Monday, August 12, 2013

How to Braid and Store Onions

This year's garden production has been absolutely outstanding and our crop of storage onions was no exception. Here's a quick tutorial on how to store your harvest to use for months to come.

We had onions in both a double box and a shorter box. This was taken in mid June,
 about a month prior to harvest. 

Before you go to the trouble of braiding your onions for long(er) term storage, make sure your onions are a variety that will store well. Some onions keep for up to a year, but others (think Vidalia and many other sweet onions) only last a few weeks. We grew Patterson yellow storage onions this year and with care, they should keep into next spring. You can start onions from seed, from sets, or with plants. Onions started from sets do not store as well as those grown from seed or plants, so keep that in mind as well.

You will know your onions are ready to be harvested when the tops start to flop over and go brown. As long as the weather is dry, we let them stay in the the garden for a few days beyond that and then bring them into our garage to dry out some more. 

A batch of onions newly harvested from our garden.

If you are not going to braid your onions, you might want to allow them to dry for up to three weeks. That lets the foliage dry out completely, preventing mold and letting you cut the leaves from the bulb with ease. Since we were braiding ours, we let them set for about 3 days or so, just enough to begin the drying process but not so long that the leaves would be too brittle to braid. 

The Process

Here's how to do it. It might take you a few tries to create a neat braid, but it really isn't too hard. Even sloppy braids will store well.  

Crisscross three onions together just like you were braiding hair. 

Tie the onions tightly together with a piece of twine. This string will become
 part of the braid, so make sure you cut it nice and long. 

Put the long end of the twine in with the center onion's leaves. 

Begin to braid, making sure to braid the twine along with the onion leaves.

Put another onion in the center, adding its leaves to the existing strand. 

Braid the onion in to secure it. 

Add two more onions, one on the left and one on the right. Make sure you line
up their leaves with the existing strands. You will always have three strands of leaves and
you just keep adding more onions and their leaves into the braid. Note the twine is still part of the braid.  

Keep on braiding. 

Keep adding onions and braiding until you have run out of onions. If you have lots of
onions, stop while your braid is still a manageable size/weight. Once you have added
your last onion, keep braiding the remaining leaves.

Double the leaf "handle" over.

Tie it securely using the end of the twine. 

Viola! Your braid is now ready to be hung up. When you want an onion, simply cut one from
the braid. Our first braid is on the left. You can see that it took us a
 little practice to make a nice, tight braid.  

The ideal storage conditions for onions are 32-40 degrees F and 65-70% humidity. I don't have any place like that available to me at the moment, so we simply hung them up to a rafter in our basement storage room. A root cellar would be ideal. If you keep the onions in a cool dark place, they will last up to a year.


Harvesting and Storing Onions  

Do you grow your own onions? How do you store your onions? 


  1. I love onions & cook with them all the time. We grow Copra onions and they easily last 12 months in storage.

    I braid my onions like you do and hang them in the stairwell to our basement. It's cool & dark there, but convenient since it's right off the kitchen.

  2. your still there, missing you

    1. Yep, I'm still here. I just am in a really busy season with my family. When I do have some free time, I seem to have writer's block.