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Are Sprouted Onions Safe to Eat?

One part is safe to eat, the other is not.

If you’ve ever seen sprouted onions in your home, you’ve probably wondered whether they are still okay to eat. It would make sense, since other sprouted foods don’t necessarily have to be tossed out. Indeed, experts encourage us to eat sprouted garlic — and certain sprouted potatoes can also be consumed if you remove the sprouts.

Unfortunately, experts can’t say the same about sprouted onions. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), we should “reject cooking onions that have started to sprout or have soft or moist spots.”

If you’re feeling disappointed by this news, it’s worth noting that most people who have tried sprouted onions have said they’re not too tasty. According to Cook’s Illustrated, taste-testers of gently-cooked sprouted onions “found the sprouted alliums less sweet and flavorful” than un-sprouted ones.

The sprouts, on the other hand, are safe to eat. Those green shoots popping out of the bulb are actually scallions, which are edible. However, you may want to give them a taste test first. Some sprouted scallions may taste perfectly fine, while others may not. (Cook’s Illustrated described the sprouts as “unpleasantly bitter.”)

How To Prevent Onions From Sprouting

Here’s the good news: It’s pretty easy to prevent onions from sprouting in the first place. According to The National Onion Association, proper storage is key. Be sure to store onions in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area as soon as you get home from the grocery store. Ideally, your storage temperature will be somewhere between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. As tempting as it might be to wrap your onions in plastic, this will decrease the circulation and, thus, the onion’s shelf life. And another thing: Avoid storing onions near potatoes, or any other pieces of produce that release moisture.

If stored properly, your onions should be good to use for four weeks. But what if you already made a huge mistake with onion storage or forgot entirely about a batch of onions that is sprouting at this very moment? You can still save them: SFGate published an extensive how-to for planting sprouted onions so that none of your plantable bulbs have to go to waste again.

Now that you know how to make these alliums last longer, you can get the most out of onions around your home in ways that have nothing to do with cooking.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, First for Women.

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