Do you have a bumper crop or a store-bought bulk of onions? Chances are you’ll end up with leftovers after using a few of them to make dinner. And the last thing you want is for them to go bad before using them all.
By freezing onions, you’ll preserve your crop for a good number of months. Best of all, you can do this in a few easy steps.
Read on to learn how to freeze onions, whether they’re cut or whole, and what you can do with them!
Reasons for Freezing Onions
Learning how to freeze onions is useful since you won’t have to cut up onions every time you prepare dinner. They’re ready for whatever recipe you’re whipping up, meaning no extra kitchen gadgets to clutter your counter!
Another reason to learn this storing method is if you don’t have ideal storage conditions for onions. Room temperature and ventilation can be laborious to maintain, but freezing onions is an easy and convenient preservation method.
How to Freeze Chopped or Diced Onions
Step One: Gather
To learn how to freeze onions, gather these supplies:
- Onion chopper (optional, but useful)
- Cutting board
- Freezer bags
- Airtight containers
- Plastic wrap or aluminum foil
- Ice cube tray
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
The following items are something to consider if learning how to freeze onions leads you to tears as you’re chopping:
- Onion-cutting goggles
Step Two: Prepare
First, wash the onions by rinsing them under lukewarm water and scrub them. After that, peel off the skin. These tasks are to be done by hand.
If you find any brown, mushy, or decayed spots on the onions, remove them and throw them out.
Step Three: Cut
Next, cut off the top and bottom ½ inch of the onions and slice the onions in half. Then, on the cutting board, chop, slice, or dice the onions into pieces you desire for your meals.
Don’t chop the onions smaller than ½ an inch. When learning how to freeze onions, you don’t want to be completely made of ice.
You can also use an onion chopper to dice your onion halves if you have a lot to cut up.
Avoiding the Tears
Let’s be honest; cutting up onions isn’t a favorite cooking activity. The sulfurous vapors emitted from an onion’s root end after being cut irritate our eyes, making us cry. But there are ways to avoid this discomfort besides using an onion chopper!
Chill the onions in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before cutting them. The cold will make it harder for the onion to release the vapors.
You could also wear goggles to keep the vapors from reaching your eyes. Other ways include lighting a candle to consume the vapors or using a fan to blow the vapors away from you.
Crying over spilled milk is one thing, but you don’t have to cry over learning how to freeze onions!
Step Four: Freeze
This step may seem straightforward: Freeze the onions (in a bag or container) and you’re done. But learning how to freeze onions includes avoiding frozen clumps that make you have to break off some pieces.
Use the following tools to keep your chopped onions separate when freezing them.
Ice Cube Tray
Chopped or diced onions can fit in ice cube trays depending on the size of the pieces. This will make portioning them out easier when it’s time to put them in a bag or container.
After filling the cells, place a plastic wrap over the tray to contain the odor and put it in the freezer.
Another way to separate the onions when freezing them is with a baking sheet.
First, place parchment paper on the sheet and arrange your onions on it so they’re not touching each other. Cover the sheet in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and put the sheet in the freezer.
Step Five: Store
There are two ways you can hold your onions before storing them in the freezer. For either method, label them with the type of onions you froze. Then write down the date you froze them—the date you learned how to freeze onions!
After freezing onions in an ice cube tray or on a baking sheet, put them in freezer bags. Before sealing the bags, arrange the onions so they’re in a flat layer. This will allow for more storage space in the freezer.
Sometimes the vapors are strong enough to seep from the bag, so it’s best to double- or triple-bag the onions. That way you can avoid a lingering odor in your freezer and keep its contents from smelling like onion.
If you’re worried about onion vapors seeping from the bags or don’t want to use more bags, use airtight containers. Make sure you leave a ½ inch of headspace when filling them with onions.
How to Freeze Whole Onions
Yes, you can learn how to freeze onions without cutting them up! It saves you from having to spend time chopping and taking measures to avoid crying. Just know, however, that this may take up some freezer space, and you’d have to cut them up later.
Step One: Gather
You’ll need the onions and bags like before, but you’ll also need these additional supplies after omitting the cutting materials.
