Sweet Onions


Mild fresh onions such as Vidalia and Maui are at their best in the spring.

By FamilyTime

 Some onion lovers claim they eat sweet onions out of hand, “just like an apple!”

While these sweet, fresh onions lack the sharpness of others, most of us are more likely to eat them in sandwiches and salads than munch away on the onion by itself.

Which ever way you like them, these onions are a real treat, and are at their best in the spring.

What are Sweet Onions?

Sweet onions are named after the geographical region in which they are grown. This is because the soil and climate in these areas conspire with the onion to produce a mild, mellow tasting bulb.

If the same onions were grown in different soil, they would be as pungent as any other onions.

Sweet onions are juicy, mild and when cut, do not cause tearing. For this reason, they are sometimes called slicing onions.

The Most Familiar Sweet Onions
Most people have heard of Vidalia onions, grown in the fields in and around Vidalia, Georgia. Maui sweet onions are from Hawaii.

Other sweets include Granos, from Texas, and Walla Walla from Washington State. Walla Walla onions have a later season than the others, being at their peak in July and August.

Sweet onions resemble ordinary globe onions, although some are flatter. They have golden to white, papery skin but are not as dry. Instead, they are crisp and juicy.

Nowadays, sweet onions are sold in specialty stores and supermarkets in many parts of the country. A large percentage of the crops are still sold through mail order, with onion lovers happily anticipating the start of the season and boxes of their favorites arriving on their doorsteps.

Storing and Serving Sweet Onions
Because of their high moisture content, sweet onions should be refrigerated and consumed within a few days of purchase. Select firm crisp specimens without soft spots or blemishes.

Other onions are actually partially dried in a process that cures the skin so that it tightens and protects against spoiling. This does not happen with sweet onions, which are categorized by the industry as fresh onions, similar to scallions.

Sweet onions are generally served raw. They are delicious sliced and served in sandwiches. Try a roast beef and sweet onion sandwiches, or tuna and sweet onions. Vegetable sandwiches are enhanced by the presence of juicy sweet onion slices, too.

They are equally delicious in salads. If you particularly like scallions (also called green onions) in your salad, try a Vidalia or Maui instead.

Because of their high sugar content, sweet onions caramelize beautifully. They turn golden brown when simmered in a little oil, butter, or a combination of butter and broth. This same high sugar content will cause the onions to scorch easily, so watch them carefully.

Use the caramelized onions on top of grilled meat, with roasted or grilled vegetables, or cooled and served with salads. They are delicious in relishes and salsas, too.

When you see sweet onions in the markets, buy a few. You won’t be disappointed. Their mild flavor and crisp juiciness will endear them to every home cook with a sense of culinary adventure!