Can You Freeze Raw Onions?

If you've stocked up on an abundance of fresh onions during their peak season, chopped up a little too many, or just wish you could extend the shelf life of the ones you bought, freezing them probably sounds like the perfect solution. The good news is, it's actually possible to do so without ruining their integrity. You don't have to cook them either since onions can be frozen in their raw state.

Even without freezing, raw onions have a fairly long shelf life as is. They can stay fresh for between three to six months. However, as soon as you use your go-to onion peeling hack, that timeframe gets shortened to 10 to 14 days and it's even less, seven to 10 days if you chop them. When you freeze raw onions on the other hand, you're able to extend this to eight months, whether whole or chopped. For optimal freshness, just make sure that your freezer is at least zero degrees Fahrenheit.

What happens when you freeze raw onions

In addition to prolonging their shelf life, freezing raw onions also affects their texture and taste. It won't by any means make them inedible, but they won't be as crisp and crunchy as they were before freezing, which is part of why you should always avoid freezing scallions. As far as the flavor is concerned, it's not that onions taste better or worse because of freezing, but rather that they lose their characteristic pungency. This happens after about three to six months, so you don't have to worry about it until after that.

When you freeze them, it's also less likely to make your eyes water when you cut them. Interestingly, there's actually a word for all the produce that can make you cry and it's Allium. Vegetables that belong to this family like onions, can make your eyes tear because of an enzyme being released when its cell walls are damaged but the lower temperatures temporarily render it dormant until it reaches room temperature again. Even if you don't need to store onions for a longer period, freezing them may still be beneficial if your eyes are sensitive to onions.

Tips for freezing raw onions

Technically you could just stick a whole uncovered onion in the freezer, but it may not be the best idea, mainly because of the smell. When you freeze them, they'll also leach their odor in the freezer. Therefore, unless you don't mind the smell, it's best to freeze your onions in an airtight plastic bag, ideally a thick freezer bag as opposed to a sandwich bag.

Whole onions tend to take up a lot of space, so if you have limited room in your freezer, you may want to chop or slice them up first so you can store them flat in a bag. This is a convenient approach because you can cook them from frozen. Meanwhile, whole onions have to be defrosted since they would be rock hard if you were to try to cut into them. For the same reason, if you don't plan on using the whole version in one use, it might be best to chop it up. No matter what method you decide to go with, you can trust that your raw onions will freeze well.