During busy times, convenience is king, and that is why even grocery stores have started selling chopped and frozen onions 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 freeze them. Yes, you can! Freezing onions is a great way to prolong their shelf life, save you time, food waste, 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-fry, curry, omelets, casseroles, pie fillings, quiche, stew, and even turned into marmalade.
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. Onions can be frozen for both convenience and to prolong their shelf life, although it is necessary to note that their texture will change once thawed.
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
Choose from the 2 freezing preparation methods below depending on what you are using the onions for. Follow steps 1 and 5 for both options.
Step 1: Peel
Completely peel away the outer wispy layer of onion skin and cut off the top papery end of the onion.
Option 1: Sliced
Step 2: Slice
Slice or dice the onion as you will need to use it in your cooked dishes. If you use a food processor to dice the onion, 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 rings or cubes 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 cling film or wax paper, wrap it up, and then place the wrapped portions together into a resealable freezer bag.
The onion pieces will freeze together in a clump, so it is 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. 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
Cut the onions in halves or quarters and throw them into a blender. Blend until very fine, or until you have a rough puree.
Step 3: Freeze
Scoop the onion puree into a silicone ice cube tray and place it into the freezer until the onion cubes are completely frozen. 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 freezer-friendly zip lock bag. Press out any air 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, 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 onion, there are many onion substitutes you can use.
A fantastic addition to soups, stews, sauces, omelet, hash, quiche, 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 an airtight freezer bag 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 go without a mess.