Mavis Garden Blog – How to Harvest and Store Onions

I’ve received a bunch of questions recently from people wanting to know when they should harvest their onions,  so I thought I would go ahead and repost this handy dandy tutorial on how to harvest and store onions for those of you who have never done it before, or just need a quick refresher.


This year I grew 3 different types of onions.  Walla Walla Sweets Yellow Onions, and Red Onions.

The Walla Wallas are for eating fresh, the yellows for winter storage, and the red onions for homemade salsa, sandwiches and for roasting on the grill.

Because I planted so many onions, at different times, not all of the onions are ready to harvest right now.  But a few of them are.

Here are a few pictures of the drying process of my first batch of onions.

Onions are ready to be harvested when the necks are nice and dry.  At this point you’ll want to pull up the onions, and lay them flat on the soil for a day or two so they have a chance to  dry out in the sun a bit.

Then, you’ll want to move your onions to a warm, ventilated area {out of the sun} for a few weeks so they can finish curing.

You’ll know the onions are done drying when they look like the regular onions you see in the grocery store.  The outer skins will be paper like and brittle, the roots will be dry, and the tops will be completely dried out.

If you would like to show off your onions, then you’ll definitely want to try braiding them.  Hanging the onions in the kitchen is cool.  The Pilgrims did it, and so can you.

Braiding onions is pretty basic, almost like french braiding hair, but instead of pulling hair {onions} from beneath, you are adding them on top and working them into the onions from there.

The trick to braiding the onions is to make sure the onion stalks are not completely dried out.  If they are to dry, the papery stalks will crumble in your hands.  You need them to be moist enough so they will be flexible to braid with out falling apart.

When I braided the bunch of onions you see above, they had been drying for about 7 days on the back porch, which I felt was the perfect amount of time.  As the onions continue to dry, they will hold together just fine because I braided them pretty tight.

As far as long term storage goes, brush off any excess dirt, and place onions in mesh bags, or storage crates in a cool, dark place.  The ideal temp for storing onions is around 40 degrees.

Now, if I could just get the smell of onions off my hands…

Related posts:

  • Like on FaceBook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Want to get more of this awesome goodness? Sign up here for the newsletter!


  1. Elizabeth says

    We only have the yellow as they store so well. I actually just finished up the very last 2 a few weeks ago. I do chop lots and freeze into 1 cup measures and throw those into a larger freezer bag. Good for anytime need to add onion. We like onion, so if says 1/2 we usually use 1 C, 1 T and we’d probably use 1/4 C.

    For eating onions on a veggie burger or grilled cheese I buy a sweet onion at the store and always have one on hand, in fridge to keep it longer. Same with red, must have red form my tossed salads.

    I think you explained well about the curing. I think when people have spoilage is because they did not allow to cure, are in a damp environment or left too much dirt on the onion.

  2. Elizabeth says

    Oh, I reread my comment…when I said I finished up the last few, that was LAST YEAR’s crop….have not pulled this year yet except for thinning.

  3. Mrs. Hillbilly says

    Granny Hillbilly used to store them in old panty hose. She would put one in the toe then tie a knot then add the next tie a knot so that the onions would not touch . Then when she wanted one she would just cut one off. She stored in a dark dry place.

  4. LaToya says

    Why do they call them red onions when they are purple? I call them purple onions. Because they ARE purple, dammit!

  5. Aubre says

    Down here in Louisiana, our hands usually REEK after eating crawfish at a boil. For a boil, we use garlic, onions, spices, and more mixed with the seafood, so needless to say the resulting taste is delicious but the leftover smell is not! We use liquid clothing fabric softener to wash our hands, and the smell disappears immediately. The first time I heard this, it sounded too simple to be true, but let me tell you it definitely works! If it works on crawfish-hands, I would imagine it would have to work on onion-hands.

  6. says

    My granddad does a similar thing but instead of braiding them (the braid gets very thick mighty quick) he hangs a cord (well in his case and ancient electric cable) from an over head beam, ties a bigish knot in the end of the cable and then uses the necks of each onion to tie a half knot around the cable.
    Not quite sure if I’m explaining very well – just wrap the neck around the cable once and loop the end of the neck back through itself.
    He can easily knot 70 odd onions onto one cable. He then hangs them in the shed where they keep for ages because the air can circulate around them.

  7. Gosia says

    If you want to get rid of the smell of onions from your hands, use lemon juice (fresh or bottled). Just pour a teaspoon of lemon juice into cupped hand and rub both hands together. Rinse with running water. It should take care of the smell. Good luck.

  8. says

    Quick tip to get smell off your hands. Rub stainless steel between them. Like the kitchen sing faucet or a big spoon. I don’t know why it works because I am not even a skinny bit science-y. But it works. And it’s free (my favorite price)!


  9. KC says

    And an old, old technique (from the Wartime Kitchen and Garden special about Britain in WWII) which requires somewhat less in the way of long and flexible stems but still results in a lovely hanging of onions:

    • KC says

      (sorry – I meant to give the link to the direct part of the video about onion tying – it’s about 9:15 into the video)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *