How To Store Onions Long-Term

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When it comes to cooking, onions are a versatile and essential ingredient that adds flavor to numerous dishes. Whether you have a surplus of homegrown onions or want to buy them in bulk, knowing how to store onions long-term is essential to prevent spoilage and preserve their freshness. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various methods, including stringing, braiding, and using crates, to store onions effectively for extended periods. We will also discuss optimal storage conditions and alternative locations besides a root cellar.

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Storing Onions from the Garden

If you have a bountiful onion harvest from your garden, proper storage is crucial to enjoy them throughout the year. Follow these steps to store onions from the garden:

Harvest at the right time

Harvest onions when the tops have fallen over and started to dry. Avoid harvesting onions with green tops as they won’t store well. It is best to plan your onion harvesting day when the weather is clear and the ground is dry. In these conditions the onions can be pulled from the ground and laid on top of the soil for 24-48 hours.

Cure the onions

Allow the freshly harvested onions to cure by spreading them out in a dry and well-ventilated area. This process helps them develop a protective layer and enhances their flavor. Leave them undisturbed for about two to three weeks until the necks are completely dry.

Remove excess dirt

Once the onions are cured, gently brush off any loose dirt or debris. Do not wash the onions, as moisture can promote spoilage during storage.

3 Ways To Store Onions Long-Term

If you’re fortunate enough to grow your own onions, proper storage is crucial to enjoy them throughout the year. Follow these methods to store onions from your garden long-term!

How To String Onions

how to string onions

This method is the tried and true old-fashion way of storing the onion harvest! Stringing your onions allows for compact storage as well as being able to take one onion at a time, without disrupting the entire bunch. Simply grab hold of the top onion and pull gently to release. It is also nice because you can simply string up your bundles with as many onions as your family is going to use in one or two weeks, allowing you to store the remainder out of the humid and hot kitchen.

After the roots are trimmed, cut the necks of the onion at approximately 2-3 inches, being careful to leave as much skin as possible on the bulb. Fold a piece of twine in half and string it above you, either on a hook in the ceiling or wall. Tie the two pieces of twine together at the bottom and then create a slipknot in order to slide the stem of the onions through and pull tight. Always start each string with the strongest and sturdiest neck of your harvest in order to have a good foundation. For the second onion, slip it through the opening and then wrap the stem over and around itself to secure. Continue securing the remainder in the same fashion, making sure to wrap the stem over and around. The bundles need to be hung in a cool, dark place and checked regularly for signs of rot.

How To Braid Onions

Braiding onions is another traditional method that offers a beautiful and practical way to store them. You will want to leave the stalks intact for this method, however the roots will still be trimmed, either before or after you’ve braided them.

how to braid onions

Start with three of the best quality stems. Lay two of the stalks criss-crossed over each other and then take the third onion and place in directly in the middle. Wrap the bottom most stem around all three stalks to secure the bundle. Next, place a new onion in line with the center stalk and braid all three stalks together. Now take two onions and line them up with the left and right stalk of the main braid and braid all three stalks again. Continue the center, left and right pattern until you have the braid at the desired length. Only braid enough onions for what your family uses in a week or two, that way the rest can stay in optimal storage conditions and out of the hot kitchen. You can tie off the ends of your bundles with a bit of string to secure the braid. Hang the bundles in a cool, dark place and check regularly for signs of rot.

Storing Onions In A Box Or Create

Using crates is a convenient method for storing a large quantity of onions. If you prefer to store your onions in a large vessel as opposed to the two hanging methods mentioned above, there are a few things you must keep in mind in order to store your harvest for as long as needed.

how to store onions long-term

Make sure your container is well ventilated. Boxed crates or baskets are best but you could also use a box with holes or a container with a way to absorb excess moisture. As with any method, you want to store the onions in a dark, cool location, such as a root cellar or basement with air flow. Make sure you are frequently checking your onions for mold or any abnormal growth as this method often allows rot to go unnoticed, therefore allowing for faster spread to your entire harvest.

Optimal Storage Conditions for Long-Term Onion Storage

To ensure the long-term storage of onions, it’s important to create optimal storage conditions. There are a few key factors to keep in mind when storing onions long term.


Onions prefer cool temperatures between 32°F (0°C) and 40°F (4°C). Avoid storing them in areas prone to extreme temperature fluctuations.


Onions require moderate humidity levels of around 65-70%. Excessive moisture can cause rot, while too little moisture can lead to dehydration.


Adequate airflow is crucial for preventing moisture buildup and maintaining onion quality. Choose storage methods that allow air to circulate around the onions.

how to store onions from garden

Alternative Locations for Long-Term Onion Storage

If you don’t have access to a root cellar, there are alternative locations where you can store onions long-term:

  1. Garage: If your garage maintains a consistently cool and dry environment, it can be a suitable place for onion storage. Ensure the area is well-ventilated and protected from direct sunlight.
  2. Basement: Basements often offer cooler and more stable temperatures, making them ideal for storing onions. Ensure the humidity levels are controlled and there is sufficient airflow.
  3. Spare refrigerator: If you have an extra refrigerator that you can dedicate to onion storage, it can provide the cool and controlled environment necessary for long-term storage. Place the onions in a well-ventilated container or mesh bag to maintain proper airflow.


Proper long-term storage of onions is essential to preserve their flavor and quality. Whether you prefer stringing, braiding, or using crates, each method offers effective ways to store onions for extended periods. Remember to consider optimal storage conditions such as temperature, humidity, and airflow. Additionally, alternative locations like the garage, basement, or spare refrigerator can serve as viable options for long-term onion storage. By following these methods and tips, you can enjoy fresh and flavorful onions throughout the year.

Hey Beautiful! I’m Tara, garden enthusiasts, keeper of chickens, herbal homesteader and stay at home mom of 3 tiny humans and a sourdough starter named Ma. I love teaching others how to live a self-sufficient and sustainable life through homesteading, scratch cooking, and remembering to live barefoot, wild and free!

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