Are you often in a hurry to prepare a meal that requires fresh onion? No worries! The caked onion powder is a quick way of replacing fresh onion. All you need is to know is how to soften onion powder that comes in a caked frozen state.
The dehydrated onion is as good as a fresh onion with only a little less intensity in flavor. The reason for hardening is due to the absorption of moisture. The hardening results in information of clumps that needs breaking. The solid form turns to powder if softened properly.
In this article, we would like to show the method of softening dehydrated onion powder.
What is Caked Onion Powder?
As fresh onion does not last long, it is dehydrated and powdered for later use. Dehydration helps dry the fresh onion. The dehydrated onion powder clumps when exposed to moisture and humidity by absorbing water. Further, the protein and carbohydrate also dissolve making the granules of powdered onion stick together adding to the clumps.
This goes by the name of hardened or caked onion powder. Onion powder serves as a seasoning in food dishes, such as pizza, pasta, grilled chicken, and beau monde seasoning. When we talk about onion salt seasoning, we refer to preparation with dried powder onion with salt.
Why Do You Need to Soften Onion Powder?
As the dehydrated onion powder absorbs moisture, it forms lumps and no longer, remains in powder form. To use the onion powder in the food, it is necessary to measure the amount and apply it. The clumps need separation in the original form for adding to the dishes as a seasoning.
Why Does Onion Powder Harden?
Onion powder can sometimes harden or clump together due to its hygroscopic nature. Hygroscopic substances have a tendency to absorb moisture from the surrounding environment, and onion powder is no exception. When exposed to air, the powder can absorb water vapor, which causes the individual particles to stick together and form clumps.
The process of hardening or clumping is similar to what happens with table salt or sugar when left in a humid environment. As the moisture is absorbed, it creates a sticky layer around the particles, causing them to bind together. This effect can be more pronounced in onion powder compared to other dried herbs or spices due to the high moisture content of onions.
To prevent onion powder from hardening, it’s essential to store it in a cool, dry place, and ideally in an airtight container. This helps minimize its exposure to moisture in the air and keeps it in a loose, powdery form, making it easier to use in recipes. If your onion powder has already hardened, you can break up the clumps by crushing it with a fork or using a mortar and pestle before using it in your cooking.
How to Soften Onion Powder
The hard onion powder needs softening before use for seasoning food. Softening of the powder is possible in the following way:
Take the solid caked onion and pour it into a flattened bowl. Use a fork or wooden spoon to break the powder. Press continuously by punching releases itself. Pour back this powder into the container it came in.
Add about 6 to 10 g of uncooked rice to the jar of onion powder. The white rice will absorb the moisture of the powder onion. This will reduce further clumping. You may use the required onion powder from the soft portion.
Close and tighten the lid. Store the jar in a dry and cool place to avoid further caking.
Remove the clumps in a bowl. Pour the broken cake in a tea strainer with a bowl underneath. You may use your knife to break it into smaller pieces. Strain the ground powder and put it back in the jar. Add white rice, cover the lid tight and store in a cool dry place.
Empty parts of the uncaked onion in small seasoning jars.
Store with Moisture Absorbers such as silica gel, desiccant packs. These absorb moisture. You may also use arrowroot powder as a desiccant.
How to Prevent Dehydrated Onion Powder From Caking?
You do not have to waste dehydrated onion powder if they clump. Here are some methods of keeping dehydrated onion powder and prevent clumping so you can use it the whole year.
1. Condition the Dehydrated Powder
Most dried products love to rest in low humidity conditions, perhaps around 20%. When buying from the store, they may not have been in the most appropriate humid condition. Therefore, it is best to condition it before you store the dehydrated onion powder.
Conditioning is letting the dried product reach the temperature of the room. To get it well conditioned, shake the bottles now and then for about a week. You will find moisture on the outside of the bottle due to condensation. Shake and let all moisture dry before storing.
2. Use Airtight Containers for Storage
Always store dehydrated onion or any other spices in an airtight container. It is not a good idea to store in zip-lock bags or bottles, which allow moisture to enter.
Airtight containers may be of the following types.
- Glass jars having fitting lids. These include canning jars, recyclable food jars.
- Mylar bags
- Kilner jars having rubber sealed lids
- Vacuum seal bags
- Some airtight plastic containers
As light also affects by breaking down the dehydrated products, always store in a dark, dry, and cool place.
3. Use Desiccants or Moisture Absorbers
To keep the product dry, use food-safe moisture absorbers, such as silica gel, desiccants available in pouches. If the jar is opened quite often, the absorbers will keep the product dry by absorbing the air moisture.
4. Use of Arrowroot Powder
Arrowroot powder prevents the clumping of powder spices like onion and garlic. This is a natural, edible product, so it is not harmful. Using a teaspoon in a 1-pint-sized jar to the ground product is enough to keep the onion powder-free from moisture accumulation and clumping. An alternative is cornstarch.
5. Rehydrating the Powder
The other method to keep your powder dry is to re-dry. It is simple to do. Pour the powder in parchment paper or a non-stick tray. Cover it with a net. You may also dry in an oven under low. Cool to room temperature before storing.
6. Oven Drying
Dehydrated oven-dried onion can be preserved for grinding on demand. The dehydrated unground product stays longer than the powder form. The onion is ground to powder only on the need of the recipe. Small ground portions can be stored in containers for daily use.
Some tips in using dehydrated onion
While cooking you need to take some care in using dry onion. Measure the amount needed with a measuring spoon, and gently add to the hot pan on the stove. Do not use your shaker to shake in the powder directly to the pan. This will cause moisture to enter the bottle and create clumps.
It is also advisable that you do not heat the oil in the pan too high. It will burn the dried onion and spoil the taste.
Using dehydrated onion powder is a quick way of cooking seasoned food, like pasta, pizza. With the use of the techniques mentioned, the dehydrated powder becomes hard and the cake can be broken and uncaked. Application of techniques of conditioning helps enhance the keeping quality. Besides, if your dehydrated onion powder form as a cake you can use the above techniques to soften and preserve onion powder for use all over the year.