When are onions ready for harvest?
Onions are used commonly in our everyday cooking. They are used often as they provide the base for other flavors to stand on. Onions add a sweet, earthy flavor to many different dishes and provide a spicy flavor when served raw. Without onions, most vegetable flavors would come off bland and the meat would not taste as incredible/
Botanists, archeologists and food historians believe that onions originated from central Asia, although because of its small size & their tissues leaving very little trace its origin is obscure. One thing is for sure though, onions grew wild in various diverse regions and were consumed thousands of years ago as a staple for the primordial diet.
The exact place and time of its origin might be unknown but a considerable amount of documents from early times noted its importance as food, medicine, art and were even used in the mummification process.
Types of Onions
We know that there are different kinds of onions, but how many types are there? Let’s run through the 22 varieties of onions.
- Bermuda Onions – this is a sweet tasting onion that is best used for salads. It can also be used for stuffing then baked.
- Boiling Onions – has a mild flavor and used for stews, soups, casseroles and creamed cuisines.
- Chives – adds a very mild taste to food and great for salads, potatoes and soups.
- Cipollini – it imparts a rich and sweet flavor to dishes and can be used for roasting and caramelizing. It is also a good choice for salads and tarts.
- Cocktail Onion – also known as Silver Skin Onion and has a sweet taste. This can be used as cocktail garnish or for cold meat and bread.
- Egyptian Onions – because of its very mild flavor it can be used for salads, cream soups and potatoes.
- Green Onions (Spring Onion) – this type of onion is often eaten raw because of its mild and slightly peppery flavor. It is a great addition to salads, sandwiches and omelets.
- Leeks – used for soups and frying due to its mild flavor. Just make sure to remove the leaves as those are inedible.
- Maui Onions – If you are looking for an onion that has a sweet and juicy flavor then Maui onion is for you. You can use it to make onion rings, sandwiches and salads. It can also be grilled, marinated or caramelized.
- Pearl Onions – you may know them as baby onions or button onions but they are all the same. They have a mild, sweet taste and can be used for pickling, sautéing, stews, casseroles and gravies.
- Pickling Onions – this onion has a strong and pungent flavor and best for pickling. It can also be used as a substitute for regular onions when making casseroles.
- Red Onions – has a sweet and mild flavor. It can be used for salads, antipasto trays and sandwiches. It can also be roasted and served with roasted meats.
- Red Wing Onions – because of its very mild taste it can be used on sandwiches and salads.
- Shallot Onions – not considered a true onion and has a mild, delicate flavor. Can be used to make sauces, dressings and dips.
- Spanish Onions – can be used for salads, onion rings and substitute for shallots because of its mild and sweet taste. Can also be stuffed then baked.
- Texas Super Sweet – it has a delicate and very mild flavor which can be used for salsas, salads and sandwiches.
- Walla Walla Sweet – ultimately sweet yet has a complex flavor and best eaten raw or slightly cooked. Great for salad, pasta, pizza, sandwiches and quiche.
- Welsh Onions – used for stir-frying because of its moderately pungent aroma.
- White Onions – has a strong and pungent aroma but extremely flavorful. Best used for general cooking and salads.
- Yellow Onions – used for general cooking and has less pungent flavor compared to white onion.
- Vidalia onions – sweet Vidalia onions are great for salads, dressings, dips, relishes and quick pickles. These sweet onions can also be used when making onion rings.
- Texas 1015 onions – has warm and sweet aroma. It also has mild, juicy non-tearing crisp white flesh and is considered to be the sweetest of all sweet onion varieties.1015 Onions can be used in all dishes requiring onion preparations.
Generally, onions are planted in spring and harvested right before or in early fall, although some varieties can be planted in fall.
Because the bulbs are hidden underneath the soil, it can be a little difficult to know when onions are ready for harvesting. But don’t worry the plant offers hints on when its ready to be harvested.
- Feel for soft spots few inches above the onion bulb as it is a sign that the bulb has finished growing.
- Onions are ready to be picked as soon as they reach a useable size.
- Wait for half of the plants to fall over before harvesting the entire planting.
When you buy onions next time, try choosing an onion you have not used before and experience the different flavors onions have in store for you.