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Monday, November 20, 2023

Rule #1 for Good Stewardship of Food Supplies

Use the foods that look like they will spoil before using the pristine items. 

My chore yesterday and today was to preserve the onions that looked like they wouldn't last too much longer before beginning to go soft. 

In late September or early October, I bought a 50-lb bag of yellow onions. I wasn't feeling great that day and didn't take the time to look over the bags. I simply pointed to one and asked my daughter to load it onto our trolley. When I got it home, I discovered that several of the onions had developed a powdery surface mold. We'd had quite a bit of rain in the preceding weeks. So I assume some of the onions sat out in the wet at some point. For the most part, the insides of the most affected onions looked okay. With the very worst of them, I peeled off the outer part and chopped the inner, good part to freeze in a large bag. I'll use these onions when the fresh ones are gone. 

A month later, I checked the onions in the cool storage room and found about 10 that needed using or preserving right away. I decided to make onion powder out of these. 

Over the weekend, I washed, peeled and began to chop the 6 largest onions. As I chopped the onions, I filled my dehydrator trays. One mistake I made was to dice the first 3 onions. After loading the trays and moving them to the dehydrator, I realized that the onion dices were falling through the openings in the tray. For the next 3 onions, I quarter sliced them, hoping fewer pieces would fall through the slots.

Anyway, the onion dices are now dry and the slices are soon to be dry.  I will finishing drying the slices in the oven to speed things along.

I decided to just do the dices in the oven along with the slices. Here's what a large jelly roll pan of 6 large onions, mostly dried, looks like.

Oh my goodness! I was taking care of something else and was smelling something really, really yummy coming from the kitchen. I had turned the oven up to 225 F after a few minutes at 200 F. I overdid the onions a bit! They're browned but not burned, thankfully. When I dry onions again, I'll make sure to not leave the kitchen and set a timer!

We make mistakes, and then we learn.

After sifting through the dried onions for pieces that felt not-quite dried (setting aside to add to the green bean casserole on Thursday),  I "powdered" the browned onions in my food processor. 

I'm telling myself I have gourmet onion powder. Anyone can go to the store and buy regular old white onion powder. Mine has been browned. Ha ha.

So you may be wondering why I went to the trouble to dry and powder onions. I like the depth of flavor you get when adding onion powder to a dish that already contains fresh onions. It's simply richer, in my opinion.

I find that in the fall I play catch-up with several different produce items. Apples always go soft and wrinkly long before we've used them all. I made applesauce with the soft ones a couple of weeks ago, leaving the better ones to use later. Pumpkins sooner or later develop soft spots, necessitating immediate processing. Those 3 large pumpkins I mentioned cooking and pureeing before my oral surgery? I didn't process those because I was being efficient and getting ahead of the game. No, I noticed soft spots on those 3 and absolutely had to cook them before I lost them altogether. These are the large, jack o'lantern pumpkins that I bought in late October.  I still have the remaining good 2 pumpkins in cool storage. I can wait to do something with those for another week or maybe two. Potatoes will also go wrinkly, soft, and begin to sprout at some point later in the fall or early winter. I will need to sort through those and use the worst of them in December. 

With the onions, while it would make for pleasant cooking experiences to just use the best looking ones right now, it makes for better stewardship of our supplies to use what will go bad first. I will use more and waste less by using food items in this order, worst condition first, best condition last.

My big chore is done for the day. I have a pumpkin and chicken soup cooking on the stove for dinner. And now I'm resting for the remainder of the afternoon. I went too long before taking more pain relievers and now I'm waiting for this dose to kick in. A piece of dark chocolate should help. 

Thanks for reading along. Enjoy the rest of your day and evening, friends!


  1. I try to not let food go to waste, but depending on what else is going on, I am more or less successful with the process. I will say that I probably wouldn't have put that much effort into drying onions. However, my husband does not like onions, so we don't use very many. As soon as the Thanksgiving rush is over, we have several bags of apples in the fridge that need attention. I really like apples, so I hope they are still good. I admire how you do your best to use every part of the food you grow (and buy).

  2. That's interesting that you have noticed better depth of flavor by combining onion powder with fresh onions.

    I'm generally good about using up produce but sometimes it gets away from me. I no longer buy celery because so often, it would go bad. We aren't huge fans of it, anyway, so we don't miss it.

  3. Glad to "see" you seem to be feeling a lot better, Lili. I chop and freeze onions but I always double bag them so the smell is more contained. I have purchased 50 lbs onions in the past for freezing but I don't think I will do that anymore. It's just the two of us for the most part and it is much easier to buy a cheap bag of onions when I need them. I might try making onion powder sometime because I like the idea of homemade since we also love the flavor of onions in everything savory.

    Kris, I have the same issue with celery but I now parboiled sliced celery and freeze those also for soups and any other cooked meal that could use celery. We're not fans of eating raw celery so in the freezer they go.


    1. That would work, if I actually did it. I foresee myself having good intentions but not following through. :)


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