Remember planting onions way back in April? Well, ours did GREAT. We’ve been harvesting them for a month and we’re only halfway finished. The brilliant thing about onions is that you can harvest and use them fresh, like this lunker…

Or you can “cure” them to store for future use. Curing means letting the outer layers of onion skin and the stem to dry out completely, which protects the onion from moisture and microorganisms and allows them to be stored in a cool, dark place for very long periods of time.

You should know that some varieties of onion last longer in storage than others. For instance, red onions are great keepers, while sweet onions, like Vidalias, don’t last as long because of their high sugar content. Use those up first.

Curing is as easy as harvesting your onions when their stems flop over and arranging them in a single layer in a well-ventilated, cool place out of the sun. Here we have some onions curing on a bread tray in our classroom.

 

How do you know when they are done curing and ready to store? The first sign is the stem is completely dry and brown. Not like this:

Like this:

If you’re still not sure, go ahead and trim that stem. Is the cut stem still a little wet and/or green, like this?

Then your onion isn’t cured – use it soon.

If the cut stem is dry and brown like so…

you’re all set.

Onions are so accommodating. You can harvest them and cure them yourself, which is useful if you need space in the garden or if a long period of rain is predicted. Or you can just leave them sitting in the ground and mother nature will cure them for you – it’s all the same to the onion!

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