How To Braid Onions

If you are going to keep onions over the winter (and into the spring and possibly summer), you’re going to want to make sure they are getting plenty of air, as air circulation is key to their preservation.  There’s nothing worse than putting all your onions up for the year in a box or bucket and finding later that there was one that went bad and now you have to toss them all (or most) out.

I’ve seen different ways people put their onions up, including 5 gallon buckets with holes drilled in them, wood boxes with plenty of gaps in the sides, etc.  But in my experience, braiding my onions and hanging them up in a cool, dark place (my root cellar) is the best place for them.  I make sure to check each string a couple times a month for any rotting.  I just slowly twirl the strand around, and if I find one has rotted, I just pluck it off and discard it.

By the time spring planting comes around, I usually have some onions left.  I have a trick for any of the ones that happen to start sprouting at this time so they don’t go to waste.  I’ll show you that later.  For now, let’s look at braiding them.

 

Start with onions that have dried and cured.  After they are dry, cut the tops off (pull them apart with your hands, really), about 6 inches above the bulb.  If you wait a really long time after they are dried, the tops will just break and this won’t work.  You’ll need to time this to do as soon as the tops are thin and dry enough to manipulate.

Don’t peel the papers off.  I wipe mine mostly clean, but don’t wash them.

Prepare all your onions this way, and divide them up into a small, medium, and large stack if you want.

Next, you’ll want to have a loop of rope.  I always use baling twine because it’s what I have, and I use it for everything.  It’s also rated for 170 pounds, and these onions braids get heavy.

Here's an easy and quick tutorial for learning how to braid onions and store them for a long time. Excellent pictures walk you through the process.

I think the first one is the hardest (click on the image to enlarge).  Put the top through to the bottom of your loop, then bend it back past the first string, and then bend it again past the second string.  You are making a figure 8.  If your onions were cured properly, it should stay in place.  All your instincts will tell you it can’t possibly hold.  But amazingly, it does.

Here's an easy and quick tutorial for learning how to braid onions and store them for a long time. Excellent pictures walk you through the process.

Now, the key when you put the next one on, is to place the top in the opposite direction than the end of the last one was facing.  Again, bend it back around the string, make a figure 8, and bend it past the other string.  Click on the image to enlarge it in a new window.

You will want to make sure to have your loop of rope hanging at a comfortable height, since you’ll be standing here awhile.  Also, pick up your bundle and check it every-so-often.  These get heavy fast.  Don’t do too many, or you won’t be able to lift it.  And you want to make sure where-ever you are storing them has a sturdy enough hook to hold the weight.

You can either make a separate strand for the large, medium and small ones, or you can put all the larges on the bottoms, then put the medium ones on, and then the small ones on the top.

When you are ready to use them, try to pluck them from the top down.  If you take the occasional one from the side, it will be okay–but if you make a habit of this, they will eventually start to fall out as they loose their support.

Here's an easy and quick tutorial for learning how to braid onions and store them for a long time. Excellent pictures walk you through the process.

On top of being practical for food storage, these are beautiful decorations.  I have three of them (purple, white, and another purple) hanging on my porch right now.  I get a lot of complements on them.

I’ll keep them outside in the wind to get as much air as possible until it starts to get humid or snow.  Then, they store well in a root cellar for about the next 8 months to a year.  A well ventilated, cool, dark place could be used as an alternative.  I have hung them in my well by the potatoes in the past (not in an area that could possibly contaminate the water).

Three Last Things To Remember:

  1.  Always check your onions carefully.  It only takes one bad one to ruin them all.
  2. Always make sure they are getting plenty of air.
  3. Never peel them (or ideally, clean them) until you use them.

 

If you find a few months of storage have passed and your onions begin sprouting or going bad, considered dehydrating them before you loose entire strands.

 

Have you resolved to have the best garden ever this year?  Check out these 7 easy steps to make that happen.

You can grow a beautiful and abundant garden this year--you just need a plan.

 

10 Comments

  1. BEAUTIFUL, will doubling next spring crop just so granddaughter and I this together. We will use them as gifts next fall. Thanks.

  2. joseph felix cachia

    October 7, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    Excellent idea….I’ve been doing something like this for the last35 years or so. The difference is that I leave the six inches of dried, (but not flaking ) leaves on and ‘bunch the onions in packs of 6 to 8 depending on size and variety. Leave them in my cellar, (car garage actually) which is open at front and back. They are then suspended with S hooks from a ‘clothes line’ of 1/8 inch dia. galvanised wire, fixed across the opposite long walls Trouble is cockroaches do like onions, so I have to inspect more often , Still They do keep for around 10 months.

    • That sounds excellent Joseph. I often have many in excellent condition for about 10 months as well. Sorry about your cockroaches–I’m very glad we don’t have those here!

    • Joseph, If you want the best and a natural, non toxic way to get rid of roaches use Diatomaceous Earth. This is available in gardening supply stores, it is also sold as flea powder and it is used in pool supplies for filters. Some will tell you the pool stuff does not work, but I have used it and it does. I used to spray a ton of poison on and around my house every year the first time I spotted one of those nasty roaches. We get the giant ones. I started hearing this garden guy talk about D.E. on a news segment and finally decided to try it. I did recall that a guy who sold supplies at the bug and weed mart said you will never get the pests out of your house if you do not get them out of your yards. So I bought a big box of D.E. at a big box store in the pool supply area. Someone told me a little goes a long way, so I decided since it is organic and nontoxic I would use a LOT of it. I sprinkled, rather dumped a bunched of the D.E. all around the entire house, right next to it. Then I brushed it into the gravel. I also put some around inside the perimeter of garage particularly the walls that bordered the house. We were remodeling as well so when we put in new baseboards, I put some inside there as well before we put the new baseboards on. If you want to do this without replacing baseboards or removing them, you can drill random holes in the wall above the base boards and using a squeeze bottle (think of those plastic ketchup & mustard bottles) put it in that way. Just make sure to do this where there are no studs. The studs will be starting from a corner or the end of a wall, every 16 inches, so just drill between that. You will know if you hit a stud, because it will be hard and if not, the drill will go through like butter. You can use almost anything to patch up the little holes and dab some paint on to cover it. Of course this is much easier if you nave one color paint, however most stores now sell little test paint jars for a couple of dollars if you do not have any.

      I have been in my current house since 2004 and I have only done this inside once (that is all you should need) and outside two, maybe three times. I have only seen one live bug in my house, no spiders. If I see an occasional bug it is dead. Where we live, that is unheard of. Actually now I am due for another treatment. Not bad for 12 years, saves a lot of money and hassle with exterminators.

      • JETHRO PAUL RAYMER

        December 25, 2016 at 9:11 am

        DO YOU HAVE ANY NEWSLETTER THAT YOU SEND OUT IF YOU DO CAN YOU PLEASE SIGN ME UP FOR YOUR NEWSLETTER.

        THINK YOU AND GOD BLESS

        JETHRO PAUL RAYMER

  3. Sylvia Laura Ranyak

    December 15, 2016 at 8:14 am

    Excellent idea I will start using this technique for all my future purchases of onions .

  4. Great idea! Do you ever have problems with pests? The only place we have available (that is cool and dry) is our basement. I’m worried about attracting rodents or other pests!

    • Hi Kendra, We also hang ours from the ceiling in our pantry which is in our basement. Although the occasional mouse does get into the pantry, I have never had them get into the onions. Pests have not been a problem for us with our onions.

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