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Walking Tree Onions
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Walking onions produce underground slender shallot-like bulbs as well as above ground bulblets that are round with a red papery skin resembling miniature onions. The bulbets are roughly the size of a hazelnut and offer onion-like robustness with a spicy finish. The underground bulbs can develop stronger spicy flavors as well. They may be used as a regular onion, but the bulblets are especially good for roasting or pickling whole.
Walking onions are available in the late summer.
Walking onions are also known as Tree onions, Egyptian Tree onions, Top onions, Winter onions or Perennial onions. They are a smaller cousin of the topsetting Catawissa onion and botanically classified as Allium proliferum, a cross between bulbing onions and bunching onions. Their name is most likely derived from the way in which they self-propagate. They develop flowers and bulblets above ground that eventually mature and become heavy enough to weigh them to the earth where roots can sprout and create new plants, giving the illusion of a “walking” growth pattern.
Like all members of the Allium family, Walking onions contain quercetin which can fight heart disease and cancer.
Use Walking onions in place of regular onions or scallions. All parts of the plant are edible and may be harvested throughout different parts of the growth cycle and used accordingly. Use young leaves, shoots and stalks similarly to scallions in soups and stir frys or as a finishing herb. The top bulblets are tedious to peel, but are perfect for pickling or roasting whole. Drizzle them with oil and salt and roast them in their skin, which becomes a natural jacket, sealing in and concentrating their natural sugars. Once cooked, the papery skin comes away easily. The underground bulbs are perhaps the spiciest part of the plant and are best when cooked.
The ancient Egyptians worshipped onions as a symbol of eternal life and often included them in the burial chambers of their pharaohs. Small onions were even found in the eye sockets of Ramesses IV. It remains uncertain whether Walking onions gained their “Egyptian” moniker from the walking pattern of their growth, but it makes for a curious debate.
Walking onions are a hardy topsetting onion variety that is prolific in most soil types. They can withstand temperatures below 24 degrees during their dormant period and can be planted in almost all seasons where climates are temperate. The plants will continue to produce and multiply year-round, some “walking” as far as three feet in one year.
Recipes that include Walking Tree Onions. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Earth Eats||Pickled Onions|