OnionsOnions have been cultivated and eaten since prehistoric times. They appeared in ancient Egyptian tomb paintings, The writings of Pliny and Juvenal (Roman authors)  tell us that onions were actually articles of worship in ancient Egypt. In ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, it was common for the common folk to consume them raw. 

A Turkish legend says that, when Satan was thrown out of heaven, garlic and onions grew where he placed his feet. There are many other myths about onions, including one that’s been floating around the Internet lately.  It claims that cut onion in a room can help a patient recover from the flu.  That’s closely related to a much older idea that cut onion left around the house would absorb germs and keep the residents healthy. Snopes.com debunks this one and many other onion myths.

Exactly what  vegetables should be called onions?  This is an area of some confusion. The name is sometimes applied to all members of the genus (family) Allium, which includes garlic, chives, shallots, and leeks.  Are all these onions?  Yes and no.  They are Alliums, but they are different species of Allium.  In the Q/As on onions on this site, the answers given apply only to Allium cepa (the globe-like bulb onion) unless the question indicates otherwise.

Onions Shelf Life
Onions, cured, whole2 weeks2 months1 year
Onions, sliced or diced- -3-4 days- -
Onions, cooked- -3 days- -
Precooked Onion Rings^- -- -1 year
Garlic1 month1-2 weeks1 month
Leeks- -1 weeks10-12 months
Green Onions (scallions)- -3-5 days- -
Shallots2 months1 month- -
Handling Tips: 
^ After manufacture date
The shelf life of these products is difficult to pinpoint because it depends upon when the vegetable was harvested, what type it is, and how it was stored before arriving at the store.
Onions, garlic, and shallots last longest in a cool (32-55degree F.), airy, low-humidity environment outside the fridge. In some climates and seasons the basement or garage is a good spot. Refrigeration (rather than room temperature storage) is next best choice.
Green onions, leeks, and chives need refrigeration. Because of heir high water content and large surface area, they can lose water quickly.
To freeze, chop onions first for best results.
Don't store onions near potatoes; the onions will absorb moisture from the potatoes.
Do not wash any produce until you’re ready to use it.
Boyer, Renee, and Julie McKinney. "Food Storage Guidelines for Consumers." Virginia Cooperative Extension (2009): n. pag. Web. 7 Dec 2009.

Food Marketing Institute with Cornell University, Initials. The Food Keeper: A Consumer Guide to Food Quality & Safe Handling, Retrieved from http://www.foodbankrockies.org/site/DocServer/TheFoodKeeper.pdf?docID=241

Susan Brewer, Ph.D. University of Illinois Department of Food Sciences and Human Nutrition

Harvesting and Storing Onions. Richard Jauron,Extension Horticulturalist Iowa State University. 7/27/2009. http://www.extension.iastate.edu/news/2009/jul/062201.htm

What’s Cooking America http://whatscookingamerica.net/Information?FreezerChart.htm

Texas Agricultural Extension Service Safe Home Food Storage www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/store/texas_storage.pdf

K State Research and Extension “Cupboard Storage Chart” http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/humannutrition/hrap/storage/cupstor.htm

Iowa State University Extension “Harvesting and Storing Onions” www.extension.iastate.edu/news/2009/jul/062201.htm

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