Can onions be safely stored in the refrigerator after peeling?

Written by louise harding
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Can onions be safely stored in the refrigerator after peeling?
Peeled onions may be refrigerated for up to a week. (onions image by Maria Brzostowska from

Onions are versatile vegetables that are prominent ingredients in the cuisine of many cultures. No matter how you prepare or eat them, onions are good for you. The Cornell University Chronicle Online reports that onions are laden with anti-cancer properties. Long-lasting and easy to store, keep these healthy vegetables on hand in the pantry or refrigerator.

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Onions Defined

Onions are grown throughout most of North America. The onion family consists of yellow, red and white onions, chives, garlic, leeks, shallots and scallions. Scallions are also called green, spring or salad onions. Onions are sold dried and minced, dried and chopped, in bags or boxes, individually or in bulk orders. Onions are baked, fried, dehydrated, minced, sliced, diced, caramelised, candied, boiled, broiled, creamed, pickled and steamed and, of course, can be eaten raw. The National Onion Association recommends examining onions for dry, healthy skins without bruises, black or white spots or other blemishes. The association warns against purchasing onion bulbs that have started to sprout with green shoots emerging from the onion bulb.

Storage With Peels Intact

Dry onions with healthy peels intact can be stored in a number of ways. Braid the long, dried tops together and hang in a cool, dry place. Place onions in plastic mesh bags and hang on hooks or pegs in cool, dry places. Onions should be stored in temperatures ranging from 10 to 15.6 degrees Celsius. With proper storage, it is not unusual for onions to stay fresh for months. Stored onions should be inspected about every month to remove any potential problem onions featuring soft spots, blemishes, moulds, rot or other spots. Storage in sealed, plastic bags is not recommended. Onions need good air circulation to avoid rotting. The National Onion Association reports that spring or summer onions can also be stored in the refrigerator.

Storage After Peeling

Store spring onions (scallions) by removing the outer skin and cutting away roots. Place spring onions in the refrigerator in a perforated or unsealed plastic storage bag. Don't seal the bag as this will seal in moisture and encourage mould growth. The National Onion Association maintains that peeled, sliced or chopped onions can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week. Store peeled, sliced or chopped onions in glass canning jars with a tightly sealed lid to eliminate odours from the refrigerator. Many other foods absorb onion odours that ruin the taste of those foods. Glass canning jars contain odours better than plastic bags.


Onions irritate the eyes when cut and peeled because of the presence of a sulphur compound known as propanethial-S-oxide. When this compound is exposed to oxygen or water, it transforms into sulphuric acid and irritates your eyes. Refrigerate onions before cutting to reduce the release of these eye irritants. The National Onion Association maintains that onions can be frozen successfully. Wash the onions thoroughly. Peel and dice, mince or chop the onions according to preference. Place the prepared onions in plastic or glass freezer containers and freeze. Use frozen onions within six months.

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