How to Dry Onions for the Best Storage

Although onions are a common garden crop, many gardeners wonder how to harvest, dry and store them. When your onions are ready to harvest, they need to be completely dry before using them in your recipes or storing them for future use. Follow these tips for the best ways to dry your onions for successful storage.

When Are Onions Ready to Harvest and Dry?

You can tell your onions are ready to harvest when the stalks fall over and begin to dry. When you see the tipped onion tops, you can dry them using two methods:

  • Dry in the field – This is a simple method for drying onions. Just loosen the onion bulbs out of the soil using a garden fork. Leave them in the garden, allowing the sun to dry them out. This can take from one to two weeks, as long as the weather stays dry.
  • Dry in a storage shed – If you decide to harvest your onions before they’re dry, store them in a well-ventilated shed, garage or protected storage area. Spread the onions on a cool, dry surface for two to three weeks.

When using either of these drying methods, make sure the onion tops are completely dry and the outer layer of the bulb feels like paper. Drying onions is also known as curing them.

How to Prepare Cured Onions for Storage

Once you cure or dry your onions, snip off the onion tops about one-inch above the onion bulb. As you trim your onions, discard any bulb that show signs of rot, bruising and injury. If you see any onions with thick necks, use them right away because they don’t store very well.

Although trimming the stems is the most common method for storing onions, you can also braid the dried stems together, forming a bunch.

How to Store Dried Onions

Once you’ve prepared your onions for storage, place them in a mesh bag, wire basket or wooden crate that allows plenty of air circulation. You can even use nylon stockings to store your onions. Place the onions in a dry storage area that stays at 32ºF (0ºC) to 40ºF (4.4ºC) with a humidity of about 70 percent.

If you braided your onions, hang them from the ceiling or rafters in the same type of storage conditions. When storing your onions in a garage or outdoor shed, make sure to move them to a warmer location if the temperature goes below freezing.

What Is the Storage Life of Onions?

The length of time you can store your onions depends on the cultivar you planted and your storage conditions. If the conditions are optimal and you have hardy cultivars, the onions should store well for several months.