Should You Wash An Onion?

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Everyone knows how important it is to rinse fresh produce, but it always seems like onions get a free pass. Is it true that onions are safe to eat without a quick rinse? Or are chefs being a bit careless by neglecting to clean this veggie? If you’re curious about whether you should start washing your onions, then you’ve come to the right post. Below, we’ll reveal the latest research on the when, why, and how of washing onions. 

While it doesn’t hurt to wash onions before cooking, it’s not necessary. Not only do onions have a protective outer casing, but they’re also listed as one of the cleanest veggies in terms of pesticide exposure. Plus, heating your onions will kill harmful microbes. However, if you’re going to eat your onion raw, you should give it a quick wash in cool water to be on the safe side. Also, if your onions have clear signs of dirt, you should wash them before cutting. 

Onions may not be as susceptible to E. coli as lettuce, but that doesn’t mean you should never rinse them. Not only will washing remove grit and grime, it could help you adjust your onion’s flavor. Please keep reading to find out more about the benefits of washing onions. 

Golden onions on rustic wooden background. Should You Wash An Onion

Should Onions Be Washed Before Cutting?

Generally speaking, it’s safe to use unwashed onions if you’re going to cook them. Heat does a fantastic job of killing bad microbes on this Allium. However, if you’re going to eat your onions raw, it’s worth the few extra seconds to wash them. 

Even though onions are one of the cleanest veggies in terms of pesticide exposure, that doesn’t mean they can’t have nasty bugs on them. Unfortunately, we never know who’s handling our produce. When you slice into an onion, germs on the outer layer could work their way inward. 

Colorful onions and garlic on rustic wooden background

Indeed, there were a few recent cases where onions had to be recalled due to salmonella. While it’s not as common for onions to be the cause of these outbreaks, it can happen. For this reason, you should wash your onion before eating it raw. You may also want to invest in a veggie brush to help get your onions squeaky clean. 

Find out more on this Amazon link. 

How Do You Wash An Onion?

Peeled onion under running water

To properly wash an onion, please follow these three steps:

  1. Cut off the two stems and remove all the outer skin.
  2. Hold your onion over cool running water and wipe away any obvious debris.
  3. After a few seconds, shut off the water and pat your onion dry with a paper towel. 

How Do You Wash Onions For A Salad?

Wet red onion bulbs in woman hands with water drops

If you want to wash pre-chopped onions for a salad, you could place your onion slices in a strainer and run them over cool water for a few seconds. Alternatively, you could put your onion slices in a bowl of cold water and let them sit for 10 minutes before straining them. 

As your onion slices sit in water, they will lose their pungent, oniony edge. Indeed, many chefs use this strategy when they want raw onions that have a milder, sweeter flavor.

Check out this YouTube video to learn more about this kitchen hack.

By the way, you should check out our post on the “Best Knife for Cutting Onions” to get the most out of this veggie.

Do You Wash Onions Before Storing?

You shouldn’t wash your onions before storing them. To get the longest shelf-life out of your onions, you need to keep them cool and dry. Excess water or humidity could breed mold, which is always a big no-no.

When kept in a well-ventilated space, onions usually last about seven to 14 days. Please scrutinize your onions and throw away any that don’t look good. KitchenSeer has an entire post detailing the “Best Ways To Store Onions.” Be sure to give this a look if you need more tips!  

How Do You Clean Green Onions?

Woman Washing Onions in the Kitchen Sink

Also called scallions, green onions are a popular garnish in Asian cuisine. Although scallions look different than standard onions, you can clean them in the same way. Place your green onions under cool running water and scrub away any obvious debris. Once your green onions are clean, pat them dry with a paper towel before slicing them.

On the topic of slicing scallions, there are a few steel graters specifically designed for green onions. If you cook a lot of Asian food in your home, you may want to add this tool to your kitchen.

Find out more on this Amazon link. 

Can You Clean Onions With Distilled Vinegar?

White vinegar in bottle

You may have heard of people putting their produce in vinegar baths to remove pesticide residue. While this may seem like some new health fad, there’s a lot of science to back this technique up.

Indeed, a recent study out of America’s Test Kitchen found a combination of vinegar and water was the most effective way to clear germs from produce. According to testers, it’s best to use a ratio of one part vinegar to three parts water.

You can use this vinegar water trick in one of two ways. Either place your produce in a bath of cool water and vinegar or use a spray bottle with the vinegar mixture. After you let the vinegar sit for at least two minutes, rinse thoroughly with cool running water. 

Find out more on this Amazon link.

Can You Wash Onions With Soap And Water?

White Onions washed in a kitchen sink

You should never use dishwashing detergent to clean fruits or vegetables. While these cleaning products get rid of germs, they will remain on your onion after you wash away the suds. Consuming soap can have serious adverse effects on your health, so please never put it on your food. 

Also, please never use bleach to get rid of pesticides on your produce. Like soap, bleach residue will stick to your produce and make them toxic to eat. 

Could You Use Baking Soda To Wash Onions?

 baking soda in a glass jar scooped with a spoon

Like vinegar, baking soda is another pantry staple you could use to safely clean produce. Before you’re ready to eat your fruits or veggies, you can add them to a bowl of cool water and baking soda. According to Arm & Hammer, it’s best to use a ratio of one teaspoon of baking soda per two cups of water.   

Let this mix sit for at least 12 minutes before removing your produce and washing them with cold running water. Be sure to dry your produce thoroughly before using them.

If you don’t have the time to give your onions a baking soda bath, then you might want to keep an Arm & Hammer produce spray bottle nearby.

Find out more on this Amazon link.

How To Stop Onions Making You Cry?

Master chef cutting onion with tears in his eyes

The second you slice your first onion, you’ll set off an intricate chemical reaction that releases sulfur-containing gases. While this sulfur helps give onion its flavor, it also makes our eyes burn. Thankfully, there are a few kitchen hacks you could use to protect your peepers. 

The top-rated tip is pretty straightforward: pop your peeled onion in the fridge or freezer before chopping it. You can let your onions sit for hours in the refrigerator, but you should only leave them in the freezer for about 30 minutes. When you’re working with a cold onion, it shouldn’t sting your eyes as much. 

Another technique some people use is to place a piece of bread in their mouth while chopping onions. Supposedly, the bread is supposed to act as a sulfur sponge to prevent those gases from hitting your eyes. Hey, even if this method doesn’t work, at least you get a free snack! 

Lastly, there are a few onion goggles now on the market designed for professional chefs. If you go through a ton of onions every week, then you might want to consider trying these stylish frames. 

Find out more on this Amazon link. 

So, Is Washing Onions Worth The Hassle? 

It’s unnecessary to wash onions if you’re going to cook them, but it’s a good idea to do so if you’re eating them raw. Although onions aren’t as prone to pesticides or germs, they can still have germs, dirt, or icky chemicals. Giving your onions a quick wash before chopping is a simple way to stay super healthy.  

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