During busy times, convenience is king. That is why even grocery stores have started selling chopped onions in the frozen foods section to make cooking preparation a little easier for consumers.
Why not save yourself a little money and do it yourself?
Or, maybe you have already chopped more onions than you need and are wondering if you can preserve onions in the freezer. Yes, you can! Freezing onions is a great way to prolong their shelf life, save on food waste, save time, and money.
Here is your guide to freezing onions successfully.
Types of Onions
Large onions generally come in 3 varieties namely brown onions, red or purple onions, and white onions.
Brown onions are sweeter than other types and turn a rich brown color when caramelized, making them perfect for use in French onion soup.
Red onions are known not only for their purple layers of skin but also for their sharp flavor. They are often used raw in salads, grilled, and popular in Asian cooking.
White onions are milder with a golden color when cooked and sweet flavor when sauteed.
Although generally cooked, onions can be used in a multitude of different ways. They can be added raw to salads and salsa’s, pickled, crumbed and deep-fried, roasted, sliced, and added to stir-fries, curry, omelets, casseroles, pie fillings, quiche, soups, and stews.
Onions can be featured as the star ingredient of a dish in the form of a caramelized onion tart, soup, and stuffed.
Can Onions Be Frozen?
Yes, you can freeze onions. Whether it’s for easy meal prep or to prolong their shelf life, you can use frozen onions in many ways. It is, however, important to note that frozen onions will not be as crisp or firm as fresh onions.
Ice crystals form during the freezing process which damages the cell walls. This results in a loss of moisture and crispness once the onions defrost making them suitable for use in cooked dishes only.
Due to their strong flavor and odor, improperly packaged sliced onions will easily permeate their flavor into surrounding food items. Therefore, it is essential to pack and seal the onions in freezer-friendly airtight packaging before placing them in the freezer, or fridge for that matter.
How To Freeze Onions
When freezing onions, there are two methods you can use. The best way to freeze onions will depend on what you are using them for. Follow steps 1 and 5 for both options.
Make sure you only use fully mature onions that are in good shape.
Step 1: Peel
Completely peel away the outer wispy layer of skin. Place the onions on a cutting board and cut off the top papery root end and stalk end of the fresh onions.
Option 1: Sliced
Step 2: Slice
With a sharp knife, cut onions in the way you need to use them in your cooked dishes. If you use a food processor to dice onions, only pulse a few times as dicing the onion too small will result in a mushy texture once thawed.
Step 3: Pack
Portion the onion pieces into the quantity you may need to use at any given time. If you use large portions, for example in an onion soup, place it directly into a heavy-duty freezer-friendly zip lock bag.
If you use smaller amounts at a time, place each portion onto a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper, wrap it up, and then place the wrapped portions together into a resealable freezer bag.
The chopped onions will freeze together in a clump. It is thus better to divide them before freezing, so you can easily remove only the amount required without having to thaw the entire batch.
Step 4: Seal
To prevent the strong onion odor and flavor from permeating your freezer, press any remaining air out of the bag and seal well.
It is important to use good quality freezer bags that lock in the odor and keep air out to prevent freezer burn. Make sure the outside of the freezer bag is clean with no onion liquid or juices left from handling the bag.
Option 2: Puree
Step 2: Blend
Start by roughly chopping onions into chunks and placing them into a blender. Blend until very fine, or until you have a rough puree.
Step 3: Freeze
Scoop the onion puree into silicone ice cube trays and place it into the freezer until the onion cubes are frozen solid. The onion flavor may remain in the tray even after the cubes have been removed, so you will want to keep a special ice cube tray specifically for this purpose.
Step 4: Pack
Once frozen, remove the onion cubes from the tray and pack them into a zip lock sandwich bags. Press out as much air as possible before sealing.
Step 5: Label and Freeze
Using a permanent marker write the date on the freezer bag to keep track of the storage time. Place the onion slices or cubes in the freezer.
How To Thaw Frozen Onions
Onions can be added straight from frozen to the pot or pan you are using to cook them in. Onion cubes are great to add as is to casseroles, ground meat mixtures, sauces, and stews and will thaw during the cooking process.
If you are adding the sliced onions to a baked dish such as a quiche or savory muffins, thaw them in the refrigerator or place the freezer bag in a cold water-bath for a few minutes. They will defrost pretty quickly.
Just in case you run out of onions, there are many onion substitutes you can use.
These simple steps to freeze onions are a great time saver and make meal prep a breeze.
A fantastic addition to soups, stews, sauces, omelet, hash, quiche, ground beef, and stir-fry, onions can be added to almost any savory dish to bring a wonderful flavor.
When freezing raw onions, make sure they are well sealed in airtight freezer bags so that surrounding foods do not pick up the odor and flavor of the onion. This can be unpleasant especially when you have milk or baked goods nearby.
No more tears while chopping and cooking. Simply pull your ready-chopped onions out of the freezer, and you’re ready to cook dinner without a mess.
We’ve got more easy tips on home food preservation! Also learn how to freeze green onions and garlic.