Onions require preservation to last for a long time without rotting or sprouting. Of course, preserving onions can happen in many ways, including drying and freezing. If you have no time to dry or have run out of freezer space, canning is the best food preservation method for onions.
The problem is that most people have no idea how to can onions. This article puts together several canning methods to preserve onions for a long time. Keep reading for actionable tips you can implement at home.
Canning Small Onions
The National Center for Food Preservation (NCFP) and agricultural extensions recommend one canning recipe to help you preserve your onions. Unfortunately, despite the numerous resources available to the agency, it cannot test all possible methods for canning onions.
An effective formula to can small onions whole, with a 1-inch diameter, underwent stringent testing from Clemson College’s cooperative extension. The extension service based their recommendation on the fact that onions have 5.3 to 5.85 ph, making them low-acid foods.
They recommended the pressure-canning of onions to keep them safe for human consumption. The following is how to can small onions of diameter at most 1 inch.
Step 1: Wash and peel the onions, remove the dry outer skin, and remove the root ends.
Step 2: Put the onions in a pot and cover them with boiling water. At medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and wait for five minutes.
Step 3: Pack onions in several hot jars and leave a 1-inch headspace to allow for the later filling with hot water.
Step 4: Add one teaspoon salt to a pint or half-teaspoon to quarts, depending on what you desire.
Step 5: Using boiling water, fill jars to leave 1 inch to the top. The water should cover the onions fully.
Step 6: Get rid of air bubbles and leave a 1-inch headspace. Use a dry cloth to wipe the jar rims, adjust lids, and tune it to fingertip tight.
Step 7: A good pressure canner can help you to process pints and quarts for up to 40 minutes. Apply pressure depending on your location’s latitude. For example, if you live at 2000 feet above sea level, use 11 pounds of pressure to process jars of onions using the dial-gauge canner. For an altitude of between 0 and 1,000-feet, process jars using a weighted gauge canner at a pressure of 10 pounds pressure. If over one thousand feet, use the weighted gauge canner at a pressure of 15 pounds.
Canning Medium-Sized Onions
Your onions are possibly bigger and require a little more processing before canning. If you have just come from the onions store with medium-sized bulbs, all you need is some salt and a pressure canner. The following is a tested recipe to help you easily can onions:
Step 1: Prepare the Jars
Before canning onions, prepare the glass jars where you’ll store them. the preparation involved boiling the glass jars and their lids to keep them hot.
Step 2: Washing and Peeling Onions
Wash the onions and remove the dry skin covers. Since you have mid-sized onions, cut them into half-inch thick chunks. That makes it possible to keep substantially many onions on one glass jar.
Step 3: Boil the Onions
Place the peeled and chopped onions into a pot and cover with boiling water. Continue heating until you bring to a boil at medium-high heat. Wait for five minutes or for the onions to gain a translucent color.
Step 4: Pack Onions into the Jars
Once the onions assume a translucent color, remove them from the pot and place them inside the hot jars. Use a spoon or spatula to prevent contamination.
Step 5: Add Salt and Cooking Liquid
Add 1 teaspoon salt to jars measured in quarts or half teaspoon salt to jars measured in pints. The helps kill bacteria, preserving the onions.
Pour the warm cooking liquid onto the onions, covering them and leaving a headspace of 1 inch in all the jars.
Step 6: Remove Air and Sealing the Jars
Get rid of any air bubbles that might have built inside the jar by stirring with a spoon. Where necessary, add more water blanch to the hot jars leaving a 1-inch space at the head.
Wipe jar rims using a dry cloth and seal them properly. After that, you can process jars using a pressure canner.
Step 7: Pressure Canning
With a 10-pound pressure, the processing time should be around 40 minutes. Wait until the pressure returns to zero before opening the pressure canner’s lid.
Test seals for any jars that aren’t properly sealed. Isolate and store in a fridge for consumption within two weeks.
Why You Should Can Onions?
Those who like eating fresh onions might be wondering why canning is necessary. The thing with canned onions is that you can use them straight from the can as condiments, in sauces, or burgers.
Besides, preserving onions through canning makes it possible for you to store them for six or seven months.
Since onions are low-acid foods, preserving them requires processing with a pressure canner to destroy the harmful botulism bacteria.
Consuming this bacterium can result in severe consequences. Even if you boiled the onions straight from the can, you cannot destroy the bacteria. That’s why you should preserve your onions at high pressure.
Additional Tips on Preserving and Storing Onions
While canning is important, it isn’t the only way to preserve onions for later use. If you have no pressure canner at home, you should look for an alternative way to keep your onions fresh.
Here are some tips to help you:
1. Choosing Onions
Like other vegetables, choosing the right onions can make the difference between early expiry and longevity.
Always pick dry onions with papery skin free from spots or moisture. Avoid onions showing signs of sprouting.
2. Keep in a Cool Dry Place
Once you return from the onions store, keep the bulbs in a cool, dry place. An onion that’s kept in a wet place will likely absorb moisture and turn mushy, rot, and sprout. So, the storage place should be dry, dark, cool, and well-ventilated.
However, that doesn’t give you the freedom to freeze onions. Frozen onions get exposed to too excessive cold and humidity, making it unnecessary to freeze them whole. If you must keep onions in a freezer, then peel and slice them before putting them in an airtight container.
4. Preserving Cooked Onions
You can preserve cooked onions in the fridge inside an airtight container. However, leaving them exposed can attract the growth of bacteria, which could lead to food poisoning. A better way is to freeze cooked onions to give them a three-month shelf life.
5. Making Dried Onions
Drying onions can preserve and give them a delicious crunchy taste. You can put chopped onions in a normal oven to dry them. That essentially means you don’t need a dehydrator.
How to Use Home-Canned Onions?
Canned onions are good for use in our recipes anytime you want, so long as they aren’t past their expiry period. Carefully open the jar to remove canned onions.
If you want to use them in a stew, you can ensure you accompany the onions with the water blanch.
Once you have opened the can, you can pour the onions and the water blanch into a pot, heat, and add to the gravy.
Canned onions are also great accompaniments to a burger, creating a memorable taste. Alternatively, you can eat them as a condiment.