How to Tell if Green Onions Are Bad?


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Green onions are a popular and versatile vegetable that does not develop a bulbous root. These leafy herbs are widely used in cuisines all over the globe.

When used fresh, green onions add a crisp and savory flavor to everything they are added in. For this reason, green onions are one of the most common items on our weekly grocery list.

How Long Before Green Onions Go Bad?

Green onions are relatively finicky vegetables. Unlike regular onions, which stay fresh for months at room temperature, scallions require to be stored in the fridge. Failing to store green onions the right way causes them to wilt and turn into a dark green, slimy mass that you have to discard.

Green onions that are about to go bad bring a bad texture and foul odor to your dish. So it is essential to know how to tell if a green onion has gone bad.

This article will take you through what causes green onions to go bad, how to tell if your onions have gone bad and how to store them to improve their shelf life properly.

Why Do Green Onions Go Bad?

What you do after buying a bunch of raw green onions from the grocery store dictates how long they will remain fresh. If you simply toss them into the fridge with no water or cover, the chances are high that your green onions will go bad after a few days.

Unlike ordinary root vegetables and onions, green onions are more like leafy greens and herbs. This makes their storage conditions slightly different.

Like other fresh produce, green onions need a cool, dry, and dark place with appropriate temperatures to stay fresh for longer.

When stored properly in the freezer, green onions remain fresh for up to one year or even longer. However, green onions can last more than a couple of days when stored in the refrigerator.

Otherwise, storing green onions at room temperature or in the wrong storage conditions causes them to lose their crispy freshness and flavor sooner.

How to Tell if Your Green Onion Is Bad?

Rotting green onions can dampen the taste of your food. Fortunately, there are a few things you can look out for to tell if your scallions have gone bad.

Inspect Your Green Onions

The first way to tell if your scallions have gone bad is by inspecting their appearance. Fresh green onions should have firm leaves. Avoid scallions with leaves that are dropping down or look wilted, as this is a sign that they’ve gone bad. Likewise, if the green leaves start to turn dark, brown, or black, this is also a sign that the green onions have gone bad.

Check Expiry Date

There is no sell-by date or expiration date for green onions like other fresh vegetables. To determine how old the scallions are, you need to use the purchase dates. The actual shelf life of green onions varies based on the type of onion, how it is stored, and whether it is whole or cut. Also, when buying green onions, choose those that still have their bright green colors. The stems should be firm, undamaged, and healthy-looking.

Look Out for Mold

While dark or brown spots on scallions are a sign of fungus from the soil, when there are repetitive spots on multiple outer layers of the leafy strand, this could be a sign that your scallions are going bad. Mold usually appears as thin white hairs on the cut edge of sliced green onions.


As their name suggests, green onions have a signature greenish, verdant color. So if your scallions suddenly change color and start to turn yellowish or brownish, then they might be going bad.

Rotten/foul Smell

Other than checking the expiry dates and inspecting the scallions, you should also smell the onions to determine whether or not they are fresh. Fresh scallions emit an oniony smell, while bad onions emit a rotten or foul odor.

Dark Onion Juice

This is another effective method of identifying the freshness of your onions. Even if the outer leaves look crispy and fresh, you should chop the onions to check the color of their juice. If the juice is cloudy and you can spot some yellowing, this is a sure sign that the scallion has gone bad.


You can also check their freshness by tasting the onions after chopping them. If the onions have a stingy taste, this is a sign that they have gone bad.

Soft or Squishy

Fresh green onions are firm and smooth. If your scallions feel soft, squishy, or slimy, the onion is beginning to go bad.

Other signs that your green onion is going bad include:

  • Dry flesh
  • Soft spots
  • Sprouting

Overall, the methods stated above can help you tell if your green onions have gone bad. Most times, you won’t even have to smell or taste the onions as it is relatively easy to tell if the onions have gone bad just by their appearance.

Do not cook green onions in case of any signs of mold, spoilage, or wilting leaves. Instead, discard the spoiled vegetables and get a fresher bunch.

How to Store Green Onions, So They Don’t Go Bad Fast?

If you’ve been struggling with your green onions going bad frequently, this means you are not following the right storage methods.

So what can you do to make your green onions remain crispy and tasty longer? Here are a few ways to store your green onions.

Refrigerate Them

Storing green onions at room temperature puts them at risk of drying out faster. So instead, store them in the fridge’s crisper drawer to preserve their freshness. To refrigerate:

  • Take a glass or jar and pour in some water. The level of water should be about 2-5 centimeters high. The water should be cold or at room temperature.
  • Put a bunch of scallions into the glass jar and immerse its roots into the water. This way, the roots will be able to take water and remain fresh longer. Don’t worry, even if the roots were off, don’t worry, as this vegetable will grow new ones a few days after putting them in water.
  • Finally, take a small plastic bag and put it over the green leaves. This will help in maintaining the proper levels of humidity needed to keep the green fresh. It also supports proper air ventilation and prevents excess moisture so your green onions will not wither soon.

Tie the plastic bag loosely to the top of the glass to allow air to access the greens and ventilate easily. Your green onions should stay fresh for up to two weeks.

Keep on Growing Fresh Green Onions

To keep your green onions ever fresh, put them in a glass or jar with water or in a pot with some soil and place them on the windowsill.

  • If you choose to grow them in water, take a high and stable glass or jar. Put two to five centimeters of cold water in it and submerge the roots of your scallions.
  • If you opt to pot them in soil, take a flowerpot that is about 15cm deep. Add some soil and put the onions in it. Lightly press on the soil to help the scallions stand up themselves. If you are planting multiple stems, make sure to put them 5cm apart from each other in the pot. Place your pot on a windowsill in an area that receives plenty of sunlight to grow the plants.

Also, remember to water your onions or change out the water every few days to keep it fresh for longer.

Use a Damp Wrap

Another way of preventing your green onions from going bad is to wrap them in a damp paper towel.

  • To start, wash green onions and pat them dry.
  • Take off any dry covers from the onions if there are any.
  • Wrap the scallions with a damp paper towel.
  • Put the wrapped scallions in plastic bags, a zip-lock bag, or an airtight container.
  • Loosely tie the bag to allow air to come in.
  • Put the scallions in the refrigerator.

Freeze Them

To freeze green onions properly, wash them to remove any dirt and dry leaves. Then, Pat them dry with a paper towel, so no water or moisture is left on the tops and roots of the scallions.

You can chop green onions before or leave them whole, depending on how you intend to use them. Then, put the onions into an airtight plastic bag and toss them in the freezer. Just like that, your green onions should remain fresh for about a year.

Vase Them

One of the most common ways to store green onions is by standing them in a vase in an inch of water, just like flowers. Then, loosely cover the tops with a plastic or zip-lock bag. Finally, pop the whole contraption into the fridge, making sure to change the water every 3 to 5 days.

Tip: remove any rubber band that is likely being used to keep the bunch together. Also, do not wrap a rubber band around the plastic bag. Doing so will trap in moisture, causing your scallions to wilt more quickly.

Soak Roots in Water

If your green onions start to wilt and lose that crisp texture, shock them back to life by soaking the root ends in cold water for about an hour.

Spring onion FAQs

Is Spring Onion the Same as Green Onions?

No. Spring onions are young onion plants that haven’t developed a bulb. On the other hand, green onions have roots and do not develop a bulb even in maturity.

How Long Do Green Onions Last in the Fridge?

When stored properly, green onions can last for up to two weeks in the freezer storage; your green garlic can last for one to two weeks.

How Long Do Green Onions Last in the Freezer?

When stored in the freezer, green onions can last for up to twelve months.


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