|Onion Storage Tips ||June 2013|
We hope you're enjoying the 2013 growing season!
Last month, we provided tips on when to pull your onions from the soil, and how to properly dry and cure them in preparation for storage. In this issue, we'll review the best ways to store your onions, as well as strategies for preventing storage problems.
When Drying Is Complete...
You'll know an onion is properly dried when the neck becomes tight (that is, it doesn't slip to the touch), the skin color is the same over the entire onion, and the outer skin is papery and rustles when touched. By this time, the onion will have entered a state of rest.
With drying finished, curing is necessary for a couple of weeks to get excess moisture out of the onions before storing. Sweet onions have a shorter storage life than standard storage varieties, due to their higher sugar content. For both types, curing can be done under a shed, out in the field, or indoors. Just make sure the onions stay dry during this period.
Follow these tips to help your onions last for as long as possible:
- Once the curing process is complete, store your onions in a dark, cool, dry location with good air circulation. Avoid direct sunlight.
- If possible, spread out the onions, with enough room in between them for the air to circulate. They should also be at least a foot from the walls of the storage area.
- Leave the dried-out onions skins intact to protect the onions and make them store longer.
- Store your onions at 40-60� F at 65%-70% humidity. You can purchase a hygrometer to measure humidity for $10 or less in many hardware stores, or online.
- Never store whole onions in plastic bags, because the lack of air circulation reduces their storage life.
- Don't store onions with potatoes, because potatoes emit moisture that can cause your onions to spoil.
- Bruised, cut, or diseased bulbs should never be stored! Throw away the bad ones and eat the damaged ones first. The same goes for onions with thick necks and green tops.
Preventing Storage Damage
There are a number of things you can do during the growth process and after harvest that can help your onions last longer.
- Rotate your onion crop regularly. In other words, don't grow them in the same location year after year.
- Dispose of any crop residues immediately; don't leave them in place over the winter or till them back into the soil.
- Don't leave harvested onions outside during rainy weather; dry the onions under a shed or indoors.
- Handle the bulbs carefully to minimize bruising and cuts.
- Keep the bulbs dry after the harvest and during storage. We can't emphasize this enough.
Properly handled, storage onions can last through most of your off-season, so you don't have to do without your favorite recipes. Follow these tips, and there's no reason why you can't be eating onion rings in December!
Bruce "Onionman" Frasier
Mesh Netting. The best way to store onions is in mesh netting like the kind pictured here. Simply drop in an onion, tie a knot above it, drop in another, and continue the process until the netting is full. Hang it up in a cool, dry place, and you're sitting pretty.
Your onions will be safe and fresh until you need them. Whenever you want an onion, simply cut above the bottommost knot and take the onion that drops off. It's easy as pie, keeps the onion well-ventilated, and doesn't let disease (if any) travel from onion to onion like some storage methods can.
Storage Bags. If you grow onions in quantity, like so many of our customers do, you'll need some good storage options -- especially if you're planning to sell your onions. Our storage bags are ideal.
These orange mesh bags not only provide the ventilation your onions need, they're light and strong as well. They're available in three sizes, with the 10 and 50 pound sizes recommended for larger producers:
You can purchase our storage bags individually or in bulk. Normally they're $2.50 each, but if you buy ten or more, they're $2.00 each. And of course, as with all products at Dixondale Farms, we don't add shipping charges.
Onion Calipers. We know you're a master onion farmer, but now you can prove it! With this onion caliper tool you can accurately determine the size of your crop. Onions are categorized according to their diameter:
Super Colossal: 4-1/4 inches and up
Colossal: 3-3/4 inches and up
Jumbo: 3 inches and up
Medium: 2-1/4 inches to 3-1/4 inches
Prepack: 1-3/4 inches to 2-3/4 inches
Boiler: 1 to 1-7/8 inches
As you can see, there's some overlap of sizing. A 3-1/4 inch medium can be considered a large medium or a small jumbo, for example.
We're selling these handy tools for $4.99, and we only have a limited number -- so hurry! They have our 100-year logo on them, and will be great to use at farmers markets or for bragging rights with other onion growers!
