Kitchen Classics: The Vidalia Onion
One of the newest additions to the genus Allium, the Vidalia Onion was discovered in Georgia in 1931. Named for its hometown, it is one of the most successful agricultural products in the history of the Peach State. A highly versatile vegetable, the Vidalia is an unusually sweet, mild onion that can be enjoyed cooked or raw. It is for this reason that it is a common ingredient in numerous world cuisines.
Grown exclusively in a 20-county region of Georgia, the Vidalia is available from late April through mid-November. Because of its high water and sugar content, Vidalias have a slightly shorter shelf life than most other onion varieties. On average, a bag of these onions should last for two to three weeks.
Like many other ancient foods, the onion was once considered a panacea that could cure everything from baldness to freckles to more serious, even life-threatening conditions. But one thing we know for certain is that Vidalia Onions are a good source of vitamin C and dietary fiber. Of course, that doesn't tell us why most cooks consider them a staple ingredient. So, what exactly makes them so special?
Because they are sweeter and contain more water than most other onion varieties, the Vidalia is one of the few onions that can be baked, sautÃ©ed, steamed, or eaten raw. This amazing versatility makes them a favorite of both professional and amateur cooks alike. What are the best ways to enjoy them?
Like red onions, raw Vidalias are sweet and watery enough to be used in salads. They can also be added raw to burgers and sandwiches and will not overpower them. Few other onion varieties can be used in a similar fashion.
Like most other onions, Vidalias can be steamed, baked, fried, or sautÃ©ed in any dish that requires cooked onions. They are especially popular in dishes that require caramelized onions, since they contain more sugar than most other onion varieties.
Buying and Storage Tips
Â· The Vidalia should have a light-brown exterior, a rounded bottom, and a slightly flat top.
Â· Because they have higher water content than most other onion varieties, Vidalias bruise quite easily so handle them with care.
Â· To keep them from drying out, remove Vidalias from their bags and store them separately to ensure freshness.
Â· Since they are not available all-year round, it is often a good idea to purchase Vidalias in bulk shortly before the season ends and store them properly.
Â· It is possible to freeze whole Vidalia Onions, but they should only be used for cooking, since freezing changes their texture when used raw.