Stocking onions

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Some braid 'em; some bunch 'em and tie with string; some cache 'em in a mesh sack. I string mine like beads. My harvested crop is onions; my storage container, several lengths of discarded nylon hose. My method is to drop the first onion into the toe of the stocking, rotate into place, and tie a knot. Then another and another is added, each tied in place until the top is reached.

Leaving two or three inches of nylon for the final knot, I then tie several strings together to loop over my hanging rod. By this simple method, each bulb is encased in an airy, see-through, readily accessible container. When I need an onion, I simply cut it from the bottom of the string.

To begin I wash the dirt from the roots, peel off damaged husks or skin, and dry in a cool spot out of direct sun. Before ``stuffing the stocking'' I sort the onions into various size groups according to my future cooking needs. For soups, dressings, and casseroles I like a fairly large onion. For adding to vegetable or meat dishes a medium size provides sufficient flavor. For boiling or chopping for salads, I select smaller bulbs, using a separate stocking for each size onion.

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A quick glance at my onion beads enables me to pick the right size for the daily need. It is easier and neater than rummaging in a smelly mesh sack. If one bulb deteriorates, it can be quickly removed without contaminating the remainder. After hanging a short time, the stocking will stretch with its enclosed weight. This enables me to cut well below each knot so as not to dislodge the rest in the string. The released onion simply falls into my hand.

Any convenient method of hanging the strings is usable. To conserve space I drove two nails into an unused door frame in the garage, looped the beads evenly over a mop handle, and balanced them on the supporting nails.

Some might prefer hanging the beads singly along a wall or suspending in a whole group from a ceiling hook. The choice is yours -- onion beads store well any place they're hung.

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