Properly dried and cured onions last for many months when stored in a cool, dry location, but warm temperatures cause onions to sprout or prematurely rot. Some varieties decay or sprout quickly and are best used soon after harvest. Kitchen counters are usually warm and humid and cause onions to sprout rapidly. Store onions in a cool pantry instead.
Store onions for several weeks in a cool, dry location with temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. For longer storage, store onions in a basement or cellar where temperatures range between 32 and 40 F. Braid the tops together and hang onions or cut the tops off and store onions in a basket or crate. Allow air to circulate freely around the onions to prolong storage life.
The type of onion influences how long you can store it before it sprouts or rots. Yellow or white onions, such as Copra and Sweet Sandwich, store for many months. Sweet onions, such as Walla Walla and Sweet Spanish, last only a few weeks. Harvest green, immature onions as you need them. Brush off dirt from the roots and store green onions in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Use them within one week.
How onions are handled during harvesting also influences their storage life. Wait until the onion leaves have dried out and fallen over. Carefully dig up the bulbs in the morning, leaving the leaves intact. Take care not to damage the onions with a shovel. Brush off the dirt and lay the onions in a single layer on a screen. Set them in a sunny location and allow them to dry until afternoon. Remove the onions to a dry, warm shed or and allow them to cure for three weeks. Once the onion peels are dry, cut the stems 1 to 2 inches long.
If onions begin to sprout, use them as soon as possible. Cut off any minor mold or decay, but discard onions that are soft, yellowed or rotted throughout. If you can't use the sprouted onions quickly, preserve them in the freezer for later use. Cut sprouted onions, dice them and freeze them in small plastic bags for use in casseroles and cooked dishes.
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