How to Store Onions and Potatoes





Introduction: How to Store Onions and Potatoes

About: I've been posting Instructables since the site's inception, and now build other things at Autodesk. Follow me for food and more!

We use lots of onions, so need to store them in reasonably large quantity.

Unfortunately, while we bring them home from the store in plastic bags, storing them in the plastic bags leads to mold and sprouting. They need to live in a dry, breathable container, but I also hate buying baskets! Thankfully, sturdy paper grocery bags provide a great solution.

Just cut them off an inch or two below the upper fold. Two of them side-by-side fit nicely in my standard-size cabinet, so I can sort red and yellow onions. Trim a smooth curve in the front face for easy access to the onions.
The bags are sturdy enough that I can tug them out and shove them around while full of onions without fear of breakage, and the onions breathe well enough I haven't had any more problems with sprouting or mold.

I originally intended these to be extremely short-term storage solutions, but they're still working beautifully several months down the road. I'm not terribly worried about the aesthetics of my onion bins, so I'll stick with this reuse project until something better presents itself.



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    31 Discussions

    The picture shows there are roots growing on the onion.... is that normal and can you still eat them? Also, when you do get those roots, is that what you can plant in the ground to grow more onions?

    6 replies

    Those are shoots (stem that grows up above ground) not roots you see pictured, the roots grow after it is planted in semi-warm soil that is moist, but yes you can still eat the onion, including the shoots though they are sometimes too tough unless cooked, or you can cut off a bit of the end along with the root and grow more onions though certified seed onions are graded to produce better results, often higher yield. Same with potatoes but I would not bother trying to eat the shoots as I doubt they would taste good or much like potatoes.

    Oh my goodness, PLEASE don't go around telling people they can eat anything from a potato plant (shoots, stems, leaves etc.) aside from the actual potato. Please, please, pretty please don't, you'll get someone hurt that way. The potato plant is in the nightshade family (you know, as in belladonna, aka deadly nightshade... yeah, that family... so are tomatoes, now that I'm on that train of thought). THE ONLY part of a potato plant that is safe to eat is the potato. Onions? Yes. Potatoes? Only if you're trying to hurt yourself or others. Seriously. Just because one part of a plant is edible, that doesn't mean everything (or anything) else from the plant is safe to eat.

    Another edible nightshade is the eggplant.
    The old Irish would wait until the potato eye sprout was a couple of inches long, with roots, pare out the eye and plant it, and cook the rest of the potato.

    Read the question again - then read the reply. You will see that no one was referring to potatoes at all, rather Onions, which was reiterated several times for emphasis and clarity.

    Perhaps you should slow down a little and not skip over anything? Otherwise, You could very well misinterpret information, causing yourself harm instead?

    (I hope this falls within the "Comment Policy" guidelines.)

    Quite true. Originally even the potato itself was toxic. South American natives ate a type of clay with them to neutralize it.

    The time when the onion becomes inedible is when it shrivels too much from lack of retained moisture under it's skin, or molds because it didn't lose enough moisture, or rots because it was too warm, though from surface mold you can still peel off a couple layers and eat the rest, the middle that hasn't molded yet. Use caution doing this, make sure there is no rot, and best to rinse and cook them if they are old enough to have molded. Personally I would just throw it away instead at that point.

    I have a problem. I am a novice when it comes to garden produce but my folks are away on hols and i pulled up my dads entire crop of onions. Over 40. However, i washed off the dirt but im not sure if i should have done that due to the need for them to be kept dry. i have hung some up in the shed which is cool and dry and well ventilated, however, some of the others i cut off the leaves without realising thats how dad stores them. The onions without the leaves on are also damp so i warpped them up in newspaper to dry them out. is this wise?

    3 replies

    I wouldn't leave them wrapped up for very long - you do want to dry them, but after a few hours the newspapers probably are probably going to start keeping the remaining water in. Perhaps you can put them on a hanging or elevated screen in the shed? A piece of chicken wire would probably do nicely.

    empty mesh bags oranges came in are good to put onions in I also use mesh bags frozen turkeys come in.......put 3 finishing nails 3" apart in a board you have put on the garage wall next to the door going into the house slide the bag on and off the nails flatways to easily aquire an onion when you need it.

    I like your idea of the mesh bags. One question I have. I've harvested my onions and some potatoes. Am I supposed to wash them off they are all covered with dirt? jb

    I've been storing my onions and potatoes this way for years... the only thing I do differently is... I cut the bag right under the handles.. or just rip off the handles.. then I fold and roll the paper bag down to the size I need.. this gives it a very durable and strong edge instead of just a flimsy one that can rip or bend easily... I have also used the rolled down paper bags for ice cubes storage in the freezer instead of the tray -- the ice cubes NEVER stick.. and another use is for a bread basket... they look great on the table.. no bowls to search for and clean up is a breeze!!

    2 replies

    Never mind the three years, I LIKE your paper bag suggestions... especially the ice cube storage solution... 'Think I'll try that today (It's 100 degrees outside).

    That's a smart modification - I'll definitely give it a try next time! You've really found quite a few creative uses for paper bags.

    Thanks for the tip on how to properly store these bad boys. I've been keeping them in my hanging fruit basket and missing how fruit looked in them ;)

    1 reply

    THP:  Brilliant! Thank you! Onions have gotten so expensive these days (along with everything else) that we want to buy bigger bags and store them...I have several hanging baskets for plants that I picked up at the dollar store...very well made for that we'll get some chains and put onions in them and hang them in my husband's shop. When that gets too warm this summer, we'll move them to the crawlspace. Bigger pain to get rid of, but it does stay cool down there...

    Simply, the refrigerator is dry and cold place. Depending of its volume you can store any of mentioned stuff without making it into growing phase.
    About onion sprouts - try them into salads. They taste better than anything you can buy into grocery store.

    My usual process for handling both potatoes and onions is simple. I buy one onion or maybe three potatoes, use half the onion in a recipe or eat one of the potatoes, put whatever is left in the bottom refrigerator drawer and forget it. About eighteen months later, I open the draw and find something slimy and smelly, and throw it out. Now I'm sure your method works well for keeping a bunch of onions for a few months, when you're buying in bulk and using them regularly. But how well does it work for someone who buys them singly, and uses them only once in a blue moon? Will that 18-month-old half-an-onion be less disgusting, if stored using your method?