As you grab an onion from your stash to add to your favorite recipe, something catches your eye—the dreaded green sprout shooting out, looking very suspicious. But before you automatically toss the sprouted onion into the trash, you should know a few things. These tips could save you some money and an extra trip to the grocery store.
What Does It Mean When an Onion Sprouts?
The green stalk sprouting from the center of your onion bulb is the germinated bulb of the onion plant, because onion bulbs are actually meant to grow new plants. In fact, it’s one of the secrets many gardeners use to ensure they never run out of onions and never have to buy seeds to grow them. So don’t be alarmed, because this is Mother Nature’s master plan in action.
Can You Still Eat an Onion That Is Sprouted?
Yes, you can; there’s nothing toxic or dangerous about using a sprouted onion. However, sprouting may result in a softer onion with a more bitter taste, which some people find less desirable (especially when eaten raw).
If you notice an onion has sprouted—whether it’s a yellow onion, red onion, sweet onion, white onion, or shallot—rotate it to the front of your pile, and use it as soon as possible, because the longer the sprout gets, the softer your onion will become.
What Can You Do With Onions That Have Sprouted?
You can use sprouted onions just as you would any other onion, but they are well suited for recipes that involve cooking and frying because you won’t notice the softer texture. They are also ideal for use as a garnish (like on chili ). If you don’t want to consume the sprout itself (though you can), simply chop it off, cut the onion in half, and remove any remaining portion of the shoots.
How Can You Tell if an Onion Is Bad?
Sprouting isn’t necessarily a sign that your onion is bad, but there are other telltale signs to look for. If you see signs of decay or mold on the onion, then it’s time to throw it out. Also, if you notice a musty odor, that’s another reason to toss it and grab a fresher onion.
How Do You Properly Store Onions to Prevent Sprouting?
When it comes to onions, moisture is your arch nemesis. Exposure to moisture is what makes them start sprouting in the first place, which is why storing them in the fridge isn’t a great idea.
Sunlight is another no-no, because it will also cause sprouting. Therefore, onions should be stored in a cool, dark space (like a pantry or cellar with temperatures between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit) to prevent sprouting.
Furthermore, the National Onion Association advises against storing onions with potatoes (onions emit ethylene gas, which will cause potatoes to ripen) and storing them in plastic bags.