How To Use All Of Those Homegrown Onions
Are you growing onions in your veggie garden this year? Did you plant a lot of them? Did you order one of our onion sets with 100 starter bulbs? Then you need inspiration for what to do with them! We found some tasty recipes as well as some growing, harvesting, and storing tips for you.
What to Do with All Those Onions
Aside from the obvious ways to use onions (fresh condiment, in soups, stews, and casseroles), you’ll love experimenting with additional ways to use up all of your onions.
- Tomato Pasta Sauce: This one’s a keeper because it also uses up all of your homegrown tomatoes and stores for months if you can it properly.
- Salsa: Can’t go wrong with classic chips and salsa, but fresh is always better. Whip up your own using tomatoes, onions, and cilantro (all can be grown in your garden) plus spices and garlic. Taco Tuesday never looked so good!
- Jam: The ultimate sweet and tart condiment that amps up meats, poultry, and salmon.
- Aioli: Aioli is just a fancy mayonnaise mixture and it starts with caramelizing your onions. There is nothing to not like about this. Nothing.
- Pickled Onion Slaw: Then after you’ve enjoyed your higher calorie Mexican food dishes with all the homemade salsas, you can use your onions in a healthy pickled slaw.
- Leave Them For Your Neighbors. Just like with tomatoes and zucchini, if you find yourself up to your eyeballs in onions, send out a “come and get it” neighborhood email and let people help themselves to bags of onions by your front door. It’ll endear you to the hood, and that’s always important.
How to Grow Onions
- Plant at the time recommended for your geographic area. Gardeners in cooler climates (Zones 1-5) should plant as soon as the ground is workable (usually April to mid-May). Warmer climates can, in theory, plant onions year-round but be aware that extreme heat can compromise your onion crop. The best rule of thumb is to plant when your county extension office recommends planting for your area.
- Choose a sunny location with fertile, well-drained soil.
- Plant onion sets. Plant them 4-5” apart in rows 12-18” apart and no deeper than 1” below the soil.
- Keep onions weed-and-pest-free. Don’t make your onions compete with surrounding weeds for the nutrients they need to develop — keep your garden tidy and weeded.
- Harvest onions. They’re ready to be harvested at about 3-4 months, but keep reading for more tips.
How Do I Harvest Them? And What About Storing?
Let your onions bulbs grow and mature; they are ready to harvest when the bulbs are large and the top growth turns yellow and starts to flop over. Now here’s how to harvest and store them:
- Pull up your onions and shake off the soil. You’ll see roots, the onion itself, and top growth.
- Lay them out to cure (don’t take those tops off!) in a warm and airy place to stay dry as they “cure.”
- Let them cure for about 7-10 days so the roots shrivel up and necks right above the bulb are dry. This is important to keep the onion from rotting.
- Using pruners, clip off the roots and the dried tops. Leave the outer “skin” in place.
- Store in a cool, dry place for up to 8 months (35-55 degrees with 50-60% relative humidity).
- You can also can, pickle, freeze, or dry onions. Look up your favorite recipe/directions and have fun experimenting!
Tip: Pickling, canning, freezing, and drying onions will change their texture and will impact how you use them. Be aware of this when you’re planning all of your onion recipes if you are not using fresh onions.
- Jenny Peterson