- Measuring cup
- Bowl of ice or cold water
- Slotted spoon
- Clean towel
Step Two: Prepare
Wash and peel the onions by hand as you did with the ones you chopped. Don’t forget to check for any brown and mushy spots before the next step!
Step Three: Blanch
Since you’re freezing onions without cutting them, you’ll need to blanch them. This is to prevent the onions’ cores from browning and decaying.
Take a pot of water and, with the stove’s burner on high, boil the water. Fill the pot with at least 1 gallon of water for every pound of onions.
Once the water comes to a full boil, place the onions in the pot. Small onions need three minutes to blanch, while large onions need seven minutes.
Step Four: Ice
With a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a bowl of ice or cold water to cool them down. If you’re using water instead of ice, make sure the temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Leave the onions in the bowl for three to seven minutes, similar to the wait times during the blanching process. When the time’s up, pour the bowl’s contents into a colander. Once all the water is drained, dry the onions with a clean towel.
Step Five: Store
After drying the onions, store them in freezer bags, let out the air, and seal them. Label the bags with the type of onions being frozen and jot down the date of freezing.
Ways to Use Frozen Onions
Now that you’re done freezing onions, you can use them for just about any recipe that calls for them. They may lose their crunchy texture after thawing out, but their flavor will remain.
Frozen onions are good ingredients for casseroles and pot roasts. You could also add them to ground beef, soups, and stews. While you’re cooking these recipes, just toss the onions in and they’ll thaw out.
Apple onion tart is a good recipe to try with your frozen chopped onions. And if want to prepare the onions before tossing them in your dishes, you can stir-fry or sauté them.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How long do onions last in the freezer?
Cut or whole, onions last for about eight months to a year in the freezer, so use them within that timeframe. For the best quality, use the onions within three months.
Of course, that depends on how well you stored them. As you learn how to freeze onions, it’s important to ensure your freezer bags or airtight containers seal properly.
2. Do I have to peel onions before freezing?
Whether or not you peel onions before freezing them is entirely up to you. However, the skin is dry and papery and may not taste too good.
Still, if you leave the skin on, you’d take in extra vitamins and minerals the flesh of onions also have. Even if you peel the onions, you could still eat the skin by adding them to soups and broths.
3. After freezing onions, is there a proper way to thaw them for your meals?
Yes. For whole onions, just remove them from the freezer and let them thaw in the refrigerator. It may take a while due to how hard they’ll be, which makes cutting them before freezing them an easier option.
For chopped onions, take a few of them out of the bag or container and toss them in a pan. They’ll thaw out as you cook them. If your onions are thin slices, submerge the freezer bag in cold water or store them in the refrigerator.
4. Can I freeze cooked onions?
You absolutely can! As you did with raw onions, place them in ice cube trays or separate them on baking sheets. Once they’re refrozen, transfer them to airtight containers or freezer bags.
Unlike raw onions, however, cooked onions will last for about three months in the freezer. Just know that the onions’ texture and flavor will diminish if you keep refreezing them.
Now You Know How to Freeze Onions!
Easy, time-saving, and convenient, learning how to freeze onions will omit any worries you have about your leftover onions spoiling.
However you decide to freeze your onions, you’ll save yourself from having to cut them for every meal. Even if you do that, you have ways to prevent the tears from falling.
Visit our Onions page to learn more about what you can do with these layered bulbs!
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With a lifelong appreciation for the vibrant hues and serene beauty of landscapes, Sarah Keck brings a wealth of practical and observational gardening knowledge to her writing. Her hands-on experience stems from years of assisting her mother in tending a diverse array of plants, mastering the art of plant care through careful adherence to proven horticultural practices.
A seasoned observer, Sarah delights in the study and admiration of flourishing flower gardens and lush greenery during her frequent strolls through local parks and the quiet streets of her neighborhood. Her natural curiosity drives her to investigate various plant species, deepening her understanding of the flora she encounters.
In addition to her botanical pursuits, Sarah cherishes the culinary arts, drawing from her college experiences of handling and preparing fresh produce. Her penchant for discovery leads her to continually refine her methods, which she eagerly documents and shares with fellow gardening enthusiasts.