I have already posted a couple of times about the great onion, shallot and garlic harvest this year. We have been eating our way through the autumn sown crop from the polytunnel for some months, whilst the main crop has been left a while in the glasshouses to dry. This weekend we went through them, packing away all of the sound bulbs for winter use. This task could have been done a couple of weeks after harvesting, but there is an advantage to our tardiness: those few bulbs that would otherwise have begun to rot in storage already show signs of softening or the development of moulds, so we can remove them easily before they have the chance to spread rot to the rest of the crop in store.
With so many to work through, it really is a bit of a chore. Each onion, shallot, or bulb of garlic is inspected carefully, and, if found to be entirely sound, the withered and dried stalk is cut, about an inch or so above the bulb. It is definitely worth taking the time to grade them at this stage, putting any aside that might be even slightly suspect, or those with thick necks, which tend to store less well, for earliest consumption. Of course, those with the time and inclination can make handsome strings from their onions, and these do look great whilst allowing air to circulate freely. Ours, though, will be stored in the usual onion sacks; this is not perhaps as good as making strings, but still allows them to breathe, which is important for keeping them in good condition. They will be stored in one of the outbuildings, which provide a fairly cool and airy environment. If necessary, they, and any other stored produce, will be kept frost free over winter with an electric heater. Hopefully, we will remember to go through them from time to time to remove any that develop problems later in storage, as rots can readily be transmitted to adjacent bulbs.
Interestingly, when going through the polytunnel crop, some of the onions had already begun to deteriorate, which is not entirely surprising, although most remained in good condition, but the French Jermor shallots were all entirely sound, and in their just harvested condition. As I favour these for most culinary purposes anyway, especially when they achieve a good size, I shall certainly be planting more of these shallots and fewer of the overwintering Japanese onions.