a French Plait – so don’t cut the dried stalks off, but plait them (best to include some string in the plait too) then hang them in the kitchen so they are easily to hand when you need one.
Again this encourages good air flow around the onions and of course it also adds a very rustic touch to your kitchen too.