Finding the Value in Value-Added Produce

Value-added produce is valuable. It seems like a no-brainer – after all, “value” is in the name. But there are many ways that value-added fresh produce can help businesses. From food safety, to reduced costs, to consistent quality, value-added is just that – super valuable.

Value-Add Number One: Save on Labor Costs

One of the most labor-intensive tasks in any commercial kitchen is prepping fresh produce. Prepping a raw bulk onion order is the perfect example. One 50 lb sack contains an average of 200 individual onions. That’s a lot of peeling, washing, and cleaning up – all before you even begin to dive into cutting.

That prep work takes manpower, and labor is a commodity that is getting increasingly harder to find. The United States is experiencing a nationwide labor shortage, and as minimum wage and other employee costs increase, retaining an adequate workforce is becoming more and more difficult. Value-added produce arrives sliced, diced, and ready-to-use, which saves businesses time and money. Instead of prepping onions, employees can dedicate time to other essential tasks.

Once you have a reliable workforce in place, you don’t want to lose them to injury. Cuts are the number one most common injury in commercial kitchens. Value-added fresh produce means less cutting and less risk.

Value-Add Number Two: Consistent Yield and Quality

When you purchase bulk vegetables, you can never be quite sure exactly what you are going to get. Did you know that a third of a sack of bulk onions is waste? That means you aren’t really getting 50 lbs of usable onion in that 50 lb sack.

On the other hand, when you buy value-added onions, you know exactly what you are going to get. Value-added onions arrive with consistent quality and consistent yield every time. When you buy a 30 lbs box of Gills Whole Peeled Onions, you get 30 lbs of ready-to-use onions.

Plus, the cost of value-added products doesn’t change by season or based on demand. That means you get the bonus benefit of consistent pricing, too.

Value-Add Number Three: Cleaner Kitchen

Unprepped, raw vegetables can bring unsanitary dirt and bacteria into your kitchen. Raw bulk onions are one of the worst offenders. Our testing shows that bulk onions can contain 100 to 1000 times more bacteria, yeasts, and molds than our value-added onions. The minute contaminants enter your kitchen, they can spread to other surfaces and foods.

Value-added produce increases your confidence that your kitchen, and the food leaving it, is clean and safe for everyone.

Ready, Get Set, Get Value-Added

At Gills Onions, we know that value-added fresh produce is one of the most valuable investments you can make. It improves nearly every aspect of foodservice, from the time ingredients arrive in your kitchen to the time someone eats your food. Value-added produce means less prep, less waste, more safety, and — if you’re using Gills Onions – more taste. So don’t wait. Start adding value to your business with value-added fresh produce today.

Ready to try onions grown “The Gills Way”? Contact our sales department to learn more. 

Our Year-Round Supply

The Secret to Storing Onions 

At Gills Onions, we deliver the best and freshest onions to our customers year-round, but we only harvest onions from April to November. What do we do the rest of the year? The answer is storage onions. Storing onions is an art. It’s one that we’ve perfected over many years with our special onion-growing prescription. It starts with seed selection and ends with a delicious onion arriving in your kitchen. And if we’ve done our job correctly, you’ll never be able to tell which onions are storage onions and which are coming to you in-season. 

Our Unique Approach

Storing onions isn’t unique to our operation. Onions are only harvested certain months of the year, but society uses onions all year long. The only way to keep supplying the onions is to store them. You’ve probably been using storage onions your whole life and simply never realized it. What does make Gills Onions unique is how we approach the storing process. Storage onions have to stay fresh for around six months in cold storage. The storage season starts in September or October each year and extends all the way until April. That’s why seed selection and onion variety are so crucial. 

Gills Onions currently grows around a dozen varieties of onions. These varieties are selected for their flavor and longevity. Then, the seeds are matched with growing environments that will produce the best results from hot, more desert-like environments to fields in cooler regions like Bakersfield, King City, and the Salinas Valley. During the growing process, adjustments must be made for onions that will be spending time in storage. We pull back on the use of fertilizers and nitrogen to allow calcium in the onions to build a strong cell wall that will withstand natural cellular breakdowns that occur over time. At harvest time, onions are dug up and cured in the sun for 7 to 10 days. Curing is an essential part of the storage process. Onions that aren’t cured properly will decay quickly in storage. Bulk onion operations place unpeeled onions loose or in bags into a cold storage warehouse. Often, heat is used to dry out the onions and prevent decay, but this can mean sacrificing flavor. 

