Onion Powder always hardens to cement in my pantry!

granjanNovember 20, 2008

It's true I rarely use it, it's only there for the occasional spice blend recipe. I know it's not fresh; I'm sure it's the "new jar" I got when we remodeled the kitchen 5 years ago! But the garlic powder is fine, why does the onion powder become a rock? I'd be willing to buy a new jar if someone could tell me how to keep it soft enough to measure.

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I just threw away a jar two nights ago!! I wanted to dust some on some croutons I was baking from the last of my pumpernickel loaf.

I even jabbed at it with a toothpick through the top, but only succeeded in breaking the toothpick.


    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 6:25PM
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I have the same problem so I don't buy it very often. I take off the plastic grate from the top and poke it hard with a small sharp knife (or a clean screwdriver !!) to loosen it up but I could never figure out how to stop it from getting hard in the first place.


    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 6:44PM
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Switch to garlic powder....no0 one will know.
Linda C

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 6:51PM
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The garlic powder may have a free-flow agent in the jar while the onion powder doesn't. Free-flow agents are food-safe dessicants designed to absorb moisture and prevent clumping. If you look at the ingredients on a box of Morton's salt you'll see what I mean.


    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 7:13PM
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I recycle "silica pillows" (aka moisture absorber, dessicant packs) from bottles of supplements and stick them the jars that don't have the free-flowing agent in them. SPIKE seems to be the worst for me. -Grainlady

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 7:33PM
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Cool Idea grainlady! I would have never thought of that. I was thinking some dry rice like they do with the salt shakers in a lot of places.


    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 7:38PM
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That's a wonderful idea, I actually have saved lots of them since Alice Medrich told me to to store with meringues! I think I'll go buy a new jar just to see if it works. And Linda most recipes want both onion and garlic powder. I think doubling the garlic might be overkill.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 8:28PM
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I do the same as Grainlady. I keep the moisture absorbers from vitamins, supplements, etc. I use them with a lot of the spices I order online. They're pretty helpful.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 8:32PM
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In the "old" days, it was always suggested to put in raw rice to absorb moisture. Sometimes could even see it in the salt shakers in restaurants. Wonder if that would work for on. powder. My garl. powder clumps, too.


    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 8:36PM
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It's just one more reason to use fresh onion and fresh garlic. Those are basic to so much cooking. The powders seem a poor substitute. For efficiency in prep work, maybe keep a few days supply chopped and stored in the fridge.


    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 9:24PM
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I've used the silica packs too, but.... the main reason that happens is because we tend to shake the ingredient into/over a steamy hot pot. That's where it picks up the moisture from. If you take the shaker top off and use a spoon to dish it out into the pot, you'll find your onion powder stays soft. Or just pour it into your palm and put in pot.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 10:32PM
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David... I came on here to say I had an aunt that used to put rice in the salt and I wondered if that would work for this too. You beat me to it! I just ran to the kitchen (what other forum would have is members running to the kitchen at almost 11 pm to read their bottle of onion powder?) to see if mine had any ingredients to "make free flowing". The onion powder and garlic do not, but the lemon pepper does.

Mine never gets hard, though I've had other spices that have and I've had to dig around with a knife to get it loose.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 10:43PM
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The problem with using fresh in the spice blends is that you then have a product that needs freezing, or refrigeration if you make more than you need for the one recipe. I never use the powders in regular cooking so they aren't getting damp and steamy over a pot!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 4:53PM
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I never use onion powder so am not familiar with the problem. I do keep onion flakes and they never clump. Perhaps you could sub with these or pulverize them as you need them. I use the dry onion when I'm in a hurry or just run out of onions which happens often no matter how much I buy. The silica packets also sound like an excellent solution.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 12:45AM
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Once your onion powder has turned into an onion rock, you can whack it with a hammer or cleaver and then put the chunks into a spice grinder or mini food processor to be able to use it.

Jim, I tend to prefer fresh as well, but, there are things for which the dried onion or garlic powder are preferable. For example, if I am making a last minute salad dressing, fresh onion or garlic can be too "hot". I also prefer them for dry rubs, in preparation for the barbecue or rotisserie.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 9:38AM
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Wacking it is exactly what it needs, the problem is getting it out of the jar! I never use a knife, don't want to ruin or break the point on a paring knife. I usually use a screwdriver, believe it or not. It's narrow enough to fit in the jar and thick enough not to bend or break. Once I get some out it usually pulverises with no problem.

