Valley Bounty: Onions

The most widely cultivated member of the genus Allium (which also includes garlic, shallots, leeks, and chives), the common onion (Allium cepa) is a bit of a botanical mystery. After something like five to seven millennia of selective breeding and cultivation, the origins of the modern onion, including whatever wild species it was derived from, are largely unknown. Onions are grown and eaten all around the world, and there is evidence of onion cultivation taking place thousands of years ago in China, Egypt, and Iran. Which culture was actually the first to grow onions intentionally is a subject of historical debate, and the wild ancestor to today’s onion is apparently lost to time.

With all that history of human beings growing and eating onions, you don’t need me to tell you the ones you picked up at the farmers’ market last weekend can go in a soup or on a sandwich. If you’ve wound up with more onions than you know what to do with, though, I’d give pickling them a shot: combine a cup of water, ½ cup cider vinegar, 1 tbsp sugar, and 1.5 tsp salt. Add chopped onion to a jar, then fill to the brim with the vinegar mixture, cover, and refrigerate for at least a day. Add them anywhere you’d use raw onion for a flavor twist.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)