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Curing and Braiding Onions for Storage

About two weeks ago I pulled all the onions out of the garden and decided to try curing and braiding them for longer-term storage in the cellar. I had heard that curing the onions would help them to store longer, as it causes the outer layers to become dry and crispy (just like the outer layers are when you buy onions at the store).  The long tops of the onions also become dry.  This helps to prevent the onions from molding while in storage.

I would have to say that curing and braiding onions was much easier than I thought it would be. It was probably the easiest task that I've accomplished on the farm.  And it's so rewarding to see the onions now hanging down in my cellar. I can now go down a few steps to snip off my week's worth of onions.  You can see in the photo where I've already snipped off a few onions on the left one.

Of course, the first step is to dig out the onions from the garden.  Most onions pulled out easily enough with a gentle tug. Some of the onion bulbs were more stubborn, and so I ended up getting the shovel out to loosen the soil a bit.  Just be careful not to cut into one of the onions or to break its green top off.  Those tops are needed for braiding.

It may not look like a lot of onions, but the pile was several layers deep by the time I had pulled them all out. After inspecting them and setting aside any that had bad spots (these went right to the kitchen to be cleaned up, bad parts removed, and used right away), I had about 100 beautiful onions ready for curing.  I simply dusted off the dirt (don't wash them, as they need to be kept dry), and carried them to the shop.

Next, I set up a "curing station" for the onions.  I used two sawhorses and a panel of chicken wire, with a ladder across the top to hold the chicken wire in place.  The onions were placed upside down through the chicken wire.

Each day, we opened the shop doors so that the warm summer air could circulate around the onions to help them dry.  If you decide to braid onions, be sure that they have cured long enough first.  I read online that curing onions takes about 7-10 days.  However, since I live in a more humid climate in the Pacific Northwest, my onions needed to cure for about 16 days before they were ready.  I am learning that patience is a virtue in gardening and farm life.

Once my onions were cured and ready, I needed to figure out how to braid them.  Since I had never tried doing this before, watching a few YouTube videos helped. I end up following the onion braiding technique shown by the Parisienne Farmgirl, Angela:

The onions were soon finished with a little help from my husband, who held onto the onion mass while I braided it.  It really was a two-person job especially the first time around.  

Onion braids can easily hang from a nail or hook on the wall or ceiling.  Hanging them in this way allows air to circulate around them so that they stay nice and dry.  Storing them in a dark cellar also helps with long term storage.  I'm hoping that my braided onions will store for at least a few months, long enough to use them all up.