Onion flakes could also be a good idea.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 5:29PM
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My onion powder hardens the same as everyone (almost) else's. But my garlic powder doesn't - because I keep it in the freezer. Works like a champ. But it doesn't work for onion powder. And the funny thing is that the expiration date on my latest bottle of onion powder is 2 years from now.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 2:04PM
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If anyone still wants to know, you can add a dried bean or two to the shaker. Or so I hear. I have the same problem and had checked around.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 3:46PM
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If you combine it with dried parsley or chive (or some other dried herb of your choice), it will cling to the herb and be less likely to form a hard clump. I only use it when I make Cajun seasoning, and once it is mixed with the herbs in that, it does not get hard.


    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 5:54PM
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I don't have onion powder but I bought some shallot salt from Penzey's and returned it when it turned to stone. The next one did the same thing. Finally, I gave up.
\ Annie

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 5:56PM
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I was reading through these and was thinking "mine never hardens" then I saw a post by coconut that said that most people shake it above a pot of steaming food and then I realized why mine does not get hard, I don't do that! I just take a spoon and spoon it out and I'm usually standing over the counter. Try that, see if that keeps the onion powder from hardening.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 6:39PM
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I use quite a bit of onion powder. Enough to run out of it. Now, when I need some, I just grind some dehydrated onion flakes in the mortar & pestle. The flakes grind really easily. One less container to store by not buying more.

Onion powder is nice in seasoned flour when you dredge meats...that & refried beans are my main two uses for it.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 7:29PM
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I saw this thread and thought Granjan was back for a moment.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 10:56PM
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When my onion powder clumps up, I don't throw it away.
I poke at the container with something sharp and throw
those broken pieces in my next batch of soup, they

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 1:26PM
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Has anyone tried the 'cover opening with a paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds or more'? My chili powder is clumped and I'm fairly certain I shook out some over a steaming pot.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 2:16PM
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Lindac, unfortunatley, I WOULD notice the difference if garlic powder was used instead of onion powder, as I am allergic to garlic.

I bought new onion powder from the bulk food store a few months ago, in a plastic lidded container,and it was hard the second time I tried to use it, after having used a spoon, not shaking it over the pot. I don't know how to fix it.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 5:22PM
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Just put a teaspoon of raw rice in each shaker. The rice helps absorb the moisture.
I have recently seen this tip posted in one of the sites.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 3:01AM
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I know when I lived in Hawaii the rice trick was used to keep things flowing - sugar, salt, etc.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 9:40AM
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I just tried microwaving as janicedallas and other websites suggest. After 30-60 seconds, It did soften the garlic "rock" enough to get it out of the jar. What came out looked like garlic paste, but much thicker and goey. So I microwaved the paste for a couple minutes more. Big mistake. Kitchen now filled with overwhelming garlic smell and bowl with past is smoking. Well not quite burnt, but some vapors coming off that are so strong I can't breathe in the kitchen. So beware.

I'll try the rice trick when I get a fresh batch and try to remember to report back. Or I've been saving those little silica gel packets, knowing I'll have a use for them someday. Now if I can find them...

BTW, I have the hardening problem with both powder and salt versions of both garlic and onion. I don't think I hold the jars over steaming sauces, and while some spices are over the stove, these aren't. so I suspect normal humidity sneaks into the jars, even though I keep the lids tight. They are used jars (I buy spices in bulk, and ounce or so at a time). Maybe I'll try some kind of jar with a really good seal--maybe a canning jar & lid? Or one of those containers for coffee that sucks the air out.

One last note. I've tried grinding the garlic/onion "rocks" in a blender. It's messy but it works--I get a nice powder. But within a short time it is rock again. I even tried warming the ground powder gently to drive out any moisture--it still hardens.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 9:52PM
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Every time I use my onion powder, I always think about this thread...HA! It is NEVER hard. I'm not sure why. I keep it in the cabinet in it's original packaging and I don't ever shake it over a pot of hot steamy food.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 10:36PM
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I have started using onion powder when making bread and have found it a good way to use up a container before it can get hard. I tried using fresh onion in bread, and that did not work very well until I pureed the fresh onion in water, but I find the onion powder a more convenient (and totally acceptable) way of getting onion flavor into bread. I also like to sprinkle onion powder onto cracker dough before I bake it.

My problem with powders now is tomato powder, and I found a tomato powder mixed with salt that does not get hard, but I really would prefer it without salt.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 3:42AM
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We have this problem with garlic SALT. (Garlic powder and onion powder usually don't have this problem because I use them up quickly. Not so, with garlic salt.)

Hubby takes an ice pick and pokes at it until it powders-up again. Next time I get a silica pack, I'll give it a try. Thanks!


    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 3:17PM
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I keep it in the freezer along with Tones gravy powder. We don't have air conditioning and everything in the summer suffers if I don't take care of stuff.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 4:09PM
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