As a fresh cut processor, our onions are harvested, sorted and placed into bins before storing. The onions are also pre-cooled to gradually bring them down to storage temperatures. This gradual cooling keeps the onions from sweating and building up moisture that causes mold. In storage, the onions are kept at 34 degrees Fahrenheit and 75% humidity for optimum freshness. During the storage season, the onions are routinely checked for quality. Onions with internal or external decay, sun damage, or mechanical damage from the peeling process are removed from storage. The onions’ color can also be an indicator of freshness. Yellow or green centers mean an onion is reaching its point of longevity for storage.

Making a Great Storage Onion 

Some varieties of onions naturally stay fresh longer than others, and even the most subtle physical attributes, like shape, can affect the way an onion withstands the storing process. Storage onions should have single centers instead of multiple centers. Those with double or triple centers break down faster, and won’t stay fresh for long. We constantly evaluate and re-evaluate how each variety of onion is performing in storage. Like any crop, onion genetics change over time. If a variety we have loved is now producing onions with undesirable attributes – like multiple centers – we stop using it and replace it with a better-performing variety. Quality always comes first. 

Year-Round Quantity with Gills Onions Quality 

At Gills Onions, we are dedicated to providing the best onions at the best price. We take our responsibility to our environment, our customers, and of course, our onions, seriously. With our strict storage onions growing program, we can deliver the best tasting and freshest product year-round. Our customers get consistent quality, a consistent price, and consistent availability all 365 days of the year. 

But don’t take our word for it. Our onions speak for themselves. 

Ready to try onions grown “The Gill Way”? Contact our sales department to learn more.

Our Commitment to Food Safety

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 48 million Americans get sick from a foodborne illness each year. That means that 1 in 6 people order a meal from a commercial kitchen with an accidental side of disease-causing contaminates. 

The good news: There’s an easy way to take your food safety practices to the next level, and it all starts with onions. 

At Gills Onions, we are committed to setting the standard in food safety. Our onions are the best industry, and they deserve to be the cleanest and safest in the industry too. That’s why we go above and beyond to protect the integrity of our product through every step of processing and shipment. 

We recently overhauled more than 32,000 square feet of our facilities to replace walls, ceilings, and floors with a continuous epoxy and fiberglass material. This eliminated the presence of even the smallest seams where water could collect and allow bacteria to grow and made it easier for our staff to clean and sanitize every inch of our plant. 

Here are a few more ways our process and our product can help you increase the safety of your kitchen.  

Get Ready for a Cleaner Kitchen

Unpeeled raw onions can bring unsanitary dirt and bacteria into your kitchen. 

Whole peeled onions offer a more hygienic alternative. 

Extensive testing shows that bulk onions can contain 100 to 1000 times more bacteria, yeasts, and molds than Gills Whole Peeled Onions. Once those contaminants are in your kitchen space, it’s easy for them to spread to other surfaces and foods, and it’s difficult for you to stop them. The key is eliminating these germs before they arrive in your kitchen. 

Cleanliness Starts In-House 

Every Gills onion goes through an HACCP-approved cleaning process with chlorine dioxide treated water, metal detection, and strict temperature controls. Our in-house laboratory is fully equipped with expert staff that oversee and verify the cleanliness of both our product and our equipment.

Before our facility opens for processing each day, our QAs use strict parameters to verify that each piece of equipment and all our packaging areas meet the highest standards of cleanliness. They understand that even the smallest food safety hazards could harbor microbial growth and affect the entire supply chain. To ensure that all FDA regulations are met, our technicians measure chemical residue, environmental and product pulp temperatures, and more. 

At Gills, every employee from the maintenance department to the production team receives food safety training. We believe that food safety goes far beyond the packaging room. That’s why we monitor the conditions of our cooler, our shipping dock, our storage warehouse, and even the outside perimeter of our facility. 

All of these practices allow us to guarantee that when you receive a shipment of our whole peeled onions, you are welcoming the safest possible food into your kitchen. 

Meeting the Highest Standards 

But we don’t expect you to rely just on the word of our in-house team. Our products are also verified by a host of reputable third-party organizations including:

  • Primus 
  • AIB 
  • NSF Davis Fresh
  • Steritech
  • US Army 
  • NSF
  • NSF Quality Assurance International

And our Gills Onions cleaning and preparation program is SQF certified. 

Preventing Bacteria with the Pillow Pack 

Once our Whole Peeled Onions are prepared and cleaned, it’s time to pack and ship them to you, but transit can be bacteria’s best friend. 

