Storing Onions in Refrigerator: Is it Safe? (For How Long?)

Two months ago, when I was traveling to Toronto for 2 weeks, I wasn’t concerned about any food items as much as onions. I brought them at a discount from Costco and didn’t want the offer to come back to bite me. So, I was wondering whether it’s safe to store onions in the refrigerator, does that increases the shelf life of onions, should I store them after washing.

I had lots of questions about my onions & so, searched the whole internet to find the best information & tips to implement. This article is basically a summary of what really works to store onions properly.

Can you store onions in the refrigerator? As a general rule, it is not recommended to keep your market-brought onions in the refrigerator. These onions should be kept in a dry place at room temperature and not in the refrigerator because it can increase moisture and promote rotting in onions. However, you can store chopped, peeled mashed onions in the refrigerator to increase their shelf life. 

Refrigerators can actually help in keeping onions in their fresh condition. And, in this article, we’ll see exactly where a refrigerator can help you in keeping your onions safe while what are the situations when you should totally avoid storing onions and some other food in the refrigerator. Read on!

onion refrigerator

Should You Keep Onions in the refrigerator?

You should not store unpeeled onions in the refrigerator. Onions contain starch in them when they are refrigerated, the starch in presence of cold humid temperature converts into sugar and makes them soggy, and speeds up the rotting process.  Furthermore, onions can skunk up your refrigerator and make everything smell like onions.

However, you can store green onions, scallions, and peeled or cut onions in the refrigerator.

For your better understanding let us know the benefits/ risks of storing onions in the refrigerator.

When to Store Onions in The Refrigerator?

  • Though onions should only be cut when required since on-cutting juices are released which promote bacterial growth. But sometimes it may happen we cut onion and realize we might need to store them for some time. Storing peeled onion in the refrigerator will restrict this unwanted bacterial growth.
  • If you’ve cut or mashed onions to use later in your cooking then also storing them in the refrigerator will help save its fresh taste and texture. Just make sure t put a lid on it so that it won’t spread its smell all over your fridge.

Risks of Storing Onions in The Refrigerator

  • When you keep the onions in the refrigerator, they are exposed to a chilly and damp atmosphere. They may get mushy and deteriorate more quickly due to their proclivity for absorbing moisture.
  • Onions have the capacity to absorb moisture from nearby veggies, storing them with potatoes or high water content veggies will spoil both of them.
  • They can leave an odor on other eatables in your fridge such as veggies, cheese, milk, herbs, etc. which can be problematic if onions’ flavor is not intended.

How long do onions last in the refrigerator? 

  • Peeled onions last for two weeks days in the refrigerator.
  • Sliced/chopped onions for about a week to 10 days.
  • Cooked-up onions can be stored for 3-4 days in your refrigerator and up to 3 months in your deep freezer.
  • An opened can of onion pickle variety be kept in the refrigerator for about 4-5 months.
  • Canned pickles can last up to 3-5 years but they should be sealed.
  • Pickled onions in vinegar will last 2 to 3 weeks on the counter and in the refrigerator, for 1 to 2 months.

Note- To avoid the smell and rotting freeze them in a ziplock bag or an airtight container to extend their shelf life.

How to properly store your onions? 

According to USDA, onions should be stored at 45 to 50ºF, but if you can’t find a cool place, keeping them at room temperature also works fine. It is because keeping in cold temperature converts the starch in sugar which speeds up the decomposition process and thus fast rotting.

Just remember not to store onions in a humid place and do not ziplock them. They need air to breathe, and moisture speeds up the rotting and decomposition.

Precaution to take while storing onions

Another important precaution to take, many of us store onions with potatoes. Many types of research recommend against this practice. Onions and potatoes are sensitive to ethylene gas and should be kept apart for moisture concerns and thus speeding up the deterioration process.

It’s best to keep them apart in a place that gets enough air, is dry, and is at a comfortable temperature.

Storing peeled or diced onions in the refrigerator

Peeled onions can last in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks, while diced or sliced onions will only last for 7–10 days. To keep peeled/ diced onions cold and dry, wrap each onion in a paper towel or a sealed container in your refrigerator.

Storing shallots in the refrigerator

Keep shallots adequately ventilated in the refrigerator, store them in a mesh bag. Shallots can be kept in this manner for about 30 days. To make shallots last for about five-six months, peel the skin off the shallots and remove the cloves before freezing. Then, in a resealable bag or airtight container, put the peeled shallots in the freezer.

Storing Vinegar onions in the refrigerator

The edible vinegar used in onions serves as a preservative, keeping it fresh at all times. They’ll last longer and won’t go bad fast. Pickles that are prepared with vinegar survive longer than those made with salt and water.

Soring pickled onions in the refrigerator

If you keep pickled vinegar onions correctly in the ideal circumstances in the freezer, they will survive for 2 to 3 years before turning foul in taste.

Soring onion powder in the refrigerator

Commercially packed onion powder does not go bad, but it may harden in the refrigerator. Store onion powder in a cool, dark cabinet away from direct heat or sunlight to extend its shelf life. Onion powder can keep its optimum quality for 3 to 4 years if kept properly.

How to tell if onions are rotted?

The primary sign to identify rotted onion is the very strong stingy smell and another is the onion’s layers start softening and become mushy.

Some may even develop black patches, which will eventually sprout mold. One must avoid using onions showing sprouts, as this signals that they are about to spoil.

onions rot in refrigerator

Food Items to NEVER Store in The Refrigerator

Honey

In freezing temperatures, honey is known to seize and crystallize. The best temperature for this sweetener is room temperature.

Banana

Bananas require room temperature for two reasons: moderate temperatures aid in the ripening of the fruit (in case you pick up any still-green parts), and light and air inhibit decomposition.

Garlic

Refrigeration will degrade them, and the additional moisture may cause them to mold, the same as what happens with onion. They become soft in the refrigerator.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers should be removed from the refrigerator. When cucumbers are kept in the refrigerator, they get watery and pitted.

Potatoes

Potato starch is converted to sugar when it is exposed to cold temperatures. This makes the texture gritty, and the flavor slightly sweet.

Conclusion

Onions are one of your kitchen’s most ingenious ingredients, from pasta, pizza to our favorite chicken recipe it leaves their presence everywhere. Each one comes own set of cooking applications and proper storage is key for onions to survive and give the perfect taste.

It’s ideal to keep regular onions in a cold, dry, dark, and well-ventilated area. The pantry, basement, or even your garage are all good options.

Summing up how to store your onions, peeled onions may be stored for about 14 days in the refrigerator, sliced/ chopped onions can be kept for weekdays. Sautéed onions can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-5 days or can be frozen for about 3 months.

Quick Tip – Freeze them in a resealable bag or an airtight container to extend their shelf life.

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Disha Verma
Disha Verma is a Mass Media student from International School of Business & Media (ISBM). She lives in Maharastra, India and loves to write articles about Internet & Social Media. When she is not writing, you can find her hanging out with friends in the coffee shop downstreet or reading novels in the society park.