portioning onions

Freezing Onions

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portioning onions
Caramelized onions, anytime!

Okay, this isn’t really a recipe, but a technique. On Wednesday, you saw that we picked up even more onions in our weekly CSA share, and, when we counted all the ones we had on the counter, it was about a dozen really large onions. Now, we like onions, but there’s almost no way that two people are going to go through a dozen large onions before they go bad. And, that assumes that we don’t get more in the coming weeks. So, what to do with all those onions? Freeze them, of course, but we’ll show you a better way to freeze onions, one you might not have thought of previously.

Instead of just dicing and freezing the onions (they don’t need to be blanched), we went ahead and cooked them first. That way they’ll be nearly caramelized before we use them in a meal, meaning more flavor. And it’s all about flavor. So, let’s go through the steps from start to finish, shall we?

sliced onions
In this case, use a Cuisinart or food processor to slice the onions, or be prepared to cry your eyes out.

Slice onions. Slicing a whole bunch of onions is the time you want to break out the food processor. Trust us; while we could have just peeled and sliced the onions, it would have taken an hour. All of the slicing through teary eyes, too. Instead, we got out the food processor, attached the slicing blade, and went to town. In less than 10 minutes, a huge pan full of onion slices. The other advantage of using a machine for slicing is that the slices will be uniform, so they’ll all cook at the same rate.

cooked onions
After cooking for several hours, your onions should be tasty. Feel free to hit them up with salt and pepper while cooking, if desired.

Fry onions. With all those onions, we started with about a quarter cup of canola oil, heated it over medium, and tossed in the onions. Then we let them cook, and cook, and cook, and cook. With a bunch of stirring mixed in. We wanted our onions to be fully cooked and slightly caramelized. It took about 2 hours. Of course, we didn’t just stand there cooking onions for 2 hours; we also made lunch (Verdolagas Burritos, with Scratched Tortillas).

portioning onions
For us, a mini-muffin tin was perfect for portioning out the onions, and for freezing them, too.

Pack into mini muffin tins. Once the onions were done to our liking, we broke out the mini-muffin pan and packed onions into the cups. We figured that these little cups would hold just the right amount of onions for most dishes, and, if we needed more, well, then we could start with two cups. Now, we could have used something else, like ice-cube trays, but we didn’t want onion-flavored ice in our future. Another possibility is to pack the onions into a large freezer bag and flatten them out as much as possible. Then you should be able to break or chop off just what you need once frozen.

Freeze. Place the muffin pan in the freezer and let those onions freeze up pretty solidly. It should take about an hour or two.

freezing onions
Once mostly frozen, pop into a freezer bag and keep frozen until you need onions.

Repack into bags. Once frozen, simply pack those “onion muffins” into a freezer bag and pop back in the freezer. Now, when you need a bit of cooked-to- perfection onions in a hurry, simply grab a “muffin” or two and toss right into whatever you’re cooking. No need even to thaw.

What a great way to use up all those onions. Well, not all; we used about seven, but it made a dent in our onion overload. If we get more onions, you can bet that we’ll break out the skillet again, and make up some more of these “onion muffins” for later.

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