A hard vacuum pack is the industry standard for packaging and shipping fresh onion products. Unfortunately, this method creates the perfect conditions for lactic acid bacterial growth, which spoils the product faster and results in a sour or fermented smell. 

At Gills Onions, we’ve found a better, safer, and cleaner way. 

We gently pillow pack our onions, leaving some oxygen present in the bag. This prevents water accumulation and the growth of unwanted microorganisms. 

It’s Time to Start Working Cleaner.

With Gills Whole Peeled Onions, you can be sure you’re buying the safest onions available — all ready-to-use with consistent 100% yield. 

But don’t take our word for it. Our onions speak for themselves. 

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department. 
 

Behind the Scenes: Gills Food Safety

At Gills Onions, we are committed to setting the standard in food safety. Our onions are the best in the industry, and they deserve to be the cleanest and safest in the industry too. That’s why we go above and beyond to protect the integrity of our product through every step of processing and shipment. 

We recently overhauled more than 32,000 square feet of our facilities to replace walls, ceilings, and floors with a continuous epoxy and fiberglass material. This eliminated the presence of even the smallest seams where water could collect and allow bacteria to grow and made it easier for our staff to clean and sanitize every inch of our plant. 

Take a look behind the scenes of Gills Onions at a day in the life of our quality assurance technicians.  

Before Production Begins

Our quality assurance technicians play a crucial role in providing safe products to our customers. Every QA employee is trained in FSPCA Food Defense Awareness and is dedicated to ensuring the highest standards of safety. It’s a big task, and their day starts early — at 4:45 a.m. The first shift of QA techs begins their shift by performing pre-operational (pre-op) inspections. 

Step 1: Inspect all equipment that will be used during production both by physical examination and adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, testing. This process tests for the presence of actively growing microorganisms. Any equipment that is questionable is rewashed and sanitized by our third-party sanitation team or, if broken, repaired by our maintenance department. During the physical inspection, QAs look for:

  • Onion residue
  • Cracks or damage to equipment where bacteria could thrive
  • Wetness on walls, floors, and ceiling that could pose a risk for bacterial contamination

Step 2: Inspect knives and blades for chips or damage that could pose the potential for metal contamination. 

Step 3: Record peroxyacetic acid (PAA) concentrations and ensure it is compliant with FDA regulations. PAA is used to sanitize conveyor lines during breaks and between shifts. 

Step 4: Take additional measures if organic onions are being processed. Parameters used to process these onions — like free chlorine, quat, and pH — differ from other onions batches. 

Step 5: See that wash water systems are functioning properly, and verify that chlorine dioxide levels are within FDA regulatory standards. Wash water temperature is also monitored for optimum performance and cleanliness. 

At the end of the pre-op inspection, the QA team shifts gears. It’s time for Gills Onions production employees to enter the processing facility. 

With the help of production leads and foremen, the QAs verify that all of our personnel are following good hygiene and manufacturing practices — hair is covered, hands are washed and sanitized, and employees are following the proper color coding system for smocks and bump caps. 

Our Gills Onions processing plant is separated into zones based on bacterial contamination risk. Employees in low risk zones where dirt is present and onions have yet to be washed wear blue. Employees in high risk areas wear white.

Once the Onions Arrive 

At the start of production, QAs verify that all the metal detectors being used are properly functioning. They monitor the processing area and onion pulp temperatures. Maintaining a strict temperature range is crucial for achieving Gills Onions’ industry-leading shelf life. 

The QA tech team performs additional quality checks throughout the day. They conduct weight checks and monitor cut size to ensure that internal and customer specifications are met. Gills Whole Peeled Onions are monitored to identify defects or determine the next step in processing — slicing or dicing. If puree or pickled onions are being processed, our QAs verify the pH of the finished product. Since both are acidic mixtures, the pH can be used as an indicator of microbial inhibition. 

QAs pull random samples from every field of the plant to inspect for defects, color, and size. This information helps Gills Onions down the line as we select seeds for the following season. 

The second shift of QA employees arrive at 3 p.m. and continue quality checks until the end of the work day. 

An Entire Staff Committed to Food Safety

At Gills, every employee from the maintenance department to the production team receives food safety training. We believe that food safety goes far beyond the packaging room. That’s why we monitor the conditions of our cooler, our shipping dock, our storage warehouse, and even the outside perimeter of our facility. 

