onions on grocery side counter display

Storage & Handling

The quality and safety of any fresh produce item depends on proper handling and storage. The same is true for onions. Fresh market retail processing can effect the flavor and quality of the onions people take home.

Always follow proper handling procedures and safe handling guidelines as outlined by the Food and Drug Administration Food Code. Read and follow handling instructions on all processed products according to the manufactures label.

Basic Storage & Handling Tips for Dry Bulb Onions:

  • Always handle onions with care. Do not drop onions as this often causes bruising and internal decay.
  • Bagged or boxed onions should be stored at least one foot away from walls and other pallets to allow proper air movement.
  • Keep stacks of bags or boxes at five feet or less.
  • Store onions in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area.
  • Maintain storage temperature of 45-55°F.
  • Do not wrap onions in plastic or store in plastic bags. A lack of air circulation will reduce shelf life.
  • Onions should feel firm and dry, be free of gray or black mold, and should not have any visible sprouting. Some loose skins are normal.
  • Do not store onions with potatoes or other produce items that release moisture.
  • Keep onions out of direct sunlight and other heat sources.
  • Cut onions will keep for several days if sealed in plastic bags or containers and refrigerated.

Attributes

Spring/Summer

Fall/Winter

Storage Shelf-life

30 to 60 days

30 to 180 days

Storing Ability

Typically not stored, unless
under controlled atmosphere
or refrigeration

Designed specifically to withstand long periods of storage

Retail Shelf-life

30 days or less

Temperature

Room temperature - Dry storage

Humidity

Keep in a dry, well ventilated place

Freezing Injury

Moderately sensitive.
Highest freezing point =
30.6° F or 0.8°C

Hardier than other varieties.
Highest freezing point =
30.6° F or 0.8°C

Odor Sensitivity

Odors will be absorbed by apples, celery and pears.
Will absorb odors produced by apples and pears.

Sweetness

Sweet/mild to slightly pungent

Varies from mild to very pungent

Aroma

Mild to slightly pungent

Mildly pungent to strong

Colors

Yellow, red, and white

Exterior Shell

Thin, light colored skin

Multiple layers of thick, dark skin

Interior Onion Texture

Soft to medium

Medium to firm


Food Safety

In 2010, the U.S. onion industry proactively developed voluntary commodity specific food safety guidelines for the dry bulb onion supply chain. This document serves as guidance for growers and shippers to adhere to best practices and regulations [i.e. Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs)] governing safe vegetable production. Many suppliers regularly test and monitor the aspects of their growing and distribution cycles, and maintain records of those results for filing with the appropriate auditing agencies. This ensures that onions sent fresh for market retail processing are of the highest quality.

The industry supports government efforts to provide a strong food safety regulatory framework. This assures the public appropriate standards are in place and being met by the dry bulb onion supply chain.

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