Lots of people seem to worry about their onions. Onions have a terrible habit of sprouting in store when the temperature changes. Even bought onions may start to sprout green shoots in your kitchen cupboard or refrigerator.
This is nothing to worry about the onion is a biennial plant and it wants to get growing again in its second year even though it has been pulled out of the ground.
Are Sprouting Onions Safe?
Yes, Sprouting Onions are Safe!
Firstly sprouting onions are fine to eat. Basically the green shoot is just the beginning of a scallion so you can eat the whole bulb and shoot. But, as the bulbs sprout new growth they lose their own mass and gradually get a bit loose and dry. Once your onion’s have sprouted to this degree they won’t be very tasty. So then the best option is to:
Plant Sprouting Onions and Enjoy a Calçotada
This really is a frugal living tip to make sure you get the most out of your vegetable patch. In Spain the process of replanting sprouting onions has unleashed a festival of scallions known as the calçotada. All over Catalunya stores are awash with huge bunches of calçots which are a giant form of scallion. Villages and towns organise barbecues where the calcots take pride of place.
For some reason the rest of the world seems to have missed how great replanted onions taste, cooked over charcoal and served with romesco sauce.
You can export this tradition to wherever you can grow onions and join the Catalan people with your own ‘calçot‘ crop.
Planting Sprouting Onions
- Plant sprouting onion bulbs in trenches 8″ deep and 6″ apart.
- As the new leaves grow, earth up with soil to ‘blanch’ them.
- Harvest when the leaves are around 2 foot long. If you’ve been earthing up regularly they should have around 8″ of white succulent flesh for you to enjoy.
Enjoying a Calçotada
- Split just, harvested onions into their individual scallions. We tend to get between five and ten scallions / calçots per bulb.
- Throw the scallions straight onto a hot barbecue grill and leave to char (or cook them on a ridged griddle pan in the kitchen). You can trim, wash and even smother in a little olive oil if desired but tradition dictates simply throwing the still muddy plants on the grill!
- When very charred hold the root and pull the outer leaves off to reveal the white succulent flesh.
- Dip into a romesco sauce and enjoy.
- Bibs are always a good idea as they are very juicy.
If grilling the new onion plants dosn’t seem like your thing (trust me it really is a very tasty way to enjoy them) just use them in your usual cooking. They will be stronger than traditional spring onions so not to everyone’s taste raw. But cooked, they taste of… onion!
In Catalunya the bulbs are planted in late summer/early autum and harvested in late winter/early spring. But have a go whenever you have surplus sprouting onions and space. If the onions are sprouting it means they want to grow so let them and get more from your vegetable plot!
For a more self sufficient future