Here is a quick glimpse at some of the other important roles that help keep our products safe:

  1. Microbiologist. Our full-time microbiologist performs sampling and tests on raw materials, water, onion products, and the surrounding environment to detect pathogens and other microorganisms. They help identify sources of possible contamination, spoilage, or other quality issues. 
  2. Maintenance. The maintenance team monitors the integrity of all our processing equipment. They ensure that each piece of equipment is of hygienic design and free of flaws like cracks and poor welding that could pose a risk for microbial growth. 
  3. Pest control. We work closely with a third-party pest control company to monitor and prevent pest activity. Prevention is absolutely key to maintaining a safe production environment. 
  4. Production. The traffic flow of forklifts is heavily monitored. Our forklifts are assigned specific locations to ensure that dirt and other foreign matter from incoming raw material is not transferred to packed product. 
  5. Shipping and receiving. These employees are responsible for maintaining the integrity of our packaging. They are the final checkpoint for identifying errors with labeling. Each label contains vital information about the field, grower, variety, production line, and production date. This information is key in being able to provide customers total traceability. 

Leading the Way Together

At the end of the day, our goal is to put the world’s best onions out into the marketplace. This isn’t possible without the dedication of our employees. The quest for food safety truly is a team effort. Valery Rodriguez has been working at Gills Onions since the Spring of 2019. As our Quality Assurance & Food Safety Manager, she plays a crucial role on our team in helping us achieve an unbeatable standard of quality. 

“I enjoy when we work together to face and solve food safety and quality challenges,” Valery says. “It feels even better when responsible and trained employees identify and communicate a potential issue and correct it before it causes problems.” 

Like Valery, our entire staff takes pride in creating the highest quality environment for the highest quality onions. 

So, the next time you open up a bag of Gills Onions, remember that our team has your back. You can rest assured that you are welcoming the safest product into your kitchen. And they taste great too. 

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department. 

5 Food Safety Tips for Your Commercial Kitchen

Americans love to eat. It’s part of our daily routines and celebrations, and it’s a way to relax and unwind after a long day. 

Unfortunately, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 48 million Americans get sick from a foodborne illness each year. That means that 1 in 6 Americans order a special treat from a commercial kitchen and go home with a doggy bag of disease-causing contaminates. Not the night out you were looking for, right?

But there are simple steps you can take to increase commercial kitchen safety, keep your customers and employees safe, and give you peace of mind. 

1. Wear Gloves and Wash Hands Frequently 

While these steps may seem obvious, they are key to preventing cross-contamination in your kitchen. Remember, even the tiniest amount of bacteria can make a person sick. Provide a dedicated employee hand washing station near the entrance to your kitchen. Require all employees to wash their hands with soap and running water for a minimum of 20 seconds before touching anything else in the kitchen. 

Once their hands are washed, employees should wear kitchen gloves anytime they are interacting with food. But, gloves can give employees a false sense of safety. Remind them that gloves must be changed frequently, especially when switching between foods like raw meat, poultry, and prepared food ready to leave the kitchen. 

2. Wash Fruits and Vegetables

Even fresh fruits and vegetables that are peeled or skinned before use need to be washed. Otherwise, you risk spreading germs from the outside of the produce to the inside portions that people will consume. 

Designate a colander solely for washing fruits and vegetables. It shouldn’t be used for any other foods like raw meats or pastas. Run fruits and vegetables under cool running water and scrub well. You can also use an FDA-approved fruit and vegetable rinse for an extra-thorough cleaning. 

3. Be Mindful of Food Storage Temperatures

Separate cold food storage areas should be used for raw meats, produce, and other prepared foods like sauces or dips. Fresh cut vegetables need to be properly stored away in cold storage and never left out at room temperature. 

Foods of any kind should never be stored on the floor, and it is helpful to have thermometers to measure temperature in both freezers and refrigerators. 

4. Don’t Mess with Shelf Life 

Never use old or expired food. If it looks like you shouldn’t use it, don’t. It’s always better to throw out an unused product in foodservice than to risk making someone sick. Clearly label foods to keep track of when items arrive in your kitchen. 

5. Use Gills Onions 

Gills Onions is committed to setting the standard in food safety. Our priority is protecting the integrity of our product through each step of processing and shipment. Here are a few ways our process and our product can help you increase the safety of your kitchen.  

Bulk onions can contain 100 to 1000 times more bacteria, yeasts, and molds than Gills Whole Peeled Onions. Once these contaminants enter your kitchen, it becomes very difficult to get them out. Instead, you can eliminate these germs before they arrive by investing in a fresh, value-added product. 

