In-Depth Guide on How To Tell If Green Onions Are Bad

Green onions, or scallions, are one of the most common ingredients used in the culinary world. In almost any culture, there will be at least one recipe that demands these veggies. To add-in, green onions are widely used in various methods of cooking.

It can top over a fried chicken dish, sprinkle in soup pots, add to the noodles to raise the aroma, etc. With plenty of functions, green onion has become a must-have ingredient in any family. However, suppose that you over-bought green onions but still don’t have any plan to use them for many weeks later, then in what way could you know if the veggies are slowly rotting, right?

In this article, let’s find the answer to the question: “How to tell if green onions are bad?” and later learn about the proper food storage method for a long period. No need to waste your time, let’s jump to the first section.

How To Tell If Green Onions Are Bad?

How To Tell If Green Onions Are Bad


Smell is the first factor to help you recognize whether the green onions are bad or not. At first glance, you can definitely find out if the scallions have already rotted or not by their distinctive stinky smell.

Green, regular onions, just like other herbs like foie gras and coriander, have a neutral, so-so aroma that we find it hard to attach the term because there is no distinctive scent, though!

That being said, when you can notice a strange, rotten fragrance from this plant, the answer is obvious: that onion should be in the waste bin right away because it can be poisoning!


As its name indicates – “green” onion – the fresh scallions always have the signature greenish, verdant color. So, if the scallions suddenly change their color, then there may be some problems going on with it.

Based on our experience, most green onions will slowly turn yellowish or brownish if not being fresh and “healthy”. There are many reasons behind that change: over weeding, overwatering, poisoning, bacteria-exposed, etc.

Whatever the reason is, the brown or yellow onion shows that it is unhealthy and may start rotten if not receiving proper treatment.


Onion molds are another factor on the list. Typically, whenever you buy fresh green onions from the market, there will always be some black, or brown spots on the first outer layer of onion strands.

Contrary to people’s concern, these black spots are just a sign of fungus from the soil that is attached to the onion strips while it grows up.

It is so simple to resolve the case: just cut out these areas and wash the plants again, that’s it. Hence, later, if you see black spots on scallions, don’t quickly judge these leaves are bad.

However, if there are repetitively dark spots on multiple outer layers of the strand, then the case is another story. As someone said, “Once is just a mistake, but many may prove that there is a problem.”.

If you notice that there are just too many black spots, it’s better to discharge that plant.

Onion Juice

If you have ever chopped down an onion, you must realize that there is always a special white liquid coming out from the food. People may think that it is just water extracting, but this onion juice is so important to define if the onion goes bad or not.

To be specific, this liquid, made from natural sugars and starches from inside the onion, looks milky, fruity and tastes bitter. So, if you see the white juice extracted from an onion, then it has proved that the onion is totally at the “normal” status.

However, if the liquid coming out is not milky, white, and juicy as illustrated above, then you should check out the scallions to see whether any spoilage happens.

How Long Do Green Onions Last In The Fridge?


Like other fresh vegetables, scallions need a cool, dry storage environment with appropriate temperature for longer freshness. However, it is hard to provide a brief, concise answer to how long these veggies last in the fridge without further information on its status.

If the green onions are kept in the refrigerator in the normal fridging heat range, right after purchasing and removing the roots, without taking in and out of the fridge many times – then the green onions can be stored for more than 10 days to 2 weeks.

In case the green onions are stored in a sealed ziplock bag without any water drop remaining, then its fridge life can even extend up to 3 weeks or a month. If you tend to keep the scallions for a longer period, then we advise you to freeze green onions so that the shelf life can last from 10 to 12 months.


In the previous section, we discuss the green onion’s fridge life in terms of time. However, among these three factors, the temperature is what can directly and seriously influence the longevity of green onions.

The typical heat range for storing food in a household is from 37 to 40 degrees F (0 to 4 degrees C). If having proper storage during this range, then the onion can last for half a month, as mentioned above.

If you want to delay the shelf life to a few months but remain in the typical heat range in the fridge, then covering onions in papers or towels can help.

However, the most effective storing method for veggies is freezing them. The procedure is similar to fridging: wash the onions, remove roots and edges, wipe out water, store in air-tight containers, and put in the freezer with an ideal temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Protective Outer Layer’s Status

Unlike other food, when storing green onions, it’s a must to pay attention to the protective layers’ status. Without these important outer layers, the quality of onion leaves can change completely.

To be specific, every onion strand has some outer layers to “protect” its core. The more layers a strand has, the older it is. However, the coating also works as a “shield” to avoid dehydration and bacteria from the environment.

So, if the strand’s layer is broken or accidentally cut, then that strip will have a higher chance of dehydrating and rotting quickly.

As a result, if you see any of your green onion leaves have lost the outer layer, then quickly store it in the fridge or freezer to stop the rotting process. For the entire onions, there is no need to worry about this incident.

