We grow all the types of onions here, but this week lets focus on the later season onions. These are white, yellow, and red and have much thicker skins and lower water content so they store longer. These are a foundation of our winter CSA and will be part of our last couple summer CSAs too!
Onions have been around FOREVER and while there are wild varieties almost everywhere (probably where we started acquiring our taste for them), the first record of onions being domesticated comes from Mesopotamia. We know that the ancient Egyptians valued onions both as food and currency–people who built the pyramids were partially paid in both onions and garlic–and from Egypt, onions made their way throughout the rest of Europe and found their way to the United States in the mid-1600s when they were planted in Massachusetts by the Pilgrims.
It is no wonder onions crossed the Atlantic, they are integral to most savory cooking! Raw onions can have a flavor that ranges from sweet to spicy to hot to mild. When cooked their flavor becomes much sweeter, mild, and rounded out. And onions are good for you to boot. Full of chromium, vitamins C and B6, dietary fiber, manganese, molybdenum, tryptophan, folate, and potassium.
Finally, a note on when to use what onion. While the image above has some rules about what onion to use when, I have found that if your recipe calls for shallots and you only have leeks, or it calls for a white onion and you only have shallots, just go ahead and use them. You can get caught in the weeds of the specifics of things, but at their base, most of the time an allium is an allium. Plus, when eating seasonally and locally, your recipe will reflect the flavor of the moment: what is ready right now. That is the most important part.
To store: This time of year you want to store onions in your fridge, but in another month, after they have seasoned a bit more, they are best stored on your counter or in a dark cool corner in your pantry. But be careful what you store onions next too! Onions release some gasses that will make potatoes spoil faster and apples, celery, and pears will absorb the flavor of the onions.
To prep: Trim 1/4 to 1/2 inch off both ends and peel off the first layer of tough papery skin. But keep your skins for use in making broth. They freeze well for this purpose.
To use: Onions are a great base for pretty much anything savory. Sauté them in the oil of your choice as the beginning of any sauce, soup, stew, stir-fry … the list goes on forever. Chop them up raw and put in salsas and salads or sprinkled judiciously on tacos and burritos.
To preserve for spring: At a certain point, storage onion season ends but we don’t want to stop using onions. I like to have a couple gallon bags of frozen onions at the ready, one diced and one sliced. Then, when I need onions I just pull them out by the handful and toss them into whatever I am cooking.
Serving Suggestions and Ideas from Mi Ae Lipe’s Bounty from the Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook
Complementary Herbs, Seasonings, and Foods
Apples, bacon, basil, beef, butter, cheese (blue, Cheddar, Gruyère, mozzarella, Parmesan), chiles, cinnamon, cloves, cream, cucumbers, garlic, liver, mushrooms, nutmeg, olives, olive oil, paprika, parsley, pepper, pork, poultry, raisins, red wine, rice, sesame, sherry, soy sauce, taco mix, thyme, tomatoes, vegetables, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce.
- Try an unusual and tasty “coleslaw” made with thinly sliced red onion, fennel, and a tangy vinaigrette dressing.
- The French slow-simmer very thinly sliced onions in butter and red wine to create a confit that is tasty with beef, pork, and lamb dishes.
- Chopped onions add flavor to just about any vegetable or side dish you can imagine.
- Small halved red onions are absolutely delicious brushed with olive oil and cooked on the griddle, then finished with balsamic vinegar, and salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Serve roasted onions with a warm bacon dressing or vinaigrette.
Vegetable CSA Harvest List
Every week, we include this section which includes what we think will be coming out of our fields and hoop houses for Wednesday pick up. Keep in mind, that we send this email on Sunday and we harvest Monday & Tuesday for our Wednesday CSA. Sometimes we are spot on, but other times, we discover that we have more of something else and substitute that.
Vegetable Options will probably include:
(This time of year it is really hard to know exactly what will be available. Bear with us!)