Industry standard practices hard vacuum pack fresh cut products, but this method creates ideal conditions for lactic acid bacterial growth, spoiling the product faster and delivering a sour, fermented smell. 

At Gills Onions, we’ve found a better, safer, and cleaner way. We gently pillow pack our onions, leaving some oxygen present in the bag. This prevents water accumulation and the growth of unwanted microorganisms. 

And, our onions offer the longest shelf life in the industry. 

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department

We Scored 100% on the SQF Audit! Here’s What That Means for You…

Gills Onions are the best in the business. We’re not afraid to make these bold claims, because we stand behind our product. Everything we do from seed to packing and shipping is centered around delivering the best fresh cut onions in the industry. 

Food safety is a large part of ensuring that our line of value-added products is not only delicious but also clean and safe for every customer. This year, Gills Onions scored a 100% on the SQF Audit, a testament to the standards we maintain (and strive to supersede) as we work. 

Why the SQF Audit matters

SQF stands for Safe Quality Food and is a national, third-party food safety certification and quality program with a strict set of guidelines businesses must follow. During an SQF Audit, a certified inspector conducts an extensive on-site review, typically over several days, of a processor’s facility, processes, and documentation for the last year. The audit reviews whether or not you are keeping the standards for a safe food environment. It also tracks whether or not a business is keeping proper documentation for all of its processes and products. Finally, it gives each organization an opportunity to validate that their systems are achieving their goals and producing safe foods. 

The goal of the audit is to become a SQF-Certified Site. The SQF Institute states, “Achieving this certification is not only a testament to your hard work, it is also a credible demonstration of your commitment to food safety.” By scoring 100% on our latest SQF Audit, Gills Onions demonstrated that we uphold the highest standards for food safety. 

Keeping our food safe 

Every Gills onion goes through an HACCP-approved cleaning process with chlorine dioxide treated water, metal detection, and strict temperature controls. Our in-house laboratory is fully equipped with expert staff members that oversee and verify the cleanliness of both our product and our equipment.

At Gills, every employee from the maintenance department to the production team receives food safety training. We believe that food safety goes far beyond the packaging room. That’s why we monitor the conditions of our cooler, our shipping dock, our storage warehouse, and even the outside perimeter of our facility. 

We also pride ourselves on our level of communication between departments. Our department heads meet daily — more than the weekly standard — to review practices in all areas of the company and offer ideas for improvement. 

Continuing to advance food safety standards

During the SQF Audit, we were asked multiple times how we planned to continuously improve our approach to food safety. That’s one of the reasons we love the SQF. It isn’t a one time score. The guidelines are always updating and improving, raising the bar for companies like ours. 

Our mission is to always be conscious of innovations and improvements we can make that help us be safer, work cleaner, and continue to provide quality products for future generations. 

For example, we are currently replacing our peelers with the latest technology — even though the current peelers still work to standard. Some organizations may take the point of view of “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” but at Gills Onions we are always striving for the best, most efficient, and safest equipment. We’re also working on a new bagger that will minimize personnel contact with our finished products. 

As we move into another year of production, we’re excited for the opportunity to maintain our 100% SQF Audit score and to continue to deliver the safest, most delicious onions to customers like you. 

Ready to try onions grown “The Gill Way”? Contact our sales department to learn more. 
 

Our Commitment to Fresh Produce

When you buy fresh produce at the store, you expect it to be fresh. Chefs purchasing fresh produce from suppliers expect the same. Unfortunately, what you pay for isn’t always what you get. 

Unless you buy fresh products from Gills Onions. 

We pride ourselves in offering the longest shelf life in the industry. We want our products to be the freshest, most delicious thing on your plate. Here’s how we back that guarantee. 

Why Shelf Life Matters 

A study from the Food Marketing Institute found that 80% of shoppers cite high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables as the most important thing when choosing a primary grocery store. And yet, time and again you’ll find consumers who buy what looks like a fresh piece of produce at the store, only to realize it has gone bad shortly after taking it home. 

This experience is backed up by a Zest Labs study that found that nearly half of the fresh produce they sampled in stores spoiled prematurely. 

Why does this happen?

The fresh supply chain is up against some very real challenges, namely a race to the consumer and a race against the clock. Fresh produce spends up to half of its shelf life in transit. From the second produce is harvested, the count down to break down begins. Growers and processors must use advanced equipment and technology and handle products with great care to preserve the quality while moving it quickly from field to consumer. 

It doesn’t matter how great your produce is when it’s harvested if it has gone bad by the time it is ready to be used. 

