Finding new ways to preserve onions

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I’m going to return to onions one more time this week. After staring at my pile of onions in the kitchen for a few weeks, I decided to jump in and get something done with them. They were in the way all of the time.

In researching chopping onions on the Internet (I was looking for tips to protect my eyes while chopping), I watched a video on dehydrating onions. Well, I’d never tried that before. I always just chopped and froze them, but this didn’t look too bad.

With my dehydrator empty of herbs at the moment, it was a good time to get them going.
Chopping onions has never been one of my favorite chores, but in the video, a Prep Solutions Onion Chopper was used, which made it look a lot easier. I was willing to give it to try. After finding the same onion chopper at a local store, I was ready to go. All I had to do was peel the onions, cut the ends off, wash them and cut them in half. Then place them on the grate and chop them. I have to admit, I was a little hesitant. Usually these “cool” devices don’t quite live up to what they promise, but this one did. I had my dehydrator full in no time, not to mention my fingers weren’t cramping up like usual after chopping that many onions. I highly recommend this device if you don’t have one.

Back to dehydrating. Once the onions are all chopped, spread them out on the dehydrator trays, but make sure there is a liner on them so they don’t fall through as they dry.
A tip I saw in a couple of places was to start the onions outside. Could it really be that bad? But it was a nice day, so I sat my dehydrator out on the picnic table and ran an extension cord to it. Boy was I glad I did. The only advice I have to anyone trying this with close neighbors is to prepare a gift basket to take them with an apology note. You could smell the onions all the way around the house they were so strong as they started drying.
After about six hours of drying, I did bring them back inside due to a threat of rain over night, but with the ceiling fan on, the smell was mostly gone.

It took about 24 hours to get them completely dehydrated. They will be brittle. IMG_3150
I read this will leave the dehydrator smelling like onions, although I did not think it was that strong and it would probably disappear the next time you dehydrate something. But if you can’t stand even the fainted onion smell in your dehydrator, another tip I read was to dehydrate potatoes right after the onions and it gets rid of the smell, but doesn’t affect the potatoes. I figured it was worth a try, so I prepared some potatoes. After boiling 5-8 minutes, let the potatoes cool overnight in the refrigerator, then shred or slice them, and fill the dehydrator once again.

After 12 hours, the potatoes were dry and the smell was completely gone.

Now I have two new ways to preserve onions from my garden, and the dried onions are said to have a better taste than when frozen. I can’t wait to try them in a recipe.

Until next time, happy garden-fresh eating!

Julie Clements is a Butler County Master Gardener.
Share your ideas for garden-fresh recipes or ways to preserve at julieclements75@gmail.com and some will be featured in upcoming columns.

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