Homegrown onions tell you when to harvest them

Learn to read your home grown onions – they will tell you when to harvest them.

You need to know how to read your homegrown onions in order to properly harvest them.

When half of the tops of onions start to dry out and fall over on the soil they are ready to harvest. If you have a spading fork, use it to loosen the soil around and under the bulbs. Then it’s easy to pull them by hand. In dry weather, leave them in the garden for a few hours so the wind and sun can dry them. If the weather is damp and threatening or the soil is wet, remove them immediately to a garage, carport or other dry, well-ventilated area and spread them out to dry for several days. When all the tops are dry and brown, the onions are ready for storage.

Onions that have thick necks still contain green, moist tissue and will not keep in storage. Keep these onions separate and use them first. If you put them into storage with the rest, they will rot and may ruin the others.

Only store undamaged bulbs. Use onions with nicks or soft spots at once, or chop and freeze them, after you have cut away the nicks or soft spots. Damaged bulbs will rot and cause problems in storage.

If you plan to store your onions, cure them properly, which means the onions must be placed in a warm, ventilated area until the necks are completely dry and then provide adequate storage conditions.

It is best to store onions in slatted baskets or boxes or mesh bags. Store them in a dark, dry, cool place where they won’t freeze. Inspect them occasionally and discard any soft, moldy or rotten ones as soon as you find them. You should still be enjoying onions from your garden when it’s time to plant next year’s crop.

Here are some food preparation tips for onions, homegrown or store bought.

  • To reduce eye tearing when peeling onions, cut off the top, peel off the outer layers and leave the root end intact. The root end has the largest concentrations of sulphuric compounds, which make your eyes tear.
  • When slicing onions if you chill them first for 30 minutes it will also help reduce your eyes from tearing.
  • High heat makes onions bitter. When sautéing, always use low or medium heat.
  • To make onions milder, soak in milk or pour boiling water over slices. Let stand for 30-40 minutes, then refresh in an ice water bath.

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