The Gills Onions Difference 

Presenting a fresher product to our end customer starts at the seed. Our unique onion growing prescription creates a “dryer” onion. With less water in the cells, these onions break down more slowly and resist the creation of that foul-smelling onion juice that accelerates the process of “going bad.” 

Once our onions are harvested, the number one factor in maintaining freshness is temperature control. We keep the product in a constant, controlled temperature range of 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This delays the natural breakdown of the onion cells and prevents damage that could come from freezing. 

By keeping the temperature fairly constant, we avoid the negative effects of “temperature abuse,” the strain put on vegetables when they come in and out of the cooler repeatedly. 

When it’s time to package our products, Gills Onions uses a breathable, soft-pack bag as opposed to a hard-pack vacuum seal. Breathability helps prevent bacteria growth, which causes a sour smell and a sour taste. 

With these practices in place, Gills Onions can deliver a consistently fresh product all year long. Our onions have a shelf life of 18 days. Most other onions are given 12 days. That means that even our farthest customers waiting for onions to arrive from California receive a product that still has about 10 days of freshness guaranteed. 

When you use a Gills Onions product, you can cook with confidence, knowing that your food will taste fresh because it is fresh. Every product in our line-up is grown, processed, and transported with quality as the priority. 

But like we always say, don’t take our word for it. Our onions speak for themselves.

Ready to try onions grown “The Gill Way”? Contact our sales department to learn more. 

Harvest Has Begun, and Fresh Onions Are on Their Way

Why You Should Be Celebrating the Start of Fresh Onion Season

Spring is here, and at Gills Onions that means one thing: harvest has begun! In addition to having the longest shelf life in the industry, Gills Onions is always the first to market with a fresh crop of delicious onions. We’re celebrating the transition from storage onions season to fresh onion season. Here’s why you should too. 

What Fresh Onion Season Means for You

April 15 marked the start of the harvest season for Gills Onions. We are raking in fresh yellow onions from our fields across California. Red onion harvest will follow around the first part of May. Since our onions can always be relied on for fantastic flavor, you may wonder what differences you can see between onions fresh from harvest and those cultivated for storage season. 

There are several notable perks to fresh onions. Virtually no odor can be detected from the onions that come directly from harvest. There also won’t be any green sprouting or telescoping, which can sometimes happen when an onion reaches the end of storage season and is trying to grow again. You’ll also notice some visible differences between fresh onions and storage onions. It’s common for fresh red onions to appear pale and even almost white. This color difference has to do with the early season varieties we plant and the fact that red onions develop a deeper color as they cure and wait to be processed. Your yellow onions may appear to be whiter as well for the same reasons. 

What Harvest Season Looks Like at Gills Onions

At Gills Onions, we strategically time our onion planting, harvesting, and varieties so that we can meet the need for onions year-round. We typically harvest from April to November from three major growing areas of California. Each region has its own set of strengths that help us consistently produce quality onions. 

Our fields in Imperial County (Brawley) are the first to harvest each year. This region gives us a strong onion supply as we transition out of storage onion season. Then, we move to Kern County (Bakersfield), where a large amount of our onion supply is grown. We plant such large amounts in this region because the environment favors short, intermediate, and long day onions alike. Finally, we move to harvest in the fall into Monterey County (King City). These fields provide the bulk of our storage onions. 

In order to harvest over such a long span of time, we have to plan our planting accordingly. We typically start planting the Brawley fields in October or November each year so they are ready to start harvesting in April. The final fields in King City are usually finishing being planted as we start harvesting the Brawley crop in the spring. This strategy keeps growers busy, but it keeps our customers in delicious onions no matter the time of year. 

Behind the Scenes of Harvest

This video gives you a brief behind the scenes look at how our onions are harvested. You’ll see two machines passing through the field. The first is a chopper, which cuts the green tops off of the onions. The second is the digger, which pulls the onions from under the ground onto the earth’s surface. Once these two machines have done their jobs, a row of beautiful fresh onions can clearly be seen. 

These onions are left in the open air and warm sunlight to cure for two to three days. Then, they are picked up and transported to our sorting facility, where they are checked for quality. The best onions are loaded onto trucks and delivered to our processing facility in Oxnard, California, where they are washed, peeled, sometimes cut, and prepared for shipping to customers like you. 

Gills Onions are 100 percent California grown and, boy, do they taste good. But don’t take our word for it. Fresh onions are on their way to you, and our onions speak for themselves. 

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department.