From Our Friends
In Honor of Dick Juelson
We recently learned that our friend Dick Juelson passed away on February 10, 2013. Dick introduced Dixondale Farms to Alaska; in fact, Dixondale was mentioned in the eulogy at Dick's service. This picture was featured in the November 2002 issue of the Alaska Master Gardeners Association Newsletter. The onions are Walla Wallas. Thanks for some good years, Dick. We'll miss you.
Got some onion-related photos to share? Click here for submission tips. You just might see your photo in a future newsletter!
| Around the Farm
We've had many reasons to celebrate this season...there have been quite a few babies born to the Dixondale family recently! We finally wrangled all the babies together and got a snapshot.
Front Row, Left to Right: Rose Hernandez (Customer Service Rep) with baby Emarie Rose Sifuentez, Jason Olvera (Forklift Manager) with baby Tommy Angel Olvera, and E.J. Balderas (IT Manager) with baby Bryson Blake Balderas.
Back Row: Jesse James Jaime (Shed Foreman) with baby Jayse Jaime, and Lori Lira (Customer Service Rep) with baby King Jasonuel Lira.
What a delightful little bunch! Congratulations to all the proud families!
|Cooking with Onions
Grilled Onion Salsa
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 cup seeded jalapeno peppers, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- Fresh squeezed lime juice
Grill the onion slices. Coarsely chop the grilled rings and mix with the chopped tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, and cumin seeds. Season with salt and fresh lime juice. Makes about 3-1/2 cups.
Recipe courtesy of The National Onion Association. If you have a recipe you'd like us to print, email it to email@example.com.
Q & A: Too Much Rain
Q. I live outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and we've had high winds and too much rain in my area recently. Several of my onions are bent (maybe broken) two inches above the bulb, and in my opinion they're another month away from maturity. Is there anything I can do about this, and does it mean the onion is basically done with its growth?
A. No, they aren't done. The neck is just so full of water it can't support the weight of the foliage. Don't water them for a while and they'll stand back up. Get some fungicide on them to prevent disease!
Fun Onion Facts
Did you know that onions, even those not considered sweet, contain more sugar than apples? The reason it's not more obvious is that the sulfur compounds that give the onions their bite and distinctive smell hide their sweetness.
This explains why cooked onions and onion sauces tend to taste sweet, and it's also the reason that onions caramelize easily when overcooked. In addition to sugar, onions are also rich in vitamins B1, B6, B9, and quercetin, a natural flavinoid that may help fight cancer.
All Your Questions Answered
We have answers to your frequently asked questions! Just click the link for information on when to order your onions and how to find your frost and freeze dates, as well as for tips on planting, caring, feeding, harvesting, and storing them.
Lupe Contreras has been a loyal employee of Dixondale Farms for over 30 years. Her entire family used to work at Dixondale Farms when she was a child.
Whenever the Department of Labor would show up for an inspection, they immediately went to see how much Lupe was earning, since she was the only woman in the field. What they didn't know was that Lupe was the fastest plant puller in the area, male or female!
Lupe always has a smile on her face, and has a great laugh. She has beaten breast cancer and overcome other challenges over the years. She's still one of the best employees Dixondale has ever had.
Got some pictures to share? Send 'em our way!
About Dixondale Farms
As the largest and oldest onion plant farm in the U.S. (100 years strong!), Dixondale Farms offers a wide selection of top-quality, disease-free, ready-to-plant onion plants. To see our complete product line, request a catalog, or for growing tips and cultural information, visit our Web site.
Whether you're planting one bunch or thousands of acres, we're committed to your success. We've posted answers to frequently asked questions about growing onions on our FAQ page. If you have other questions, call us from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM CT at 877-367-1015, or e-mail us any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join Us on Facebook!
Join the community of friends and growers on our Facebook page! You can connect with us and fellow growers to share stories, photos, recipes, and even weather information and other tips. And be sure to check out our short videos, on topics ranging from how onion plants are harvested to how onions deal with cold weather.
'Tis the season -- harvest season -- for some. Check out the wonderful onion photos your fellow growers have recently posted on our Facebook page!
And remember -- if you're looking to make a unique fashion statement and join us as we celebrate 100 years of business at one and the same time, you can buy one of our spiffy new Centennial T-shirts!