Thursday, September 8, 2011

Curing Onions

I'd pulled the soaker hoses off the rest of the onions a few weeks ago, and bent down those tops still upright. After a couple of weeks of drying and dying, I used a garden fork to loosen the soil, then my hands to scoop up the bulbs. I then wheeled them into the shade up by the house to cure.

Onions need to be cured for storage. Set out in a single layer in a warm and airy spot, the roots die, the neck shrinks down, and the outer-most layers dry and toughen up. Properly cured yellow Copra onions, I've found, will successfully store for close to a year - easily until the following July. Of my long-day sampler bunch trials, the Walla Wallas are already harvested and in the kitchen, as they'll only hold for a month. Of the rest of that bunch, the white Ringmasters should store up to 4 months and the Red Zeppelins six to eight. I've liked having some red onions this year. I've been using them in the kitchen throughout the summer. I'm also very interested in seeing how the Ringmasters hold up in storage. They produced some beautiful big bulbs with small necks (necessary for good storage potential), and more importantly are an open-pollinated variety (as opposed to a hybrid). I might replant one or two of those late this fall, to let go to seed next year. Onion self-sufficiency is an eventual goal of mine.

Our weather is gradually sliding towards fall. Days are still quite warm though, and the nights cooler but still nice enough to sleep with the windows open. Last night, I hadn't been asleep long when I awakened to the pitty-pat sound of raindrops. Oh no, if the onions got soaked it would ruin their curing. I got out of bed and grabbed a vinyl tablecloth from the camping gear in the closet. The rain had just started; the tree had kept most of the water off the onions. Quickly tucking the doubled tablecloth around the onions, I went back to bed. When the flash of a full-on booming thunderstorm woke me again a little later, I just smiled and went back to sleep. My onions were safe. The next morning, I uncovered them before the day warmed up. If I'd left them under the waterproof cover, they'd have started to sweat, also threatening the curing process. With a slight chance of thunderstorms this upcoming week, I thought it best to move the onions into the garage. I can open up the doors to let the air move through, and not have to worry about any storms coming though when I'm not at home.

No comments: