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Canning Onions- How & Why- A Basic Canning Tutorial
We’re only a family of three, but we’re probably in the top tier of household onion consumption. It’s pretty easy to do when you cook from scratch 90 meals out of 100. From soups to chili to stir fry to breakfast scrambles to homemade pickles- onions show up in my cooking a few days a week. Fortunately for me, onions aren’t just delicious, they are also inexpensive and good for you too.Jump to Recipe
How are onions good for you
For some reason, I’d looked up the calorie content of an onion, but had never looked further down the page to find the actual nutrient content. It turns out that onions are not only high in fiber, but are also rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals.
According to the USDA, 100g of raw onion contains 23 mg of calcium, 29 mg phosphorus, 146 mg of potassium, 7 mg of vitamin C, 6 mg of choline, and 17 micrograms of folate. (Check out that chart here)
Of course, that’s not all. Onions are rich in all sorts of antioxidants too- the best known of which is called “quercetin.” Quercetin is an anti-inflammatory, that could help with all sorts of inflammatory conditions.
The National Onion Association (yes- that exists) has a good description of the health benefits of onions & their nutrients. They also include links to studies on onions and quercetin in helping with diabetic symptoms, blood pressure, and even links between allium consumption and reduced cancer risk. (Allium is the family of vegetables that onions and garlic both belong to) (You can check out their website here)
After learning all of that, I haven’t necessarily had to increase my onion consumption, but I have definitely considered the possible health benefits as I slice up another one.
Where & how to use onions
Okay, the “Too long didn’t read” (TLDR) answer of where to use onions is “everywhere and anywhere.”
The better answer is that there are few savory dishes that won’t benefit from the addition of an onion.
I use an onion or 2 in every batch of soup that I make (a weekly affair). Onions are added to every crockpot meal too (chili, ham hocks, roasts, stew, chicken, more soup…) Fried rice, stir fry, fried potatoes, omelets, breakfast casserole, spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, meatballs, rice dishes… There’s no shortage of places to add an onion.
Of course, this is a post about how to can onions. Where do I use them?
(Almost) Everywhere that I would use a raw onion.
Home-canned onions will come out of the jar cooked. They’ll be soft and saturated in “onion juice”, but they’ll be totally cooked. So they can be added to any dish that doesn’t need a crisp or fried onion texture.
Think soups, stews, rice dishes, even crockpot dishes. The benefit of the canned onions in cooking, to me, is that it shortcuts the need to wait for the onions to cook. My 15 minute soup (no official recipe- yet) is a weeknight meal where I put an array of home canned goods in a stockpot, bring it to a boil, and then serve. Basically it’s a conglomeration of canned broth, canned chicken, canned beans, canned carrots, canned tomatoes, and canned onion- with a heap of spices and a splash of vinegar or soy sauce. Voila- soup.
Beyond the quickness of cooking with canned onions, they’re also useful in how they will prevent you from dirtying up another cutting board. Or in the case of omelets, dirtying up a cutting board and another pan. I’ve been a big fan of having these ready-to-go onions in my pantry this winter.
Why you should try canning onions
If my last paragraph didn’t get the tastebuds going and wheels turning, maybe this will help:
Canning onions is easy.
Canning onions is a time-saver.
Canning onions will prevent food waste.
Canning onions will save space in your pantry.
Canning onions will help you with cooking from scratch.
Basically, it’s an underappreciated kitchen hack. You can take it to the next level by canning a combination of onions, celery, carrots- or onions and bell peppers- or onions and broth- or onions and meat- or onions and beans. My point is that trying your hand at canning onions will prepare you for more home-canned meals and more cooking from scratch. (Both of which will invariably lead to healthier eating, saving money, and a deeper connection to your food)
The simple steps to canning onions…
You won’t believe how easy it really is to can onions. The TLDR instructions are “put onions in the jar, run the pressure canner.” How this looks in practice isn’t really much more complicated, but I’ll walk you through it.
Start by dicing your onions.
I won’t claim to do this correctly- but I start by chopping off each end. Then split lengthwise and peel. (Save those ends and peels for future broth making! The onion skins have a huge amount of the quercetin in them too.) Then cut each half horizontally, and dice vertically.
To make enough for a whole batch of jars, you’ll probably need to cut up 15 or so onions- but that’ll depend on the size of the onions and the size of your canner.
Once the onions are all diced, load your jars. You can add a bit of salt and butter to each jar if you want to too.
If you run out of onions, or just feel like getting creative, you can add spices, celery, bell pepper, carrots, etc to the jars too. They all have the same processing time. (In the same vein, you could also top the jars off with some broth for homemade onion soup)
With jars loaded (1” of headspace folks), add a lid and a ring, then load the jars in the canner.
Add a few quarts of water (as instructed in your canner manual), place a lid on the canner, and turn the stove onto high.
Let the pressure canner vent steam for 10 minutes, then add the weight.
Once the gauge is up to the correct pressure for your elevation, turn the stove down (to maintain that pressure) and set a timer for 40 minutes.
After 40 minutes, turn off the stove and let it depressurize on its own.
After everything’s cooled and you’ve checked the seals (and labeled the jars!), they’re ready for your pantry- and your cooking.
I told ya, it’s easy peasy!
I hope you’ll give canning onions yourself a try- it’s a great little project!
Thanks for reading & happy homesteading!
Canning Onions- A Basic Tutorial
- Pressure canner, rack, jar lifter, canning funnel
- Cutting board & Knife
- Towel, sharpie, etc. to label jars
- 15 Onions Approx
- Salt Optional
- Butter Optional
- Carrots, Bell Pepper, Celery, Etc. Optional
- Dice your onions (and any other vegetables that you'll be using)
- Fill the jars to 1" from the top (using the canning funnel will make this step much easier)
- Add the salt & butter- if wanted.(I would use 1/2tsp of salt and 1 tsp of butter per pint jar, adjust to your taste)
- Add the rings and lids to the jars, tightening the rings snugly.
- Load the jars into your canner, The jars can touch. Add water as instructed (3 qts in my Presto 23qt canner)
- Add the canner's lid- without the weight- and turn the stove onto high and bring to a boil.
- Let the canner vent steam for 10 minutes, then add the weight.
- Once the gauge has reached the appropriate pressure for your elevation, turn the stove down slightly to maintain this pressure.
- Let the jars cook under pressure for 40 minutes.
- After 40 minutes, turn off the stove and let the canner cool and depressurize on its own.
- After the canner is depressurized, use the jar lifter to remove the jars and arrange them on a towel-lined counter to cool for 12 -24 hours.
- After 12-24 hours, check the seals and label your jars. Store.