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Tosca onions are medium to large in size, averaging 12-17 centimeters in length and five centimeters in diameter, and are elongated, bulbous, and torpedo-shaped. The long bulbs are encased in a thin, shiny, parchment-like skin that is golden brown, dry, smooth, and brittle. Underneath the skin, the flesh is white, juicy, firm, and crisp with many layers of uniform rings. Tosca onions are crunchy and tender with a mildly sweet and nutty flavor, reminiscent of a white onion blended with a shallot.
Tosca onions are available in the fall through winter.
Tosca onions, botanically classified as Allium cepa, are a European specialty onion and are members of the Amaryllidaceae family. Known as a winter variety, Tosca onions store well throughout the winter months and are favored for their mild flavor and elongated shape. Tosca onions are somewhat rare to find in commercial markets, but they are versatile and used by home cooks for a wide variety of culinary applications.
Tosca onions contain vitamins A, C, and B, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.
Tosca onions are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as boiling, frying, and roasting. The onions impart a shallot-like sweetness and depth of flavor to soups, stews, chilies, stocks, broths, and sauces and may be used in place of most other onions in recipes. Their elongated shape and even rings also make them suitable for frying as they produce evenly shaped onion rings. In addition to frying, Tosca onions can be chopped and added to stuffing, layered in sandwiches, caramelized and served over a crostini, or tossed into pasta. Tosca onions pair well with mushrooms, arugula, meats such as pulled pork, beef, and poultry, red wine, capers, olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs such as parsley, sorrel, and thyme. The bulbs will keep up to two months when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Tosca onions are a favorite onion variety to plant in home gardens in the United States as it is fairly easy to grow, produces even bulbs, stores well, and contains many nutritional benefits such as antioxidants and anti-bacterial properties. The elongated variety also bears a novel shape allowing it to grow in small gardens and is favored for its mild flavor as a substitute for common onions in many different recipes.
The exact origins of Tosca onions are unknown, but they are believed to be native to Europe, specifically to the Czech Republic. Today the variety can be found at select farmers markets and in seed form through online catalogs in the United States and Europe.