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How to String Onions

I was very pleased with my onion crop this year from my allotment. I bought my onion sets from Thompson and Morgan and chose Suttgarter for my white onions and Red Barron for my red. The crop was an outstanding success and some of the onions were 4 inches across!

Once the onion stems had flopped over I pulled them and left them on the ground to begin to dry, but then we had wet weather so I decided to take them home to dry. I stacked them on bakers trays so that the air could circulate around them and on dry days carried the trays into the garden to aid the drying process. Once the stems were completely withered and dry I knew they were ready to string.

You don’t have to string your onions but I find it the best way to store them. They can be hung in a garage or shed and you can just take one off as you need. This is only my second year of having Lottie yet I already knew how to string onions. And this is because it was one of my jobs as a child. Dad would hang bailer twine on a nail in the barn and I was ready to go. I actually remember enjoying this job. There is something strangely satisfying about it.

So where do you begin? I like to tidy the onions up first, this involves removing any loose skins or debris. Discard any onions that are soft or have any signs of rot. Your onion string will look nice and tidy if you do this first.

Next just as my dad did I find a nail or a hook to hang the string on so that I can add the onions. So taking a length of garden string and making a loop at one end, this will be the top. Hang the loop on the nail or somewhere that’s a good height to work. Be mindful that the string will be quite heavy, so make sure the nail or hook will take the weight. I usually work in size order and pick the largest onion first.

Take the stem and fold it over so it doubles back on itself. This will make it nice and strong. Wrap the string around the folded stem and tie a good strong knot. This will now keep the string taught with the weight of the onion on it.

Now take your next onion and hold it close to the string but upside down, so stem pointing down and bulb about. Offer the stem up to the string and the hold in place with your thumb and spin the bulb around the string several times above it. Once you have done this let the bulb drop down and carefully slide the onion down the string until it sits on top of the first onion. The weight of the onion will stop it unwinding.

Take your next onion and repent the process, you will find as you continue that there becomes a natural gap for the next onion to sit in and so continue until your string is the size you desire or all onions are strung.

Now if you want them to look extra tidy you can trim and ends of stems off and suddenly it looks rather smart! As you become more practiced you will be able to judge how much stem you need and can trim them before stringing. It just takes a little time and practice. I have in the past plaited onions but it never looks as tidy and they are harder to remove when required. Providing your onions are stored in a cool dry place they will last you through the whole of the winter. You can just take one as needed!

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Meet Sue & Katie

Two women. Two generations. Both mothers and lovers of the county where they live. Blogging about Dorset here at Dorset Country Life. Find out more...

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