Onion Turning Green: Have The Onions Gone Bad?

onion turning green
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Onion Turning Green

Onions are a must-have in every kitchen but it’s not a very simple one to use. This is because there are different types of onions and all of them have slightly different flavors. Some are mild and sweet while others are more pungent.

Onions can be stored for a long time so they are a vegetable you can buy in bulk provided that you store them correctly. Many people have issues with their onions turning green so we’ve decided to address that issue here.

Onions Are Turning Green

Most cooks don’t realize that onions are actually modified, underground “leaves” that are only white because they grow in the darkness and are not exposed to sunlight. Once they have been dug out and exposed to light, they will produce chlorophyll (the green pigment in leaves).

The chlorophyll will then use the sunlight to produce food for the plant. So, this should straight away set your mind at ease. Unlike potatoes, which are toxic when they turn green, onions are still edible. The second reason behind the onion turning green might be genetics.

Frying onion into the pan
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This is because some onions are just more prone to develop green flesh. Remember, green onions are safe to consume. However, keep in mind that a higher chlorophyll percentage can affect the taste by increasing the bitterness.

This is why if you find a green shoot in the middle of your onion or garlic clove, it is better to discard it – not because it’s harmful, but because it’s a little bitter. Some onion varieties just have more green pigment such as young shallots, spring onions, leeks, and chives.

Fresh chopped onions on wooden cutting board
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It is perfectly acceptable and even recommended to eat the green parts as well.

Onions Turn Green With Cooking

In the above section, we talked about uncooked onions that are naturally green and the potential reasons. On the other hand, if the onions were red or white but turned green upon cooking, there is a different reason for this.

Keep in mind that the pigment in the onions acts as a litmus test and that some onions have a red color because they are naturally acidic. Such onions will turn green if they are placed in an alkaline environment.

Onion and slices in wood spoon for cooking.
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For instance, if you add onions while cooking beans, they may turn a little green because beans create an alkaline environment which results in color change. Again, these onions are perfectly safe to consume.

Have The Onions Gone Bad?

Whenever people spot green onions in their vegetable baskets, they become concerned that the onions have gone bad. You now know the reason for this. The green onions have not gone bad and are safe to consume. A bad onion will grow mold, become slimy or mushy, or develop a bad odor.

finely chopped onion on a dark surface
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How to Choose Onions When Purchasing

To prevent your onions from going green, you must buy ones in good condition, to begin with. Pick ones that feel heavy and firm with no signs of rot or softness. They should have dry papery skin around them that does not have any black mold on it.

different onions on wood
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There should be no green sprouting from the top of the onion.

How to Store Onions Correctly

Properly stored, onions can last for months without going green or bad. They should be kept unwashed, raw, and unpeeled in a cool, darl place. Between 40 and 50˚F is ideal. A basement, garage, or pantry are good places.

Try not to pile too many on top of one another and avoid humidity if possible as this leads to mold growth. It is better not to store them near potatoes. This is because onions produce ethylene gas, which will cause potatoes to spoil quicker.

onions in a wooden background
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If you have peeled and cut onions to store, put them into Ziploc bags or airtight containers in the fridge. They will keep it for about a week like this. They can also be blanched and frozen like this. You do not need to defrost them before using them in cooking.

Wrapping Up

We hope this article has set your mind at ease about your green onions. They are safe to eat and will not cause any harm.

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