Experts say storage method 'keeps onions fresh for half a year'

How to clean a BBQ using an onion
Where do you store your onions? -Credit:Getty Images/iStockphoto

Onions, a staple in many dishes from spaghetti bolognese to chicken tikka masala, can last up to six months if stored correctly, experts have said. However, improper storage can lead to quick spoilage.

Storing onions is somewhat of an art form, with temperature playing a crucial role. Experts advise that proper storage can extend the life of your onions to half a year, but where should they be kept?

Contrary to what some might think, the fridge is not the place for your onions. The cold and humid conditions cause the onion to convert starch into sugar, leading to soggy and soft onions over time, which lose their crunch when cooked.

Instead, brown, white and red onions should be kept somewhere dark, cool, dry and well-ventilated. While the kitchen cupboard may seem like the ideal spot, it's important to ensure it's not near your oven.

The fluctuating temperatures when using your oven can create a warm and moist environment, causing the same issues as fridge storage, reports the Mirror. Storing onions in a cabinet away from your cooker is ideal; if you are fortunate enough to possess one, a garage or cellar would be even better. In addition to a cool, dry environment, onion storage should avoid direct sunlight as it can promote mould.

It's not just 'where' but 'how' you store onions that makes the difference. Experts at Stop Food Waste have advised removing onions from any supermarket plastic packaging before stashing them, saying: "Never keep these items in sealed plastic as it will quickly cause spoilage."

The issue with plastic bags is they trap moisture, increasing the likelihood of mould. The recommendation instead is to "keep onions and garlic in a basket or paper bag where air can circulate". Stored this way, "onions and garlic can last up to three to six months".

If you need to store onions in some form of bag, opt for a net or mesh bag which facilitates better airflow than its plastic counterpart. If you're without these, an old pair of tights can be ingeniously repurposed. Just pop the onions into one leg, tie it off above them and keep going until you've got a filled hosiery leg.

Finally, it's best to store your onions separately from other produce. Onions can absorb moisture from other fruits and vegetables, which can lead to quicker spoilage. Plus, they're quite a strong-smelling vegetable, so storing them with other produce could result in those items taking on an onion-like smell and taste.