When you end up with more chopped onions than you need for a dish, you may like to store the excess for later. Or, you may have bought a big bag of onions at a sale, and are wondering how to store them for later. In either case, placing chopped onions in the freezer may seem like a good idea. But, can you freeze chopped onions?
Yes, you can freeze chopped onions, but their texture will change. Frozen onions aren’t as crunchy or pungent as fresh onions. However, they retain their flavor and are suitable for soups, stews, and casseroles. Chopped onions stored in a freezer-safe airtight bag will be usable for 3 to 6 months.
Let’s delve deeper into this now.
How Do You Freeze Cut Onions?
Onions are a versatile pantry ingredient that finds use in various dishes.
They also keep well for a long time. Hence, most people prefer to buy onions in bulk.
When stored in a cool, dry space, away from moisture and sunlight, onions hold up for several weeks.
You don’t even have to refrigerate these vegetables, they do well at room temperature.
Nonetheless, there are occasions when you may not need an entire onion for a dish.
Or, you may like to chop onions in advance as part of your food prep and store them for later.
In such situations, it may seem like a good idea to store chopped onions in the freezer.
Freezing cut vegetables extend their lifespan. They last longer in the freezer than at room temperature.
However, the cold environment of the freezer will affect their texture.
Most varieties of fresh onions are pungent. So they make your eyes water when you cut into them.
Freshly chopped onions also have a delicious crunch.
Freezing the vegetable alters both these characteristic features of onions.
Frozen onions lack the characteristic crispiness and astringent quality of raw onions.
However, freezing onions doesn’t alter their flavor.
They will still retain their complex taste and add depth to many dishes.
You can use frozen onions in casseroles, soups, stews, and dishes where they add volume and flavor to the dish.
But they will not work in salads and other recipes where their crunchy texture is key.
The longer you freeze onions, the softer they become.
These vegetables will also release more moisture when you place them in a cooking pan.
So we don’t recommend storing onions for more than three months in the freezer.
Freezing onions in the best possible way will extend their life and also allow them to retain their original flavor.
Meanwhile, improper storage will speed up spoiling.
It will also lead to the strong odor of onions permeating the freezer compartment.
To prevent their smell from lingering inside the refrigerator, use proper storage containers or bags that tightly lock their flavors and odors.
So what’s the best way to freeze cut onions? Let’s find out.
The Best Way To Freeze Chopped Onions
Freezing whole onions isn’t a good idea because their papery skin will absorb moisture.
This will make them soggy and soft, and spoil them faster.
It’s also not very easy to thaw and use whole onions. They will lose their firmness and be very difficult to chop later.
If you must freeze whole onions, you should blanch them before storage.
It’s more practical to store raw chopped onions as they freeze and thaw well.
Depending on the purpose for which you will be using the onions, you can store them with or without blanching.
Raw chopped onions freeze well without blanching. So you can skip this step.
If you decide to blanch chopped onions before freezing, you should heat the onions all the way to the center.
For regular onions, this will take around seven minutes.
You can also store chopped onions without blanching. However, you must pick the right onions for storage.
Fully mature, firm onions that don’t yield to the touch are ideal for freezing.
Onions that are too soft will have more moisture and aren’t the best candidates for deep freezing.
After choosing the best onions for freezing, follow these steps to chop and store them properly.
- Clean and dry the onions before chopping. Get rid of the outer papery layer of skin and scrub the surface to remove any dirt. Then, dry it thoroughly before chopping.
- Chop the onions by hand or in a food processor. Avoid making the slices too fine since thawed onions will have more moisture. If you cut them too fine, they can end up like mush when frozen and thawed. So, keep it slightly chunky.
- The best way to store chopped onions in the freezer is using airtight freezer-safe bags. Choose thick bags and avoid zip-lock sandwich bags which will allow the odor to escape.
Alternately, you can also use airtight freezer-safe containers to store the onions in the freezer.
However, these consume more space compared to bags that you can easily stack inside the freezer compartment.
There are two ways to store chopped onions.
1. Tray Pack
For this method, spread the chopped onions on a baking tray or cookie sheet and flash freeze it for an hour in the freezer.
Then transfer the onions into a thick freezer bag.
Remove the excess air by pressing down the bag. Seal the contents in place and return the bag to the freezer.
The main benefit of this method is that you can easily measure the onions out for recipes because they remain separate.
2. Dry Pack
Directly transfer the chopped onions into thick freezer bags after you cut them.
Seal the bag after expelling any excess air.
Place the bags in the freezer and allow them to freeze. They will freeze solid in a few hours.
You can remove the bags from the freezer when needed and allow the onions to thaw for using it in different recipes.
How Long Do Chopped Onions Last In The Freezer?
If you store them properly in the freezer, you can use your chopped onions within three to six months.
However, onions will lose their crunch as time passes. They will absorb moisture and become softer.
Hence, it’s better to use them up quickly.
The longer you store onions in the freezer, the more moisture they will release during cooking.
However, excess moisture will evaporate when the onions hit a hot pan.
How To Thaw And Use Frozen Chopped Onions?
If you will not be using an entire frozen batch of onions, freeze them as individual portions.
Another option is to tray pack them.
For this method, you should flash-freeze the onions before bagging them. So they will not clump together.
You can separate the quantity you need from the pack and leave the rest undisturbed.
To use your frozen chopped onions, remove them from the freezer a few hours before use and leave them on the counter to thaw.
You can also run the packet under water to speed up the thawing process.
If you don’t wish to wait, you can also directly toss the onions into the pan.
They will thaw as they cook. However, the moisture they release will also make its way into the dish.
Which Onions Freeze Best?
All varieties of onions generally freeze well.
Regardless of their size or variety, you can store most onions in the freezer for a long time and use them as required.
However, when freezing onions, always choose fresh and highly flavorful onions.
Chop and store them when they are at the peak of their freshness for best outcomes.
Once onions lose their firmness and become soft, they tend to spoil quickly.
Don’t wait till they soften or sprout. Freeze them before this stage.