Plant Those Sprouted Kitchen Onions

Reader Contribution by William Rubel
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I’ll come back from a long trip to find sprouted vegetables in my kitchen. Today, I’d like to talk about sprouted onions. Of course, if they aren’t moldy and grungy you can cook them. But having  a ready supply of onion greens in ones kitchen garden is such a convenience I think that as a rule it is a good idea to always plant plant mature onion bulbs.

Planted mature onions provide you with a steady crop of cut-and-come-again onion greens. The tender green shoots are a ready substitute for bunching onions. When you just need a little bit of onion leaf for a recipe — well — that little bit of green onion will always be a few steps from your kitchen door.

In addition as an accent vegetable in salads, I enjoy eating green onions as a side dish, especially when making tacos. Sometimes I grill them, and other times I sauté them in a frying pan with a little salt and olive oil. Sprouts grow back quickly after cutting.

I was first introduced to planting mature onions in Lithuania. I was visiting someones country house in Spring. Lithuania is in Europe’s far North, so many people have small greenhouses to both help get plants going early and to keep them growing a little further into the Fall than would be possible outdoors. That is where I saw sprouting onions for the first time. It had never previously occurred to me that common sense fact that an onion is a bulb! Plant it and it grows!

Asking around, I found that planting mature onion bulbs was a common practice, and that people living in apartments  even planted them in pots placed in their kitchen windows to supply greens through the Winter. This was still in the Soviet period, so fresh vegetables out of season were not available. Still, what a nice idea! It is Winter, your garden is frozen, but there is fresh onion growing in your kitchen window!

Where I live in California mature onions grow all year outdoors. Left in the ground they divide and thus become a reliable perennial supply of onion greens. You can sometimes score free sprouted onions from the grocery store. Be bold! Ask the produce manager about being given the sprouting onions. In my experience, they are often happy to give them to you. 

Another option, besides eating the onion greens, is to let the planted onions bloom. Each onion puts out a single flower shoot. Onion flowers are shaped like a ball and are composed of many, even hundreds, of small flowers. They are beautiful in the garden, and long lasting as cut flowers. In my experience, onions from the grocery store usually produce a white flour that is at least a couple inches in diameter. 

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