Sunday, May 3, 2015

Now Is The Time To Enjoy Those Walking Onions (Egyptian Onions, Winter Onions)

I was digging onions and I happened to think that I've never really alerted anyone to the time when Walking Onions are at their best.  So if you're new to growing them, they're at their best right now in Zone 6a.  Probably a little too late for warmer zones and just getting good in cooler zones. 

The best time is between the time that they fill out the bed in spring and before they start making bulblets on the ends of the greens. 
By this stage, you'd better hurry, because it'll be too late very soon.  The bulbs are forming under that husk and they are about ready to push the covers back.  These next two pictures are from previous years.

As you can see, the central stalk is starting to grow thicker and tougher now.  Soon, it will become woody and inedible, and will extend down through the center of the root.  This makes it more able to support the buds that will be forming on the top ends. 

I use my Walking Onions in cooking all spring.  If I'm on the ball, I'm also freezing some for later.  I've dried them before, but I much prefer to chop and freeze.  Sometimes I saute' some in butter or bacon fat and serve them as a side dish.  Cooking really sweetens them up. 

Here's how I harvest and clean Walking Onions:

Walking Onions are easy to harvest.  Just aim your shovel deeply into an open space between onion clumps and then pry up to loosen the roots.  You can then just grab the onions by their greens and shake the earth off them.  They will look ugly like this.  That brown stuff hanging off the root is the remains of last year's woody stalk, having served it's purpose well.

I sit out on the patio to clean them.  First, I cut off the roots.
Allow the parts you cut off to drop down into the bucket.  It's just easier and cleaner this way.  This'll all go to the compost bin.

Find the bottom-most onion leaf and start pulling it off the onion, towards where the roots were.
Then you can see a little piece that's usually from a leaf that's already dried and fallen off on the other side.  Find the loose end and peel it off.
Now the bulb of your onion is peeled cleanly.

Go up the stalk to the point where there is no more branching off of green leaves.  You will cut across the onion here.
You can cut the onion shorter if you want, and you may have to if that central stalk is already beginning to toughen.  I like to get maximum yield from my onion without loading up too much on the greens, and this is about it for me. 

Just a thorough wash and a rough chop now, and you're good to go.  Pour the chopped onion into a bag and freeze, or use immediately in any cooked dish calling for chopped onion. (Hint:  I always set my cutting board inside a pan that has edges.  This keeps the chopped pieces from rolling off the board, across the counter, and onto the floor. )

You can harvest from your Walking Onion patch all summer if you need to, it's just that once that woody core starts to form down into the center of the entire onion, you'll have to remove that part, and you'll be throwing out quite a bit more of the onion than you have to now, as what it is doing is dividing the one root bulb into two.  My mother harvested from her patch all year 'round.  She liked to eat them as green onions at the stage earlier than this one.  I find them a little hot, and even if they were bland and tender, Hubs wouldn't eat them.  So, in my household, this is the best stage at which to use them.

That's all for this time, I apologize for not posting this sooner for those that might be wondering WHEN they're supposed to use their Walking Onions.  Now is always a crazy time what with yard work and garden prep, I always tend to forget to post about those things I just do automatically.  

Rock on....  xoxoxo

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