How To Store Green Onions


There are many different methods for green onion storage. In this article, we will introduce you to the most common way, recommended by a lot of experienced cooks, both professional and amateur: sandwiched green onions with tissue and an air-tight container (or bag).

Here are what you have to prepare for this procedure: fresh green onions, a big air-tight bag, a knife, 3 to 4 pieces of thick, leathery tissue.

Step By Step

After having all ingredients and equipment mentioned above, now let’s start!

Step 1:

Remove all rubber bands, if available, on the green onions. Typically, when buying scallions from the local wet market, sellers will provide you green onions tightened in rubber bands, so please pay attention to that. Then, wash each green onion strand carefully under fresh water.

Step 2:

Use a sharp knife in your kitchen to cut all onions’ roots off. Many people usually ignore this step, but it is the most important stage because the root is where moisture will extract, and if you forget to remove the root, the onions will quickly be dehydrated and turn bad.

Step 3:

Trim off the edges of veggies until it fits the ziplock bag. When cutting, if there is water remaining on the onions’ strip, gently wipe them down with a paper towel.

Step 4:

Cover the green onions with a tissue. Please choose big tissues so that they can fully cover the onion strands. Typically, we use about five pieces to coat the “green” part and two pieces to top up the “white” part. Then, put the fully-covered onions into a big ziplock bag.

Step 5:

Seal the bag with a professional sealer machine. In case you don’t have one, don’t worry. Just place one finger in the middle of the pack, pressure the bag to pull out all the air inside, and quickly tighten the open zip of the bag.

Here is the essential step of the whole procedure: weekly check-up on the onions. Please take it seriously!

After a week, it’s advisable to open the ziplock bag, take out the scallions green, wipe down moisture remaining, and remove bad onion strands if needed. Consequently, repeat the previous procedure: cover green onions in a dry, thick, sterile paper towel, re-put it in the zip bag, then refrigerate.

Tips For Keeping Onions Fresh

  • If available, wrap each onion strand in a different tissue to avoid humidity among onion strips.
  • Seal the containing bag tightly not to allow any air to go inside
  • Remove the root before washing and storing the onion for the first time.
  • Discharge bad onions weekly to ensure the rooted bacteria won’t expose to other strands and affect the quality of the onion.
  • The best environment is a cool, dark place between 45 to 55 Fahrenheit degrees.
  • Place the storing bag at the top racks, or put it over other foods and items in the fridge to not damage the fragile onion strands.


How To Dry Green Onions?

There are six steps that you should do to dry scallions. First, turn on the dehydrator machine up to 95 Fahrenheit (35 Celsius degree), then let it warm up. While the dehydrator is activating, cut off root ends of all the green onions strands, and wash it carefully.

Next, trim the onions’ edges and slice them into small pieces. Finally, put all sliced onions into the dehydrator, set the heat at exactly 95 Fahrenheit, and wait for 3 to 5 hours.

What part of the green onion do you use?

The green onions are so useful and widely preferred because of its versatility. From top to bottom, from the white rings to the green “leaves”, the part of the veggies can be chosen to make tasty foods.

For example, the white rings alone are extremely delicious when dried with breadcrumbs, and eat with mayonnaise – chili sauce. To add-in, the white parts, when nestled with fish sauce, make a bizarre appetizer for some Indochina dishes.

Likewise, the sliced onions can complement any hot, healthy, juicy soup to start a day. And, do you know what is the best combination with sliced onions when making hot soup? The chili. Few onion strands, some pieces of chili, and the soup will be so unique, so savory, so spicy, causing the pleasure that only spice can provide.

How To Cut Green Onions

How to cut green onions

Most people think that cutting thin greens like scallions and thyme is so easy that it doesn’t even need a tutorial. However, that is a wrong perception. Without proper technique, the greens can be spoiled, bruised, or lost its savor.

Step 1:

Discharge any layers of the onions that seem bad and wilted

Step 2:

use a large, sharp knife in the kitchen to cut out the root ends and the white rings in case it is too rough

Step 3:

Lining up greens, and slowly slicing them into small items.

If you have a high knife-using technique, then you can also try the circular motion when chopping down the scallions for a faster cutting pace.

Final Thoughts

Through this article, we have discussed how to tell if green onions are bad, how long do onions sit out in the fridge, and then figured out the best way to store green onions for a long time. There are many techniques to maintain these foods fresh, and the method we pick out is chosen as the most effective by most experienced cooks.

Besides, here are three important components that influenced the storing progress of green onion, which are: time, heat, and protective layer. Please be aware that even if only one element goes out of the standard, the green onion can turn rotted quickly.

We hope this article provides you with new insights into your grocery shopping. Thank you for reading, and enjoy your happy family meal!

Kevin Richard

Hi all! I’m Kevin. I spend plenty of time in the kitchen every day because I love cooking healthy and delicious foods for my family and friends. Cooking gives me a chance to be creative and fun. It’s also one of the most meaningful ways to express my love and take care of my little family.

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