Friday, October 19, 2007

Today we freeze...ONIONS?

Yes, onions in the freezer. One of the nice things about onions -- an ingredient many of us use for nearly every meal -- is that they freeze beautifully with minimal processing. Unlike many vegetables, they don't need to be blanched before freezing. The thawed product can't be substituted for onions eaten uncooked (frozen and thawed onions have a texture similar to that of onions that have been sweated briefly) but the difference is imperceptible in nearly all cooked dishes.

We're nearly at the end of onion season here in Southwest Ohio, so this week I went out to Greenacres and bought all they had. The gardener said they might have a few more, so I'll probably head over again in the next few days and see what I find. In a month or so, when my fresh onions have reached the end of their storage life and everyone else is buying onions shipped from Texas, I'll still be using Ohio onions.


Peel and chop the onions into whatever size you find you use most often -- I generally do a 1/4" dice, as that's a fairly versatile size. Spread in a single layer on a foil-lined cookie sheet and slip into the freezer for several hours or overnight.

When they're frozen solid, pack the frozen pieces into bags. If you use gallon bags, you can simply take out the bag, remove what onions you need (freezing them before packing means they don't stick together in a solid lump, which facilitates the removal of the exact quantity required) and put the bag right back in the freezer.

I like to vacuum pack whatever I can because removing the air means less freezer burn and in turn longer storage life. I've never vacuum packed onions before, though, so I'll have to see how it works. They may end up sticking together a bit, but maybe if I slam the bag on the counter that'll break them up. I used a 6" vacuum bag rolls, cut a long bag and sealed one end using my handy-dandy Seal-a-Meal. Stuff it full of onions, seal the other end, and place it in the freezer. When I cut open the bag to take some out, I'll end up with a smaller bag but fewer onions and (I hope) have enough room on the new open end to make a fresh vacuum seal. (Sealing requires about 2" of unpacked bag end.)

I'm also saving and freezing the ends of today's onions for the end of next week's roast chicken. When the carcass is clean and I'm ready to make stock, I'll pull the onion ends out of the freezer. How frugal am I?


Anne said...

I'm so glad to read this post! I've been wondering how long my onions would keep; now I'm going to chop and freeze a bunch. Thanks!

valereee said...

Anne, glad to help! Peppers are the same -- they need no blanching to go into the freezer. Again, they won't work in dishes that aren't cooked, as their texture when thawed is similar to that of peppers that have been sweated. I was planning to freeze peppers this year but haven't gotten around to it yet.

Zayda said.. said...

Great.!! this is very helpful .. thanks .!! now back to work with my onions and pepper . love the fact i can do this thanks to you all.