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Walking Tree Onions
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Walking onion plants are medium to large in size and produce underground, slender shallot-like bulbs, attached to above ground long leaf stalks with many round to ovoid bulbets. The bulbets, also known as topsets, average 1-5 centimeters in diameter and are encased in a red, papery skin when young, eventually shedding the papery coverings with maturity. On the end of the mature topsets, there are many small roots and green sprouts, and one leaf stalk can grow as many as thirty topsets. The leaf stalks are bright green, hollow, round, juicy, and crunchy and can grow up to one meter in height, sometimes bearing small white flowers in the spring. Underneath the stalk, the bulbs are red to white in color and are firm, crisp, and can divide many times to form new clusters of bulbs. Walking onions bulbs and topsets are crisp and have a sharp, pungent and spicy flavor.
Walking onions are available in the late summer.
Walking onions, botanically classified as Allium proliferum, are a smaller, perennial relative of the topsetting catawissa onion and are members of the Amaryllidaceae family. Also known as Tree onions, Egyptian Tree onions, Top onions, Winter onions, and Perennial onions, Walking onions are a cross between bulbing onions, Allium cepa, and bunching onions, Allium fistlosum. Walking onions are a rare variety that can tolerate cold winters, grow prolifically, and are one of the first varieties to sprout in the spring. Favored for their unusual appearance and growing patterns, the entire plant can be used in various culinary applications.
Walking onions contain vitamins A, C, and K, folate, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus.
Walking onions are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as baking, roasting, and frying. The stalks, bulbs, and topsets are all edible and can be used in place of regular onions. The young leaves, shoots, and stalks can be used similarly to scallions in soups, stews, omelets, stir-fries, or as a finishing herb. The small size of the topsets make them ideal for pickling and can be served with chicken breasts. They can also be roasted whole, drizzled with oil and salt, and roasted in their skin to seal in natural sugars. The bulbs can be chopped, sliced, or minced and cooked with vegetables, roasted meat, or brown rice, and they can be fried as a crunchy side dish. Walking onions pair well with quinoa, farro, brown rice, citrus, meats such as poultry, fish, beef, and pork, eggs, basil, thyme, parsley, artichoke, bell pepper, mushroom, broccoli, leeks, spinach, and garlic. The flowers can also be crumbled over salads, eggs, or mushrooms for added flavor. The bulbs will keep for a couple of months when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Walking onions get their name from the way in which the plant self-propagates. When the leaf stalks develop many topsets, the weight of the bulbets pulls the top of the stalk to the ground, allowing the topsets to take root and grow new stalks. This act of spreading and growing gives the illusion that the plant is “walking” and some plants can walk over one meter each year. Some cultivators refer to the plant as the Egyptian Walking onion, which may be another reference to the unusual way the plant grows, but there is little research that supports the origins of this name and if the variety was cultivated in Egypt.
Walking onions have a varied history, and much of their origins are unknown. It is believed that the onions were found growing in the wild and gypsies traveling across Europe introduced the variety from Asia, trading the variety in Roman markets. Today Walking onions are somewhat rare and can be found growing wild, cultivated in home gardens, and are sold at select farmers markets in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Recipes that include Walking Tree Onions. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Earth Eats||Pickled Onions|