Foodies and cooking hobbyists love green onions (or scallions, to use their other name) for their flavor and versatility in different recipes.
However, many people don’t know that they can preserve the onions frozen for later use. Yes, you can freeze onions much in the same way you do other green veggies and herbs such as coriander, parsley, and cilantro.
This leads us to the question: can you vacuum seal the bags containing the frozen fresh onions to ensure they stay fresher for longer in the freezer? This guide will provide a definitive answer to this and other related questions.
Freezing Store-bought Green Onions
Green onions are more perishable than their more bulbous cousins, such as red and sweet onions. It is, therefore, no surprise that many people often find themselves having to throw away a substantial portion of the scallions they bought at the grocery store.
If you are one of those, take time to learn how to prepare and to enjoy frozen onions, and you will never have to worry whether you put too much of the green vegetables in the produce bag.
Why Freeze Green Onions if You Have Them Growing in Your Backyard Garden?
If you have planted green onions in your backyard garden, it may sound counterintuitive to harvest and freeze them. Wouldn’t it be more sensible to harvest just the amount of raw onions you need at a time and prepare them when they are fresh off the garden? Not if you consider these factors:
You Should Harvest Scallions When They Have the Best Nutritional Value
Green onions may look to be evergreen, but they have growth cycles that correspond to annual seasons. If you live in a tropical or subtropical climate, green onions tend to pack up on nutrients in the summer months, experiencing a period of explosive growth in the autumn. In tropical climates, the corresponding season is the rainy season.
Therefore, you should harvest your scallions in the cooler autumn months or the rainy season before the harsh-weather months when they will be using up their nutritional reserves.
Harvesting Onions Regularly Ensures a Steady Supply to Last the Year
Taking advantage of the vibrant growth period to harvest your green onions and putting them in the freezer for later use ensures you have a steady supply of fresh onions to last year-round.
In this way, you will never lack inspiration for all your delicious recipes, irrespective of the season.
Thinning Off Scallions Guarantees a Better Crop
Harvesting off scallions also serves as a thinning method. It gives the remaining bulbs space to grow and thrive. However, when green onions grow thickly close to each other, competition for nutrients, water and sunlight mean the entire crop is poorer and does not offer the full nutritional benefits that a healthier crop would.
It Pays to Stock Up for a Big Occasion
If you have an upcoming occasion you will be doing a lot of cooking; it pays to prepare some ingredients in advance. Harvest (or buy) and store green onions in the freezer, ensuring you have a ready supply for all your delicious recipes on the big day.
Should I Freeze the Green Tops as Well as the Bulbs?
Which part of the green onions you should freeze depends on the kind of recipes you are likely to prepare and your preference. For example, some people find the green part of scallions more flavorful, while others would rather eat the bulbs alone.
It is worth noting that the greens are a lot more delicate than the bulbs. As a result, they tend to get a lot softer and lose some of their flavors after just a handful of defrosting and refreezing cycles.
Therefore, unless you intend to keep the onions in neat, single-use portions, you should consider freezing the tops and bulbs separately.
How to Prepare and Freeze Green Onions?
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to prepare your green onions safely before freezing. Whether your onions were grown in the backyard garden or bought from the grocery store, you do the same thing.
Sort and Wash
No matter how careful you are in harvesting your green onions, you are likely to pick up some weeds and other debris with them. Put the harvested pieces in a big bowl or basin and then pick one piece by one piece into the sink.
You should also wash and rinse your green onions before you chop them up for freezing. It is good to use a mix of cold water and vinegar for both washing and rinsing. Again, opinions vary as to the proportions which you should use.
The most aggressive suggest you use 3 parts water to every 1 part vinegar. Others recommend 10 measures of water for every measure of vinegar. The most ideal mix is certain to be between those extremes.
If you have recently sprayed your onions with insecticide, you should do a much more thorough job of cleaning them. The green tops should be washed and rinsed at least twice with plenty of water and vinegar. You can use a paper towel to drain off any excess water before chopping them. An ordinary tea towel can also be used in place of a paper towel.
Chop the Onions
Begin by cupping off and disposing of the parts that you will not be storing. These include the roots and any dead growth not suitable for putting in your food. If you want to freeze the onion bulbs and tops separately, separate them and chop each at a time.
Use a sizeable wooden chopping board to ensure that you are chopping the onions into small even pieces suitable for the refrigerator or freezer. Next, take a bunch of the onion bulbs or tops, line them on the chopping board and slice through the mass with clean cuts of a sharp knife.
Prepare the Chopped Onions for Freezing
You should not keep chopped green onions clumped up together as they are likely to stick together later and freeze into one soggy mess. Instead, prepare the chopped pieces for the freezer by spreading them on a flat dry surface (not a bowl or cup) overlaid with a paper towel or parchment paper layer.
Vacuum Sealing Your Chopped Onions
To ensure your onions stay fresh for an indefinite period of time, you should vacuum seal them in special freezer bags before transferring them to the freezer. If you do not have access to a vacuum sealer, lower the freezer bag carefully into cold water up to the brim.
You can use a rubber band to ensure water does not get inside the bag before you seal it. This will also serve to expel as much air from inside the bag as possible. Seal the bag and place the contents in the freezer as soon as you are done.
Some people have issues using a vacuum sealer to close up a bag of onion slices. This is because the vacuum sealer tends to suck out liquid from the contents, making it impossible to seal the open end.
You can prevent this from happening by ensuring the onions are completely dry before transferring them into the plastic bag. Also, a leaking vacuum sealed bag will not ensure your frozen green onion stash stays fresh.
Alternatives to Vacuum Sealing
Here are some alternative solutions for those who cannot use vacuum seal bags:
A Ziploc bag does not have the same capacity to keep your green onion slices as fresh as a vacuum seal bag. But it is good for when you need to take a small amount of the frozen onions and refreeze the remainder.
Using an empty (and dry) water bottle to put your frozen green onions is very handy. Ensure you fill the bottle to the top before screwing on the cap.
Using a water bottle works well when you want onions that will be used at a go rather than in piecemeal fashion once defrosted.
How Long Will Green Onions Last in the Refrigerator?
If you do not have a freezer, you can still store your green onions in your refrigerator. Frozen raw onions will last at least a year in a freezer. They will retain their freshness and taste for no more than a week in the fridge. Even then, you should only store them in shallow, airtight containers.
Defrosting Frozen Green Onions
If you did not freeze your onions into single cooking portions, you will need to keep defrosting and refreezing them every time you need something cooked.
Defrosted green onions tend to have a less crispy texture compared to fresh green onions straight from the garden or the grocers. It is, therefore, better to use them in food items that require a goodly amount of cooking.
This, therefore, means dishes such as soups, fried rice, pasta, and fried meat. Conversely, avoid using them with food items that require little or no cooking, such as salads and fresh vegetable side dishes.
Whether you love green onions for cooking your soups, fried dishes, or just as an ingredient to your salads, having a ready supply of the chopped-up veggies is a time saver.
Freezing green onions works whether you bought them at the grocery shop or you grew them in your backyard. Whichever process you prefer to freeze and thaw your green onions, our tips and guides are here to help you cook and eat food that is delicious and healthy.