Freeze Those Onion Tops!

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It’s that time of year!  Most of here in the midwest are sweating our faces off and harvesting our spring planted onions.  I typically braid and hang my largest onions.  They’ll last all winter that way.  Ready to be diced and added fresh to a meal right off my pantry wall.

But what to do about those oddball onions.  The ones you missed when you were thinning the crop and didn’t have enough room to grow.  The ones that bolted instead of developing a nice bulb.  The ones that went to seed – and therefore won’t last the winter on the wall.  These aren’t worth the effort to braid and hang.  They need to be used immediately…or at least within a few weeks.

But don’t just leave them on the counter!  You’ll be throwing away an important resource: the onion top!  Onion tops may not carry a huge nutritional punch, but they are an easy way to get some “green” in your diet AND they taste just like an onion.  Plus, they don’t make your eyes burn when you dice them.  Win-Win in my book!

There are two ways to preserve onion tops: freezing and dehydrating.  I’m not big on dehydrating them.  I find the storage tricky.  Any tiny bit of moisture gets in your storage container and you ruin the whole batch quickly.  Plus dehydrating takes forever (ok not forever, but pretty much all day!).  I find freezing the onion tops makes them easily accessible, gives them a good life span (at least 6 months), and retains their flavor and texture for cooking.

I sub onion tops into any recipe that requires minced or diced onions: meatballs, omelets, casseroles, stir-fries, etc.  They are especially handy when I’m cooking just for me and I don’t want to dice up 1/8th of an onion for a tiny recipe.  Just grab a few rings from the freezer and toss them in.  Done!  No smelly hands.  No watery eyes,  No left over onion stinking up my whole fridge.

A couple of tips to freezing the onion tops:

  • Freeze them how you want to use them.  For me, this is diced into small rings.
  • Freeze them within 24 hours of picking.  They lose their moisture quickly and will get flimsy and slimy otherwise.
  • Freeze first on a cookie sheet, then transfer to an airtight container.  This will keep them from freezing together in a big clump.  You can use ziplock bags…I prefer these reusable silicone bag.  They last longer and are thicker so do a better job protecting against freezer burn:

The steps are super simple:

  1. Cut the green tops from the onion. 
  2. Rinse to remove any dirt.
  3. Dice into bite size rings.  I find a serrated knife cuts the best.
    Best part of onion tops…all the taste with ZERO tears 🙂
  4. Place on a cookie sheet in a single layer.
    Don’t pile the tops onto the cookie sheet…place in a single layer.
  5. Freeze for at least 2 hrs.
  6. Place frozen rings into an airtight container.
  7. Keep in your freezer until you need them!  I toss them in recipes straight from the freezer.  They cook very quickly.